Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Journeying to Gulu, Uganda with Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe - Day 3 - Patricia Smith


This Sunday Evening Mass at Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe church reflected the Catholic Church Service of the people of Gulu, Uganda.

It was solemn at times; but still was a festive holy service.  The children and parents prayed and sang and gave thanks!

Great 1st Sunday during Lent!

Sunday Evening Mass With Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe in Gulu, Uganda:  via @YouTube

There is 8 hours difference in time from CST and Gulu time....i.e. when it is 7:39am CST it is 3:39pm Gulu time.  I have finally almost got my sleep caught up----kinda!!!!

St. Monica’s takes me back to the days when I was growing up as a child / youth in my hometown of Wewoka----when I hung out at my grandparents a lot……

The mama cow and baby cow are just walking around checking out us humans!  J

The chickens are clucking----the ducks are quacking----I come out of my pop bottle house and find the baby bananas growing at the door.

The children are so receptive to hugs and love.  We prepared for the visit from Sharkeys and met them at the Gulu airport to greet them.

This was the Sabbath day---We went to evening mass.  The voices sounded like unified praise.  Everyone was so sincere in their worship.  They shook hands of everyone around----they kneeled and prayed and worshiped. 

The highlight of the service was this lil bitty boy no older than 4 or 5 stepped out in the aisle and started praying with the most sincere prayer on his lips----and I watched him pray for quite a long time----as people were filing out….He remained there praying.  I hope that whatever he was praying for that GOD will answer his prayer!

We walked out of the church and people were filing around to say hi to Sister Rosemary and welcome her home.  I went up to the front of the church-----and someone was talking about Sister Rosemary and pop tabs…..that’s all that I could make-out!....They were speaking in their native language……Even the people in Uganda talk about pop tab purses.  J

On our way home-----we had to stop by the grocery store which was the largest one in town----more like a gas convenience store like Love’s to us to pick up a few necessities like water and Pepsi cola for me----and it was in the old-fashioned glass bottle that you had to have a bottle opener to open….yeahhhhhh I found a pop….lol-----We were needing items for the Sarkey’s Hearing Foundation visit on Monday and Tuesday.  Sister Rosemary / St. Monica’s will be providing all of the lunches for the local and U.S. volunteers of Sarkey.  I was amazed at the food that the young girls prepared for all of the volunteers.  These young ladies attend St. Monica’s and are specializing in Culinary……I loveeeee their beans and rice.  I have never tasted the flavor like that.  We have fresh pineapples, fresh bananas, okra, greens, bread hot out of the oven and more.  I’ll have to share some of their dishes later…..But they are soooooo delicious!!!  3 meals a day---oh, oh----I’m going to be in trouble!

The next 2 days with Sarkey is about to begin----Nothing like helping others and saving lives!....

Here we go……getting ready to serve the hundreds of people needing ear examines, cleanings and hearing aids……

Thanks Sarkey for sharing with the world!

Please show support of Sister Rosemary / her children in Uganda by liking the Sewing Hope facebook page:  

"Sewing Hope" book can be purchased on the Sewing Hope website:

The book is also available in hardback cover or e-download at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  100% of all monies received support Sister Rosemary and the children in Uganda.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Journeying to Gulu, Uganda with Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe - Day 2 - Patricia Smith

Day 2 –

Going  Thru The Rushes Like Moses at the Nile River in Uganda.

What a Moment!!!.....
I actually got to see the Nile River----was having a biblical moment……with Sister Rosemary.  I recalled the many inferences to the River Nile in the bible.  This made the long journey to Gulu more than worth it and will always remain one of the memorable moments of the day and my life.  It was just breath-taking / beautiful and will forever be branded in my mind and heart!

The trip from Kampala began that day with the roosters crowing at 3:30am at the priest parish---didn’t need an alarm clock there to wake up…..the rosters crowed right outside your window…..  J

I could hear the priests walking and singing as early as 6am.  This was just like you see on television.  So, this happens for real at these parishes / monasteries.  After Sister Rosemary had gone to the chapel to pray and have breakfast….she met and introduced me to several of the priests and brothers that called her sister and friend.    They were excited to hear about her journey to the U.S. -----as well as to hear about the book and documentary----“Sewing Hope’.  They congratulated her for her sharing of Uganda’s plight of the children and families -------and thanked her for having the heart to bring up awareness of the many children still being affected by Joseph Kony’s period of terror.  Sister was so right when I had heard her share in the United States----that the war and sound of guns may be over…..but the effect on the children and the devastation of the war would be felt and remembered forever!  I listened quietly as their shared / talked about Sister.  This tied “Sewing Hope” and heightened the importance of Sister Rosemary’s trip to the United States and its success in making the world aware of the plight of the children / people in Gulu and the entire country of Uganda. 

We began our long journey on the road to Gulu which is in Northern Uganda. We were leaving behind the city life----and headed northward. It normally is approximately around a 6 hour drive.  We were delayed by many road accidents blocking traffic to include a couple of 18-wheelers----also a bus that had passengers on it was involved in an accident.  This was a 2-laner road / highway-----sometime paved or at times dirt roads with bumpy holes between the towns of Kampala and Gulu.  This journey took almost 9 hours.  It was hot----Sister and I slept---talked, laughed and more as she relayed the history of where I was and about the culture of that particular area.

Enroute---we passed many children and families hauling water back to their homes from water pumps on their heads, on their boda boda’s (motor bikes) as well as bicycles.

We stopped several times to buy cool drinking bottled water ---- in addition to the traffic stops because of accidents….We sat a couple of times longer than 30 minutes to wait for the roads to be cleared and opened back up.  I kept thinking---that this had been a tiring trip for us----but at least we had a comfortable vehicle to ride in and could purchase cool drinking water in bottles!   There were a lot of people walking.  The roads created dust storms on the unpaved portions that covered the PFA vehicle with a film of powdered dust.  That same film of dust covered the individuals walking and those riding the boda boda’s as well as the bicycles.  It was another moment to be really ‘thankful’ for the vehicle and for clean drinking water-----hmmmmmm!!!!

Other stops were made to buy fresh pineapples and other vegetables / roots for the school.  It was so exciting to hear / watch Sister Rosemary barter with the locales for the best price and quality of items. I got to taste one root called cassava that had to be eaten hot.  Sister Rosemary made sure that she received ‘hot cassava’ for me to taste / eat.  I felt like I was in a movie and actually had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming about this entire adventure. People from Uganda that were at the market stops would run up to the vehicle to offer their wares to include:  cooked goat meat kabobs, vegetables, fruits, clothing items and more!......I didn’t take as many pictures.  Sister told me to take pictures only when we were moving.  She didn’t want any locales to be offended.  Also----she teased me that my telephoto lens may scare the children-----cause it was so large.....She said that it could resemble the nozzle of a gun!!!  J  I took great care when using the camera…..Didn’t want to offend or scare anyone…..

A refreshing stop that was the highlight of the day was as we approached the crossing of the bridge at the River Nile.  As, we were approaching ---- I could see and hear its roaring waters passing under the bridge.  It was guarded by 2 security guards.  One was an officer.  Sister Rosemary told Jeffrey----our driver to pull over and she spoke to the officer and told him that I was from America and was ‘coming back home’ to Africa for the first time ever and wanted to know if I could take photographs of the river.  I guess no one can turn down Sister Rosemary---the soldier agreed and smiled and accompanied us.  I was more than excited……This was a photographers dream of a lifetime!!!---to photograph as well as to be photographed alongside the biblical Nile River.  The officer was so kind.  He also agreed to pose with me there also. 

The long journey ended as we pulled into the town of Gulu-----not like Kampala at all.  The streets are not paved and shops didn’t have Samsung or Polo on it.  Gulu reflected the culture that I had seen on the road travelling.  Life is totally different here in Gulu compared to Kampala.

We turned to the gate that I recognized from the pictures that I had seen in Sister Rosemary’s book --- “Sewing Hope”.
She had taught me my new word of the day----

“Afoyo” which means ‘Welcome’!!

Sister and I was greeted by the other Sisters and children----
Everyone made me feel soooooo at home----I observed how everyone was so pleased to have their beloved Sister back at the helm of St. Monica!!


Day 2 ended in prayer with a late prepared dinner in the convent where the sisters resided.  I was taken to my own thatch roof house ----and to my delight and surprise----It was one of the bottle houses that I had seen that Sister had built.  I was so humbled and welcomed!


Children from Uganda came to welcome Sister Rosemary home from her visit to the United States.

Sister Rosemary is a 'Real African Hero' song by the children in Uganda  -- See them on the youtube below:

Pictures of this continuing journey can be found on the following link:

Please show support of Sister Rosemary / her children in Uganda by liking the Sewing Hope facebook page:

"Sewing Hope" book can be purchased on the Sewing Hope website:

The book is also available in hardback cover or e-download at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  100% of all monies received support Sister Rosemary and the children in Uganda.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Journeying to Gulu, Uganda with Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe - Day 1 - Patricia Smith

Day 1 – After travelling over 24 hours…..Sister and I finally arrived in Kampala at the Entebbe Airport around midnight.  The airport was just like I remember seeing it on TV during the movie of the raid being filmed here.   I couldn’t take pictures.  I really wanted to take pictures you know----but there were policemen / guards everywhere.  Every imagined nationality was present there in the airport.  We had to go through customs which went smoothly considering this was my first time travelling abroad with a passport.  A young man by the name of Emmanuel who grew up in Uganda was sitting next to me and he shared many stories with me during this long trip about his life in Uganda----and he and his siblings growing up in Uganda as an orphan.....but now lives in the United States and is a very successful investment banker in Boston that teaches at Harvard.  I've adopted another son----nice and very intelligent young man.

No longer need a coat --- I'm definitely not in Oklahoma anymore--- it is warm here 80-90 degrees…..We have to rest before the next part of our journey to St. Monica’s which is a six hour drive.  We are leaving for Gulu early Saturday morning.  We are staying right now at a monastery in Kampala that rents out rooms.  It is soooo beautiful and green and peaceful here.  The priests are sooooooo kind and they have the utmost respect for Sister Rosemary.

We spent the afternoon in the house of Katherine --- Sister Rosemary’s biological sister and her children----she prepared a feast for us and it was sooooo delicious ----Tilapia from the Nile River, Maize that looks like mashed potatoes, beet juice and many other delicious dishes.  It was like something that you see in the movies or read in books.  Katherine’s children waited on us.  They brought me a basin with soap to the table to wash my hands before and after our lunch.  One of the neighbors came by to meet and greet me and she bowed and sat down on the floor and I greeted her the same way but gave her a big hug……This was such an honor to be honored by the family and friends of Sister Rosemary.

Sister took me to market…..and I went to a store----similar to our Walmart to purchase some of my favorites like sea salt, and mustard and even found a roasted chicken there which I purchased……We stopped at the outside market to purchase bananas….they come large and mini’s…….I have never tasted a banana so sweet in my life.  Sister shared that the sun ripens and sweetens the fruit here……and that when I get to St. Monica’s…..I will see large bananas and large sweet pineapples and other fruits and vegetables as soon as I walk out of my room.  

I’ve been kinda lost without the internet ---as you all can tell…..and my cell phone.  Purchased a local Uganda Nokia phone for $25.00-----got the chance to text my mom and sister / family to let them know that we made it here okay.  J

They have Ethernet-----here at the monastery…’m on….but can’t be up to much longer----cause we are leaving early for Gulu.  My room is real simple----has a twin bed and a small bathroom with a shower…..My bed has mosquito netting to cover you over the bed.  I had one mosquito that kept buzzing me…..I had sprayed down with Deep but I had to get up and kill that mosquito……lol…..could hear its buzzing sound.

Well---the journey continues…..I took a walk while I was at the house of Katherine’s about 4 blocks…..I don’t have a lot of monies personally myself and would consider myself in the lower income bracket here in the United States---However, I saw real poverty.  I understand why people in other countries think that we are rich here in the U.S…….compared to them, we probably are----definitely food for thought as I go to sleep.  The hills and the valleys and the lake are breath-taking here in Kampala.   The monastery is at the top of the hill…..I looked out down the hill and saw the beautiful lights below----I can hear music floating up from below and was very surprised that I could make out the words really well to the song.   It so quiet here at the monastery….just the opposite with the music floating up from somewhere below.

Okay---I’m sleepy now… kindle reading tonight----just wanna kill that mosquito….lol ----it's raining now and I am loving the sound of the pitter patter hitting the leaves of all of the greenery here at the monastery.

Nite All!!!!

P.S.  Our PFA driver – Jeffrey is the best driver ever-----and I told him that.  He drives with so much confidence…..he reminded me of the driving techniques of my eldest brother Larry----whom was my hero that I thought when I was young in grade school / junior high could drive with his eyes closed almost….lol  J  They drive on the left side of the road here-----and the traffic here is busy, busy and congested.   Sister had told me so----but, I thought that nothing was worse than Houston’s traffic on I-10.   The traffic in Kampala proved me wrong……I learned a new word today----Boda Boda.  There are so many Boda Bodas around (motor bikes).  They move in and out of traffic with ease.  They also act as taxis to many.

Can't wait to see what happens next on this journey!!!!

Sister Rosemary and her family told me:

I never thought that I would ever have this opportunity to visit my homeland!!!

Pictures of this continuing journey can be found on the following link:

Please show support of Sister Rosemary / her children in Uganda by liking the Sewing Hope facebook page:

"Sewing Hope" book can be purchased on the Sewing Hope website:

The book is also available in hardback cover or e-download at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.  100% of all monies received support Sister Rosemary and the children in Uganda.