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Was I just a Tourist - Part IV
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By Tree Galbraith

In 5 editions of Christian Life in London, we are presenting a remarkable story, a true story, about the journey by Tree Galbraith and ten others to Uganda as part of the with "Just Cause Education Outreach". (Tree is short for Teresa - but if you called out to her: "Teresa", she is unlikely to respond as she has not gone by Teresa for a very long time.)

In the first three segments first two segments Tree described the lead up to the trip and the eye opening experiences in the days after arriving. In last month's Part III - Tree tells about the work, the Nile and the instant friendships.

If you missed the first three segments click here: PART1 PART2 PART3

Let's join Tree and her fellow disciples on Part IV of their gospel mission of learning and teaching, giving and receiving appropriately titled: Was I "JUST" a Tourist?


The Canadian Delegation, as we were called, worked at the church again the next day. I brought along stickers, suckers, song sheets, pencil crayons and paper. I was prepared for a day with the rural village children. The children loved the stickers and they ended up all over their faces. Silly faces and lots of laughter. It was interesting to watch the children colour. We asked them to colour pictures and they would draw, for example, a tree and then write the word tree beside the picture. It was as if they were programmed from school to make charts. Under the original church tarp, under the blazing hot sun, we sang and played together. Unlike the days when there were hundreds of children around, we were able to spend quality time with 15-20 rural village children. It was the first time we gave the children the "sweeties" as they called them. Their faces beamed, even a small infant sucked on a sucker. The excitement of the suckers, being together with the small group, and the holding of baby Teddi, was the highlight, or the rose as we called it, of my day.

As a group we decided we needed to have a night off so we stayed at the hotel for supper. This also gave our driver, Livingstone, a night to spend at home with his children. As we came to expect, the Ugandan way, the pizza took over 2 hours to make. I was happy to have time to myself and reflected on the grace filled moments of my journey.

We were given a free day on Friday, so a group of us decided to go the Rainforest. Just Cause arranged all the various travel arrangements for us. After a crazy, white-knuckle drive, swarming of the van with workers selling chicken on a stick, bananas and pop and beautiful scenery of sugar cane and tea plantations, we arrived at the Rainforest. Our guide, Kisamo, showed us where the washroom was. We were so excited about the flush toilets and real soap!

Myself and another girl had noticed a snake on the pathway outside the washroom. In our excitement, we bent down and took a picture. We quickly let everyone know that we had the first sighting. Kisamo was shocked and made us show him the picture and asked us show him where we had seen it. He quickly told us that it was a Spitting Cobra. Had we suffered a snake bite from this snake, we could have been dead within 30 minutes! They told us they have the anti-venom on site and even with a 30-minute rush to the hospital, we may have not survived!

Thank you God. Needless to say we were a little more careful as we journeyed through the rest of the amazing rainforest.

Kisamo was incredibly knowledgeable and he spoke to us about the Ugandan demonstration of 2009, in which the Ugandan people fought together to save the Rainforest from being sold to foreign sugar cane plantation owners.

We saw and learned about monkeys, python trails, beautiful butterflies, huge termite hills, tsetse flies, pygmy "short people" and medicinal trees. We tasted the bark of an African Green Heart Medicine Tree. It was 100 times stronger than cayenne pepper. When boiled the Ugandans use it to fight Malaria, heart problems and other ailments. He explained that every Ugandan is able to use the rainforest and its valuable resources.

They take pride and want to protect this only surviving Ugandan Rainforest.

Our driver took us to the Nile Resort for a beautiful lunch. It was a 5 star resort, complete with a swimming pool, amazing entrance and grounds backing onto the Nile River. We invited him to lunch and he answered so many questions.

The next day the group traveled to the Main St. Market to buy groceries to take to the Baby Sanctuary. We were told not to venture in too deep and to keep the bus in sight at all times. My task was to buy onions. I was thrilled when Michelle and Sara mentioned that I could buy small ice-cream cups and colourful crocks to take to the kids at the orphanage.

En route to Michaels Baby Sanctuary Orphanage, I spotted a wedding car. I was missing a dear friend's wedding that was taking place at the same time at home in London, so we toasted to them with our water bottles.

Hundreds of children ran to the bus as we entered the laneway leading to Michael's Baby Sanctuary. We entered the tiny orphanage and fed them a much needed healthy lunch and some ice cream. The tiny children were so excited as they picked out their new bright colored shoes. We held the toddlers as we fed them and read stories to them. I had the opportunity to give the teachers the primary workbooks that my Grandchildren had donated to the orphanage. The orphanage staff and volunteers were very interested in knowing about us as well. I had brought a tiny photo album with pictures of my family and friends. They were so excited to see and ask questions about family life in Canada. One of the teachers asked if I could leave a picture and indeed I did.

After lunch we played soccer, read and sang songs with the entire village. I had become very familiar with the song "I am Special" and indeed these children picked up the lyrics very quickly. My heart was beaming, when a week later when we delivered 2 sets of triple bunk beds, mosquito nets, sheets and mattresses. A child said "Oli Otya" and asked me if I could sing with her. She said, "I am Special". I could hardly contain the tears. My mind went blank and I asked her if she would sing with me. Thankfully enough, she started:

"I am special, yes I am, yes I am, yes I am, I am special I'm very special"

This I AM SPECIAL moment is the highlight of my trip. I will never forget singing with the group of children at this orphanage and as I drove away they were still singing it. My hope and prayer is that every child remembers that they are very special and that there is indeed no one like them.

That Saturday, I called home to wish my good friend a wonderful wedding day and I spoke to my family as well. I was holding this special wedding day in my thoughts and prayers all day. It was also the first time that I was homesick. We went out for supper on the Nile River - yuck - fish dinner with eyeballs! I stuck to my usual pizza and tea dinner. The scenery and sunset was beautiful and I even danced in tribute to the wedding.