Meet Junior: Trip #9

Sunday, May 29th

The day after we finished our training, we headed to Murchison National Park so Joel, the Training Leaders International Curriculum Director, could go on his first safari. We had a decent safari (you become a snob of sorts when you’ve been on three!), and Joel left for the airport the next morning. Mike and I stayed two more nights before continuing the trip to South Sudan (more posts coming about this portion of the trip coming). The whole time we were there, our meals were served to us by a delightful guy named Junior. He took great care of us the entire time-every meal.

We asked Junior about his life, and he told an amazing story about his grandmother. She was banished to an island as a pregnant twelve-year-old, left to die! The island, known as Punishment Island, was the price the pregnant girl would pay, because they were no longer suited to generate a dowry for the family. I’m no doctor, but I think the pregnancy involved a man as well-I don’t think there was an island for them!

As tragic as the whole enterprise was, there is an amazing redemptive element here. I was able to point out how this story points to Jesus’ work on behalf of the forsaken. The fact we were talking about his grandmother is a hint of what took place. There is an article and a three-minute video (after the obligatory ad) and is instructive and eye opening. Check out the link below.

It is quite common for the man (like Junior) to live apart from the family to make money to send home to care for them in Uganda. At the conclusion of our trip, we left him a note with a $20 tip for him and he was excited to send it home to help with his kid’s school fees. School fees are a constant battle for Ugandans, and fathers and mothers go to great lengths to make this happen for the kids they for whom they want a better future. 

It is one of the many joys of these trips to get to know people like Junior. I’m amazed at the resilience and intelligence of so many we meet. Junior speaks four languages and his English is really solid. Our driver, Otim, speaks seven languages. Between his language skills and his delightful personality, wherever we go, he seems to know someone. I’m home, but there are more stories to come, especially some opportunities that lie ahead. Click the link, you will not be disappointed.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life