Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Namiti Adventure

Fishermen doing some morning work on Lake Victoria
It had been a year and a half since I last visited Namiti Island, so I was excited for what I might find there.

Namiti is like a second home for Shepherd's Heart. Last June we "officially" re-opened a medical clinic in this very rural place. Also, a couple of members have made their homes there, raised their families and invested many hours on Namiti and the surrounding islands through various ministry outreaches.

Folks like Pastor Samson and Oraygi are from elsewhere in Uganda (like the eastern part), but feel called to serve the islands as "missionaries."

Namiti is a "southern" island in the Buvuma group and one crosses the equator from north to south to reach it, if traveling from Jinja or Lingira Island. Unfortunately, I am not sure where that equator "line" is since we are traveling on the water.

Our original departure time from Jinja on Tuesday was delayed by a storm and as we waited in the boat to leave, the sky seemed to only darken. Yet, we set off. Five hours later and after much "rockin' and rollin'" through heavy winds and waves, we landed wet and tired at Namiti Island. (Sorry, no photos of the trip there!)

One of the few trees on "Namiti" - the "tree island."
"Namiti" means "tree" in Luganda, yet it really doesn't have many, since most were cut for firewood and other purposes some time ago. It is rather sparsely vegetated and flat, too. Yet, it has its own unique beauty in the people and surroundings.

My purpose for visiting Namiti was to meet with sponsored students and their parents, and if possible also visit the students in their homes. The group meeting went well, though as usual, started about an hour after it was planned. :) (Meetings or other activities rarely start on time here, mostly because people trickle in slowly by slowly.)

Namiti Clinic Collage: (from top left clockwise) immunization day; visiting Nurse Bambi (an RN and midwife) talks with expectant island mothers; Nurse Alex attends to a patient; children on the clinic's veranda; immunizing a young patient; a view of the front of the clinic.
After lunch, and time for photos and a bit of reading, I was taken by a student into the village to visit. I so enjoyed meeting students' families, "impressing" them with my little Luganda, and seeing more of my students' world.

Some village homes are as small as an American bedroom, with mud walls and floors, thatched roofs or the occasional tin roof. Narrow, meandering "streets" or "alleys" separate the homes in the village, with some huts so close together that you could stand at your doorway and touch your neighbors' abode.

The sun was setting as I entered my last home for the day - Fauza's house.

Fauza, who is nearly 18, has become quite dear to me. I met her in 2010 - the year I came to Uganda to work with SHIM on Lingira Island, and the year she started studying at Lingira Living Hope. Last year I began one-on-one discipleship with her as I sensed her genuine desire to walk with Christ and to know Him more. She is coming out of her shy, reserved shell - even now singing in the school choir and wanting to gain more boldness as a Christian.

I watched as amazement as Fauza laughed and talked freely with her family and friends as I sat in their small home, enjoying orange soda, matoke (cooked bananas), peanut sauce, cassava and fish, prepared for me as a "visitor."

Fauza is the only born-again Christian in her home, with a Catholic mother, Muslim step-father, and siblings who align themselves with either of those two faiths. Yet, Fauza's quiet walk with Christ is strong and growing. Despite her reserved personality, her love for Jesus is becoming clearer and more evident.

Student Betty, right, and her lovely mom standing in the door of their home.
In our time on Namiti, myself and the others I traveled with, enjoyed the hospitality of Pastor Samson's wife, Joyce or "Joy," whose name fits her in so many ways. A warm, welcoming woman, she is also an excellent cook. :) Amazingly, she can take virtually the same ingredients, but make the rice, potatoes and other dishes taste wonderfully different and good. Samson and Joy also have a "choir" in their home - six children. The oldest, Emmanuel, a boy, is followed by five, sometimes spunky, younger sisters. Some of the children even sang and danced for us while were there!

We awoke before dawn on Thursday morning to catch the boat, which we were told left at 6 a.m. After a couple of hours of patient (or sometimes impatient) waiting at the shore, we boarded our boat at 8 a.m. and headed back to Jinja. We were grateful for bright, sunny skies and smooth waters - much different weather than our journey to Namiti.

Fishing boats at the shore
All around I felt blessed by this trip. I saw and experienced God's protection and peace on the journey, had a chance to share the Gospel on the boat with a young man who had walked away from his faith, observed the clinic nurses and other healthcare workers busy providing services to many needy patients, enjoyed visits with students and their families in their home environment, and once again came to the realization that God is very much at work - even in remote and rural places, like Namiti, somewhere just south of the equator.

Note the phone number on the side of the boat.
Fisherman takes in the lake

Sanyu ("Joy"), a little cousin of one of my students. (Isn't she adorable?)
Island woman carrying basin of small fish

Scattering the small fish for drying

Our "bus" coming in for the ride back to Jinja.

Clouds over Lake Victoria. I love the clouds here!
Looking back on the Namiti shore.

Mama Joy with three of her girls

Fishing boat on the lake

P.S. If you would like to see more photos of this trip, take a look at my Facebook album, found here.


  1. Your pictures of the fishing boats on the lake are stunning! So beautiful! And that was exciting to hear about Fauza--I'll continue to pray for her growth and wisdom for you!

  2. Thank you, Lauren! God painted the sunrise and the skis and I just happened to "capture" His incredible creativity and beauty. Yes, please continue to pray for Fauza that she would remain strong and continue to grow.

  3. What a blessing to see these pictures. And "hear" your heart as you tell the story. Would so love to be with you for a time, and times, and half a time.

    Now, one thing you are better with is eating. I can't stand the matoke and the peanut sauce. However, eating bananas and pineapple here in the States is frustrating, b/c they don't taste nearly as wonderful as they do there.

  4. Joanne, it would be awesome if you came back to Uganda someday, and ventured out to the islands! Yes, I am thankful that God has made me able to eat and enjoy many of the foods here. The tropical fruit in the states doesn't even compare to what is here, which is a lovely blessing. :)