Farewell Party & D day
I pray you all are well and enjoying the beauty of this month of May where you are currently situated.
I'm winding down in Germany (Mullersbach, outside of Koln to be exact) after a wonderful and meaningful visit with family & friends and mentally preparing to return home at weeks end. I will be writing more of an extensive wrap up to this trip with some final thoughts on what God has been instilling in me and the journey ahead. In the meantime I want to share a short yet rather amusing story with you and in the end I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
Saturday May 2nd was a day to remember. It happened to be the special day of my farewell (or as we preferred to phrase it "See you soon!") party. About 80 invites were sent out to friends, local officials, reverends and government leaders to attend this auspicious occasion. To add to this sizable number were about 5 different forms of entertainment groups including 2 drama teams, a traditional dance group and two children's choirs from around the district. An abundance of goat, chicken, beef, rice, greens (bo, meloquan), posho, cabbage, sweet & irish potatoes, and sim sim paste were all on the menu to satisfy the hunger of the day.
Unlike the western world, meat here in Pader unfortunately does not come conveniently packaged, wrapped and ready for that crock pot or bbq. It usually waddles or walks in through our gate and roams around the compound bemusedly until the day its owners sense of taste supersedes their sight and the livestock's expendable life meets its inevitable demise. My Acholi friends here seem to have a keen memory and to my disadvantage recalled me saying that before I left Pader...yes.... I would slaughter a goat.
Now in my defense, I was very reluctant to terminate this little critter but in Acholi culture a promise must be upheld to the highest standard. Almost every week we have an unannounced guest arrive at the compound informing us of the unfulfilled promises of a previous missions team. One particular former missionary to Pader, whom i never had the privilege of becoming acquainted with seems to be on the forefront of these empty vows and its quite amusing to interrupt a visitors request to say: "hmmm. Let me guess,... so & so.... promised you a football... or jerseys...?"
Ok, Back to the goat... It was two days before my farewell party and my heart was filled with sadness at the thought of leaving Pader. One thought that helped alleviate the heaviness of my upcoming adieu was that there was no goat to be found on the compound. Had my friends failed to recall my early oath? That night I slept in tranquility, relieved that I had escaped such a barbaric task. I awoke the next morning to a sound that will forever conjure up such unpleasant thoughts. The sound of my new adversary, Mr. Goat. I tried to convince myself that I was still sleeping and my anti-malarial meds were taking me on another sub conscious roller coaster through my greatest fears and nightmares, but I unfortunately was very much awake.
Similar to the needs of humans, in order to prevent a goat from constant nagging, it is best to provide it with a companion. Unfortunately, our party/celebration budget was rather miniscule and I had only agreed to terminate a solitary goat. So we had a pesky, little, brown spotted goat in the yard yapping incessantly for 24 hrs! The next day my mind was literally consumed with this goat. I was no killer! I must admit, I have had homicidal thoughts before but what Toronto Maple Leafs fan hasn't after 6 years of lackluster performance and no playoff activity? I've repented for my early days of stalking chipmunks with Grandpas bb-gun but even then I had a 25 cent/pelt incentive and monopolized chipmunk extermination in Parry Sound. It was strictly business and the creatures only half the size of my foot. We're talking here about a goat the size of a great dane, or a small calf. A goat that I began to understand and appreciate during those 24 hrs. It's typical of a westerner like myself to have an inflated story about an experience like this as its not something that I (or most westerners do) do on a regular basis. Saturday morning was swiftly approaching and I couldn't dodge the onerous task that awaited me.
I walked slowly towards my destination behind the church building to where I would soon become a "man" in Acholi culture. Each person I met along the way noticed my focused yet rather ominous facial expression I was sporting. I immediately began to ask my Acholi friends for advice on techniques of execution. I was dumbfounded at a number of their responses as full grown Acholi men and women sincerely expressed their fear of killing goats. Great! Just great...
For the sake of friendships, animal rights fanatics and the unknown age groups following my blogs, I will refrain from providing a detailed account of the slaughter on the morning of May 2nd. Just to say that it was probably the most humorous and traumatic experience of my life. For those family and friends of mine with strong stomachs, I have the whole thing on tape! Come on over and we'll watch it before dinner. I have been a collector of knives for a few years now and love to take them out to look at every now and then, but a rifle would have been much less tedious then the dull blade that was put in my hands! I'm definitely booking some counseling sessions when I get home.
The farewell party was absolutely beautiful and I felt very special. With a max at 80 confirmed guests, over 110 people showed up which is a testimony to the Acholi cultures open door policy. (Any guest who shows up at your doorstep even if unexpected or unwanted must be fed and put up for the night if necessary)
Ok, more thoughts to come soon on my last month in Pader. I have posted a lot more pictures for you to check out when you have time. I am home on Friday and hope to see a lot who are local very soon! I have a short version of the story as well as a medium and long version. You choose... haha
I love you all,