Saturday, 19 July 2014



We have some money available to spend on dresses for some widows.  We found that the ladies really like picking their own material and patterns and having a dress made for them.  In the border town of Busia, Uganda there are many shops that sell fabric at a much lower price than in Kenya.  Violet Odindo (wife of Hesbone Odindo, pastor of Restoration Community Church), Sarah Omondi (a tailoress) and Marty decided that was the place to go for the material.  On Monday, July 14, we had Robert, the driver we use for transportation here, take us.  Before we left John prayed for our safety and protection.  Marty thanked the Lord for our safety and protection as we traveled along the way.

At the border of Busia (Boo see' ah) , Kenya, and Busia, Uganda people can just walk across the border.  The area between the two immigration buildings is called "no-man's land".  The whole area is a beehive of activity, with a lot of hustle and bustle - vendors selling fruits and vegetables, assorted merchandise and even money changers.  We parked the car on the Kenya side and paid the 20 shillings parking fee that was good for as long as we needed to stay (approx. 25 Cents USD or 16 Pence GBP). Then we walked to the border and passed through the Kenya side.  Marty is walking beside Robert and thinking how good it was to have him along to protect us.  As we approached the Uganda-border-immigration -building a policewoman beckoned to Robert and asked him to follow her. We thought he needed to show his I.D. and Marty and Violet proceeded to the window, because Marty, not being a national, had to go through immigration.  Sarah was holding our bags outside and called Marty over to tell her that her phone was ringing.  It was a call from Robert.  We finished our business with immigration, Marty called Robert and he asked her to come right away.  So she went to find him.  She was directed to a small round tin building - went in - and there was Robert in a chair and three or four desks with police officers at them. She asked what was happening and the officer at the desk next to Robert said that Robert couldn't wear his trousers into Uganda.  What???  Robert had some camouflage cut-off trousers/shorts that he had recently purchased.  He had on a khaki-colored T-shirt with a designer logo.  He looked very smart!!!  Marty told the police she would go get him a pair of trousers to change into so he could pass through.  They said no, they had to take him to court because he wasn't allowed to wear camouflage clothing in Uganda.  At this point Violet came into the room and they began to question us about why we were coming to Uganda, and what were we doing with Robert.  Violet explained that we were with a church and that Marty was a missionary and Robert was our driver.  He questioned us about whether the car belonged to the church and what church was it.  We told him and said there was a branch in Kampala, Uganda and offered them the pastors name and number.  They weren't interested.  Then they gave Violet a poster off the wall that explained that  wearing camouflage was illegal, and carried a sentence of 7 years in prison.  They showed us a pile of camouflage clothing they had confiscated.  Violet implored them to let Robert go.  The police told us that Robert had to go to court.  Still thinking that if they understood why we were there they would realize we were helping people and not doing anything wrong that they would let Robert go.  Then they said that they really were supposed to take him to court. Robert was under arrest!  That's why they couldn't just let him change trousers and go - he had broken the law!!!  Then after more talk and evasive answers from the police, they said that since we were doing the work we were, that even though they were to take him to court they would merely fine him and send him back to Kenya.  We thought that was a good deal and asked the price; it was 2000 KES ($25, £16).  Marty asked for a receipt and the officer said something to Violet and she said "Marty, let's go, we have to obey authority" and then when outside said "You shouldn't have asked for a receipt"!  (Marty is trying to figure out how we weren't obeying authority.)  Sarah still had Marty's handbag and when Marty got the money from it for the fine Violet said that she should stay out of there and let Sarah take the money in to pay the fine.  Later on Violet told us that the policeman had said to her - "You women go now, and leave the boy to us"!  Violet, Sarah and Marty passed through the gate into Uganda to shop!  Marty called Robert a few minutes later and he was in his car, back in Kenya!!!  It took Marty - she with the mind like a steel trap - at least  forty-five minutes before she realized that she hadn't paid a fine! She had paid a bribe!!!  Leaving her to ponder what would she have done if she had known up front that they were asking for a bribe.  She is grateful to God that she was naive and slow-witted; thus, not having to feel guilty for paying a bribe and not having to be under the stress of what to do if she knew Robert would go to jail if she didn't bribe them.  It has always been our conviction not to ever pay a bribe!  

While Marty sat outside the shop where Violet and Sarah were picking out the fabric (she couldn't go in with them because the price would have increased considerably) she spent a lot of time praising God for answered prayer, for protecting us and for keeping Robert out of prison.


When we passed back into Kenya and found Robert we all began to laugh at what we had been through!  However, Marty did not call John and tell him about it until we were all several miles into Kenya from the border and stopped to eat.  We also noted that rather than Robert protecting us - we protected him!

We got some WONDERFUL material at a genuinely lower rate than we would have paid in Kenya and 34 widows will have tailor-made dresses.  Most likely they will be the first new dresses the ladies ever owned.

That night Marty did research on the law regarding camouflage clothing in Uganda only to find that there is also a law in Kenya against it.  A person not only cannot wear camouflage clothing, they cannot even have it in their suitcases if entering or leaving these countries. The reason is that people could be impersonating a policeman and engage in crimes or terrorism.  They are very, very serious about it.  

We have a list of cultural/travel tips for people coming to Kenya - as of Tuesday it was amended in the "what to wear" section to include not wearing or packing camouflage anything!  ANYTHING!


John & Marty

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