A spiritual journey through parts of Uganda
Gothenburg woman joins African priest in visits to parishes
Barb Nuxoll thought her next trip would be to India, especially after traveling to three other countries that started with the letter “I.”Indonesia, Israel and Italy.
But Father Jude soon straightened her out, she said.
After hearing the Ugandan priest talk at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Platte about the need for mosquito nets to save lives in his country, the thought stayed with the Stone Hearth Estates administrator.
She sent a donation and she and Father Jude began a correspondence.
Seeing stories about the African country in the news and other places kept the idea about traveling there fresh in her mind.
And then she met with Father Jude to plan a trip.
“What do I do?” Nuxoll said she asked.
“Get on a plane and come to the Entebbe airport,” he told her.
So Nuxoll, and friend and traveling companion Mary Wyatt of North Platte, did just that.
For the first two weeks of June, the women traveled with Father Jude to several of the 58 outstations in his diocese.
There, they attended Mass nearly every day.
“God had his finger on every moment,” Nuxoll said.
The first Mass Nuxoll and Wyatt attended, they were 45 minutes late.
As parishioners waited, they worshipping and clapping and singing before Nuxoll, Wyatt and Father Jude finally arrived.
“He is so loved and revered by the people and we were honored and overwhelmed by emotion,” she said.
She and Wyatt took seats of honor by Father Jude at the altar.
“Mary and I were weeping,” Nuxoll said.
After Mass, she said Father Jude said Ugandans believe that religion in the West is dead.
“You are here to show them otherwise and they’d like to hear from you,” he said.
Despite material poverty, Nuxoll said she was touched by the Ugandans’ joy, hospitality and generosity.
For example, the women were given the best food and noticed that two tithings were offered during services.
Tithing can be money, plantains or decorated roosters—all which Nuxoll witnessed.
“What I learned was it matters what you give compared to what you have,” she explained. “We don’t know what giving is.”
At one Mass, Nuxoll said brightly robed Nigerians showed up and clapped and danced their way into the church.
“They are bigger, taller people than the Ugandans with such vibrant personalities,” she said. “They had flown in from their oil-rich country that has a lot of Muslims.”
While in Uganda, the two women stayed mostly at Father Jude’s home parish in northern Uganda.
At one of the parishes, Nuxoll said she drank the best tea of her life from freshly brewed leaves.
She noted that parishes have businesses to help support them such as harvesting water and growing beef and tea.
On June 3, a date that Father Jude said that Nuxoll and Wyatt must be in the country for, the trio traveled to Numagongo for a national holiday in which Ugandan martyrs are celebrated.
When Christian believers came to the country in the 1860s, she said the king didn’t like the thought that they worshipped a religious king.
“So he asked the priests to follow God or him and many of the believers were tied and burned to death,” Nuxoll explained.
About half a million people attended the celebration and many couldn’t get through the gate where festivities took place.
“Most of them walked for days, many at night so they wouldn’t be sidetracked by what they saw in the villages they passed through during the day,” Nuxoll said.
Once she and Wyatt got through the gate with Father Jude, they saw more than 400 priests and twice as many nuns.
At one of the parishes, Nuxoll said the children cried when the mothers brought them to the Caucasian women.
“We could’ve been the first white women they’d seen,” she said.
Nuxoll said Uganda was also a wonderful place to be psychologically because she stayed present and didn’t think about yesterday or tomorrow.
In addition to visiting several villages and celebrating mass, Father Jude also took his guests sightseeing where they saw giraffes, monkeys, hippos and crocodiles.
The opportunity to see Murchison Falls, a breath-taking waterfall on the Nile, was a highlight.
“I kept thinking ‘sings my soul’” she said.
Nuxoll said she may return to Uganda one day and may complete a pilgrimage to honor martyrs on June 3.
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