Monday, March 17, 2014

The Reverse Peddle Bodda -- March 17, 2014

Hi Everyone,

I hope that this one gets posted because this letter took a long time to write. I also hope that you get a little chuckle here and there. :)

I’m glad to be here and I’m grateful for all the letters. It is awesome reading them. I really appreciate it. :) This week I have a story :) I wanted to share something that you might not know about Uganda. Here goes! The story of this week is called “Reverse Peddle Bodda”.

In the Uganda Kampala Mission, we are not allowed to ride a Bodda Bodda. What is a Bodda Bodda? It  is made in India. It is basically a motorcycle called a "Boxer".  They range from 100cc-110cc. (110 being the "big ones").  There not quite a DR650 or a KTM 690 but they are trying their best. The motorcycles are huge in size though. They are so large that on average, three people at least can sit on one Bodda. However, sometimes when people are feeling daring, the Bodda will carry as many as 5-6 people! These little mean machines are constantly darting between cars, cutting gaps, running out of gas, running into things such as walls/cars/people, and most of all breaking down.

Each and every owner has the exact same Bodda, the only difference between the machines is the way the owner customizes his over-sized underpowered "motorcycle".  All owners get their own custom made seat from one of the local “Bodda tailors”. It can range from a shiny vibrant pink all the way to a light brown with the pattern of outdated drapes. And on top of the seat each motorcycle has a unique horn that plays a song, sounds like a semi, or has been used so much it no longer works.  On a Bodda Bodda,  they transport not only people but they transport beds, chairs, mattresses, chickens, trash, fish, etc. I have even seen a Bodda transporting a Bodda!  Yes, that is correct—a motorcycle can carry another motorcycle.

Now when I say there are a lot of these things, I mean there are thousands. Every three seconds, a Bodda driver will be swerving down the road with 200 pounds of re-bar on it. Sometimes, a visual is so much better than words. See pictures below:
Bodda Delivery Vehicle

Bodda Family Wagon With Optional Luggage Rack

Bodda Taxi Stand (Staging Area)

Finding Your Bodda Can Be  a Challenge
The drivers line up as if they are waiting for a race on the side of the roads. They call these places Bodda Stages. A Bodda Stage is basically a line up (like taxis at an airport) of motorcycles wating for customers. Often the customers are late for an appointment and are willing to risk their life for the mere cost of 1000-5000 UGX (about 50 cents-two dollars)! A daring customer yells, “BODDA!”  and then all the Boddas start up and race to the customer hoping to be the lucky person who gets to transport this dare-devil across the wild roads of Uganda!

Final Note about Boddas:  Every Bodda has lettering all over it with lights attached in all directions so that no one can miss there pimped out neon colored motorcycle. CRAZY!

Here is an example:
Bodda in Showroom Condition
After the above description, the rule to not ride a Bodda makes COMPLETE sense! However, we do have a missionary approved version. It is a peddle bodda or in other words a bicycle bodda.  Instead of transporting 5-6 people, they only transport 1-2 people. Besides that difference they are basically the same but a lot slower and safer. :) A bicycle Bodda uses only the side streets so getting hit by a car is not an option.  HaHa! The bicycle drivers transport people all over town. The small seat in the back is for the passenger.

One day my companion and I were late for an appointment, we knew that our only hope of being on time was to grab a peddle bodda.  We called over two guys. They were looking really tired. This was going to be a slow trip. So we told them to get on the back and hold on tight. We then hopped on the front and peddled like mad!  We were racing down the dirt road, weaving between people, dodging pot holes and swerving around washed out areas trying to get to our appointment on time. As we were riding, we heard MAZOOONGU!!!! MAZOOOONGUUU!!!! and lots of whistles and laughs.  I don’t think they had ever seen a white guy transporting an Ugandan around on his peddle Bodda! LOL

As we were racing through town, every person that saw us would stop dead then start smiling, waving and yelling with excitement as they watched "the Reverse Bodda" race through the streets of Wankaluku (town in Kabowa).  We were making record time! When we arrived at our appointment, the owners of the bikes hopped off and looked at us in amazement. They didn’t say a word. They were stunned at our speed and efficiency. We then thanked them for letting us use their bicycles and allowing us to peddle instead of them. We gave them some money and went on our way :) (Afterwards, Elder Stewart and I got off, we laughed. We were so pumped that we had pulled that adventure off :)

(On my memory card [the one that I sent home] has some pictures of us racing around transporting some Ugandans on these peddle boddas.)
Peddle Bodda Without a Customer

Peddle Boddas Resting

Peddle Bodda Taxi Staging Area
Well that's my story for today :)

Now about the work:

As I remember, I had told you about Ben last week. (He is the only member in the family that is not baptized.) Well he is ready for baptism and will be baptized on the 30th of this month. Ben has been doing amazing. Since he has been attending church, it has made all the difference for him and his family. The whole family (except for Frank, his brother) has been kind of on and off again regarding commitment. However, since Ben started going it has really made a difference.

Since taking the lessons and his commitment to being baptized his whole family is completely active in the church. This past Sunday all eight people in the family came into church together and sat next to each other and stayed for the whole service. It is really amazing to see how people change when all are committed to the same ideals. Not only have they all become more active in the church but on top of that Michael the recent convert has had a struggling business for a long time that has really started to take off and has become really successful.  This is such a blessing because it allows the children to enjoy life (instead of working and worrying) and they have what they need.

The other person that we are teaching is a man named Ronnie. He was refereed to us by our recent convert Kennedy (the guy that we baptized about two months ago). We have been teaching Ronnie for the past few weeks and he finally came to church. Ronnie is 30 years old and is a successful business owner. The great part about him being a business owner is that he has a flexible schedule.
This past week he finally accepted a baptismal date and came to church as well. He was happy to be there and sat right next to Kennedy. Kennedy was very supportive. We were so grateful.

On top of that Kennedy this week was called to be the secretary in the Young Men presidency which was really cool. I could tell that he was nervous.  Elder Stewart and I sat down with him and talked to him about his calling and what he would be doing. After talking to him he became very confident in his abilities to do the calling that he was given. It was pretty cool!

They will big difference in the church. They are both very stable and have the ability to be flexible. They are both very smart people. I know that they will really help the church out a lot and it will be great to see :)

I sure love you all


Elder Bitter

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