What Blessings May Come From a 1:00 a.m. Phone Call?

By Curtis K. Shelburne

I’ve got some work I need to finish up, but I’ll go to bed soon,” I told my already-in-bed-wife last night as I kissed her goodnight. “I don’t want to stay up too late, so I won’t work much longer.”

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” she smiled sleepily back.

She was right. Again.

When I did hit the bed, it was way later than I’d intended, but I went to be feeling good because of a phone call I’d just made to Uganda.

If you’re a regular reader of these columns, you know that my wife and I have two sons there right now doing mission work. And, yes, we know how to call Uganda. It’s not hard, and it generally makes me feel good.

But the call I made at 1:00 a.m. last night to Uganda (10:00 a.m. Uganda time) was not to our sons. It was to a man I’ve never met.

The quality of the call could have been better. I probably could have talked to Chris or Stephan on that connection easily, but it was just weak and staticky enough that talking to an honest-to-goodness Ugandan speaking English well but not as his first language and with a British accent was challenging.

It was probably a challenge for him, too. I was trying to speak the King’s English and lay aside my Texan tongue as much as possible, but I’m not sure I succeeded very well. As they’ve been on the phone to us, I’ve heard the boys say a phrase or two to Ugandans. It’s sort of surprising, but our guys sound just like Brits when they do that because that’s the English that folks over there understand. They don’t savvy Texan.

The gentleman on the phone with me last night had one of those wonderfully rich and deep African voices, pleasant to the ear even though I’m not sure how well we really communicated. 

I think he understood me when I said “Rotary,” for I’d gotten his phone number from the Rotary International web site as the contact person right there at the Mbale, Uganda, Rotary Club, meeting in the very hotel where our boys often eat dinner.

I think I got his e-mail address. I think he got mine. In any case, I’ll be sending Chris & Stephan to see him.

I wonder if he understood my words “Rotary Foundation Matching Grant”? No matter, he will. And I went to bed feeling good, no matter how well we communicated, knowing that because two guys halfway around the world from each other had just said, “Hello,” that two Rotary Clubs are connected, and, with God’s help and blessing, that connection may well mean that $15,000-$20,000 will find its way to Uganda to help make the lives of AIDS orphans there much better.

“Is it the truth?

“Is it fair to all concerned?

“Will it build good will and better friendships?

“Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

That’s Rotary’s “Four-Way Test.” If this gentleman, whose name I don’t know, and I both really live by that, yet another Muleshoe-Mbale connection is going to be an exciting thing!

Seems to me that Rotary’s Four-Way Test well embodies what God has long told us is the very best way to live.