This morning, I was thinking that one year ago I was there. This is not too far-fetched, but definitely strange when I consider my current life in comparison to those frightening, miraculous, unordinary, and simply stunning days last March.
And here are a few snippets…
His name was Wilfred, I think. Team, please correct me if I’m wrong. This young man was “scrawny.” He was supposed to protect the six of us white girls during the wee hours of the night, utilizing his gargantuan bow and arrow if he deemed necessary. Pastor Moses hired him after a local seized my teammate, Katie’s eye glasses and other critical items. The one minor problem with Wilfred was that half of the time I saw him at his post out front, he was sound asleep in the plastic chair. I didn’t spot a single energy drink during that month in Wobulenzi, so I let the poor guy off the hook.
There was this chicken. It had a combination of black, brown, and reddish feathers. Oh, that chicken. Its preferred nest just so happened to be another teammate, Shay’s bed. More than once, she found an egg nestled in her sheets.
Pastor Moses began a school for orphans and at-risk children. Hope Infant Primary in Wobulenzi. Within the first few moments of being there, I was in shambles on the inside, attempting to keep decent composure on the out. The teachers lacked knowledge on even the most basic subjects. Shoes were a rarity for these precious kiddos. Even more scarce was food. The school provided them with a cup of porridge (basically watery cream of wheat that isn’t as flavorful) during the day. Thinking about this again makes me want to take every Lunch-able I ever ate and….I don’t know, send them to Africa. Anyway, the students brought their own cups from home. Since every kid didn’t have one, those without would wait for the more privileged children to finish. By that time, we were about to scrape bottom. Though the portions were a bit smaller toward the end, somehow there was just enough.
Most days, I would wake up early and run along the main dusty road. The sunrises were so utterly magnificent that I tear up even now, thinking on His splendor. There were scores of children making their lengthy journeys to school, many with Muslim hats and head coverings. It wasn’t a rarity to have some run with me for a few moments until they got tired. The road was so dusty that by the time I got home, my sweaty wet skin had a nice red film. It was super uncomfortable then, but I’d do almost anything to be there, experience it all over. Funny how that works.
After breakfast, we would usually meet up with our translators: David, Eve, and Eve.
There was this place. It was called the “boozing place.” Yes, the folks drank quite a bit of alcohol here. Ok, they drank more than that. I should clarify that this booze wasn’t a Tusker or Singha. Instead, they would sit around large buckets of a murky sludge, each with some sort of long reed acting as a makeshift straw. Drinking is always an elevated, touchy subject on the mission field. While I believe in good beer and wine, believers over there flee from even a drop of alcohol. I found it difficult to go into ministry with locals who preached that the “boozers” were going to Hell because they drank. There is more to say of course…in their defense and mine. During one of our door-to-door (or bar-to-bar) times, I talked to a man in about his forties who had gone to seminary in NW Africa and used to be a pastor. His English was quite good and we could get by without a translator. Here he was drinking the sludge in a shack in a village, talking to me about his frustrations with the church and its people. I got to share mine. It was a brutally honest conversation. He told me that I gave him hope. I told Him that it was the Father who had orchestrated our meeting. He couldn’t deny and we both basked in that moment.
In Uganda, I was served the best food out of all 11 countries. Undoubtedly, there were beans and there was rice. Chapati, eggplant, bananas, ground nuts, chicken, plantains, and spinach were a few of the other staples. They don’t sound spectacular, but Mama and her assistant, Eve (different from the other two Eve’s) knew how to cook and spice to perfection. Our poor contacts in Tanzania and Rwanda could have taken a lesson, for Uganda had some delectable eats.
On one of my days off, I was walking into town to get some dial-up internet. All of a sudden, a woman sprints after me. I scream. She chases my teammate and I for a good while, talking to herself and every once in a while, yelling at us. I suppose this could happen in DC as well.
I hope that I never discount the privilege it was to speak to high school students about sex, AIDS prevention, and purity.
I blogged about it.
The most thrilling event of my life thus far occurred in this country. Rafting the Nile and many of its class V rapids produced a few frightening spills, but is something I recommend to the highest degree of recommendation. My body almost exploded because of all the adrenaline.
There is so much more. There are more stories of miracles, terror, faithfulness, and revelation. This land stirred and destroyed my life for the good…for the pursuit of Love and spreading that Love.
I’m in Washinton, D.C. (or in the vicinity thereof) trying my best to maintain this spirit of adventure, expectancy, Kingdom-mindedness. And while I’m trying so incredibly hard, I’m learning that I simply need to rest and be, for though the culture is drastically different, these experiences are all around.
*Photo Credits to Stephanie May