Some weeks are dull, others dark and difficult. And then there are those filled with enthusiastic joy, or incredible milestones, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Living life has proven to us all — some weeks we trudge, and during others we dance.
When I think about the last two weeks, a silent, still, white slate appears in my mind. I had my dancing shoes on, for sure, and words seem inadequate. I cannot imagine there ever being an end to my description of the experience, and thus I am tempted not to utter a single syllable! It feels as though my innards – like dark, damp soil – are now home to numerous fragile seeds, and I fear that even the simplest speech could disrupt these precious contents.
That being said, I don’t dare keep quiet about everything that my last two weeks have held – how selfish that would be. And so a wrestling occurs within my being, with one part wanting to stay tight-lipped and the other wanting to share every last detail…
I think back a bit and recall:
Arriving at the Delta terminal on the afternoon of July 18th not really knowing any of my seven Empower African Children travel mates, and proceeding to join them for over 20 hours of travel towards Kampala, Uganda • Touching down for a short layover in Rwanda, where the stewardess announced that the president prohibited plastic bags, and where we briefly de-boarded to breathe in a welcoming breath with the wonderful scent of burning firewood • A late night arrival to our Kampala lodging where I slept soundly, shrouded by elegant mosquito netting • My first morning in Africa: a brisk walk through slum streets to 7:00am mass with a lovely lady I had met just hours before • Cradling precious babies who had been embraced by an overflowing orphanage • Countless hugs and hellos from Empower African Children students – young Ugandans whose resilience and strength stretches far beyond anything I’ve ever encountered • Watching the brilliant orange sun slowly rise as I walked through the hills of Kampala with EAC’s courageous leader Alexis and discussed the crazy “foolishness” of the Christian faith • Good local grub and starches galore – chipati, matooke, g-nut sauce, rolex, beans, rice, and posho • My head popping out the top of our safari jeep, eyes peeled for lions, giraffes, elephants, hippos, baboons, birds and the like •
Following our fearless guide Darryl up slippery trails (drenched by a downpour of African-sized raindrops) and then gazing upon Murchison Falls, where the Nile flows through a narrow 23-foot gorge and descends 141 feet at an incredible speed of 11,000 cubic feet per second • Renovating a meeting hall at the Youth Encounter the Savior community center, where the presiding priest’s heart contagiously bubbled with life, laughter, gratitude, and love •
Lunching one-on-one with Nicholas, a 23-year-old Lord’s Resistance Army survivor who has risen above his devastatingly painful past, has recently completed high school, and has now secured an internship cooking for one of Kampala’s few high-end restaurants • Being overcome with emotion as two dozen Ugandan young people – members of the Spirit of Uganda – sang, danced, and drummed mesmerizing traditional songs for us American visitors • Unrhythmically swaying my hips to Afrigo’s irresistible beats alongside all types of local characters, most notably the suspender-wearing fellow who loved to bounce and bump his huge, rounded belly • Photographing my new buddies pushing our beloved, broken-down bus (complete with an “Air Force One” license plate) out of our dinner restaurant’s dimly lit parking lot • Delivering fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains to an EAC student’s auntie who lived in a one-room stone and aluminum shack surrounded by barefoot little kiddos playing ever-so-joyfully amid chickens and litter •
These priceless memories are some of many. Thank you to everyone who has helped turn this trip – a long-time dream of mine – into a blessed reality.
Needless to say, the last two weeks have shaped my spirit and soul in ways that I do not yet, and perhaps will never, fully comprehend. The last two weeks have been filled with experiences that have paved new pathways in my heart and opened my eyes to unforeseen possibilities; they have introduced me to mass tragedies that keep replaying in my mind’s eye and calling me to respond with action; and they have brought me closer to our African brothers and sisters who live so very far away, as well as our Lord and Savior who dwells intimately within.
How have these last two weeks been for you?