Well, we are 3 months removed from arriving back on stateside from our mission trip to Uganda and I have tried over and over again to write the last entry of my journal from the trip. Every time I have thought about it I have had something else to do or I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write it. Partly because I feel that if I write it then as time goes by I will forget the lessons God has taught me from my time spent in that beautiful country. So, the time has come to finish the trip, give a well deserved thank you to the many who have been a part of the trip and look forward to what God is going to do in the future.
Since I only had two days notice before leaving for Uganda, it took some huge finagling to secure who would take care of the kids and work out their schedules while we were gone. I had to give notice that I could not be a VBS director, notify my sister and tell her I would not be in town when she came in, but she would be more than welcome to still stay at our house, and a multitude of other details including packing. Being the type of person who always likes to be in control and hardly ever does spontaneous things, this was way out of character for me. However, it was as if the Lord already knew way in advance what would be taking place (imagine that) and had everything already lined out. Everything just seemed to fall into place by his hand and I was at total peace about the whole thing. Little by little things came together and got done in a matter of 48 hours. God brought everything to my mind that needed to be taken care of while we were gone.
One thing I think that has been so hard in trying to finish this accounting of our trip is that even when we were in Uganda those last few days it did not seem like we were through. Yes, we were at the resort and enjoying a little R&R, but it felt like there was still so much more that God wanted to teach and show us and use us that it did not seem quite time to leave. But, schedules have a way of orchestrating what does and does not happen so we finished off our trip with a Ugandan wedding and a white water rafting trip down the Nile river.
On our last Saturday, we attending an African wedding. It was extremely interesting to see a different culture and the way they perform wedding ceremonies. When we arrived, the Muzungu’s were quickly ushered into the church as honorary quests. While we were on time, Ugandan weddings begin when the bride and groom get there. And as you know there is no air conditioner, so we sat there all dressed up in our “party” wear (the guys in their suit and ties and the ladies in our Ugandan dresses) awaiting the wedding party. I felt really bad for the guys because it was so hot and they were all sweating underneath their suits. While we waited there were two DJ’s that were giving us play by play of what was happening. One was speaking in their native tongue and the other in English. It was very comical. They finally announced that the bride and groom where almost to the church and the people slowly began to gather in the church. The wedding began and it was similar to our traditional American wedding, but the bride and groom NEVER SMILED!! We were all questioning whether this was an arranged marriage because they did not look like they were happy to be getting married. We later found out that it is their tradition to keep a solemn face because they hold the marriage covenant in high regard.
Pastor Morris gave the sermon. Not only was his message right on target, but he delivered it in such an awesome manner that everyone was caught up in the responsibility that marriage brings for the couple. We were also laughing so much that we did catch the bride and groom smile once!! After the ceremony was over we headed outside for the reception. The cake was cut and then the clouds covered the sky and sure enough the afternoon rain came. We were offered the covered tent as protection, but we quickly jumped into the vans and waited until the rain settled down a little. We were all drenched. We gave the bride and groom our prayers and blessings and headed back to the hotel while the other guests continued to celebrate this new couple and the life they will live together.
The comical DJ’s waiting for the bride and groom
Pastor Morris giving the wedding sermon
Exchange of the rings
A little more relaxed after the ceremony
Back at the hotel we gathered up translator gifts, packed our bags in preparation to leave for Jinga the following day after church.
Sunday, July 4
The final Sunday we were there I taught the children’s Sunday school and Scott preached the Sunday morning message to the church. God’s Holy Spirit was filled in the church and God’s words were in Scott’s mouth as he was overshadowed by God’s power. The message delivered that last Sunday affected everyone in attendance as we were reminded to live in the shadow of the cross and the ramifications the cross has for Christians every day of our lives. After the service we went back to the hotel to pick Melissa up who was battling a migraine and then we had a surprise visit to Lulwanda where we ate our lunch. While we had all said goodbye to the kids on Friday, it was a special treat to see all of the kids one more time before leaving. The kids sang and danced for us while we cheered and encouraged them. But, then it was time to say goodbye one more time. We hugged Sarah one last time and with tears in our eyes we boarded the vans and headed to Jinga.
Scott preparing to preach
Children singing and dancing for us
Monday, July 5
We awoke on Monday to the beautiful site of the Nile river. We were scheduled that morning to go white water rafting. What an experience. Scott and I had never been before and it was an indescribable event. After we safely arrived back at the hotel mid-afternoon, we spent the rest of the day relaxing around the pool and I finished reading a book called Blue like Jazz. The evening was spent packing up one last time to prepare for our departure to the states the next day. Scott and I were so ready to see the kids!! The next day, we headed to the Muzungu market and made our purchases and then boarded the plane for the long trip back home.
As I type this floods of emotions come over me as I can close my eyes and be right back there in Uganda. I can see Sarah there at the orphanage, I can see the Uganda people in the village of Sibanga and their desire to find out more about this God who loves them, I can see the deep longing for God’s love in the eyes of the children at the schools. I am still in awe of the power and ways of God that I was allowed to go on this trip. God is so good and amazing and works all things according to his plans, his good and pleasing will (Romans 8:28).
This concludes my last journal entry. So where does this leave me. It leaves me sitting here on my back porch watching the fog clouds roll through my backyard. God allowed me and the rest of the team to gently roll past the lives of the people of Uganda and graciously offer to them the gospel message that changes lives. My prayer is that the people we encountered while we were there are still being affected by the message of the gospel and our sharing that truth with others. While we will never know the complete working of God in the lives of all the individuals that we came in contact with, God does and he is completing the work he began in their lives as well as our own. Thank you for being a part of this trip. Whether you contributed financially, through your prayers, through taking care of our children, or offering encouragement, you too touched the lives of the Ugandan people!!