People ask me, "What was Uganda like?" "Did you have fun?" "Is it really as bad as they say?" I don't know what to say. I don't know how to answer them. Words are not enough, and even if they were my vocabulary isn't sufficient enough to formulate my thoughts into sentences that someone else could understand.
It irritates me when someone asks me, "did you have a good time, was it fun?" It's not their fault really; they weren't there. They didn't experience hundreds of children lining up for their ONLY meal. They didn't experience playing with the little boy whose bottom hung out of his pants because his pants resembled something I might use to dust my coffee table. They didn't feel like a terrible person watching a young man strap four 5gallon buckets to his bicycle to get more water because we thought we deserved a shower. None of those things were fun. Getting on the bus at the end of the day and feeling inadequate and unworthy isn't a good time in my book.
How do I describe Uganda? Words like amazing and awesome are the better words I've found. Words I feel like don't discount the experience, or the people. The people we met were amazing..and awesome...amazingly awesome...awesomely amazing!
Everyday we went to one of the care points we were greeted by the screams and songs and cheers of the children. Imagine when your favorite band gets on stage to play how the arena goes wild. We were that band and they were our biggest fans. Funny thing is even though they probably don't realize it we felt the same way about them. Each day I couldn't wait to get to the kids and each night I was sad to be leaving them. They energized me. Made me happy, made me smile. They were so eager to play and learn our songs. "Yes, yes, yes" become like music to me. We'd play catch and they all wanted the ball and rather than saying "me me me" they said "yes yes yes" and it was beautiful.
One day I sat surrounded by P1 and P2 girls and we sang Jesus Loves Me. They had the motions down and were mimicking me in perfect English and harmony and it brought me to tears. Even if these children didn't realize what they were singing, Jesus did. Even if these children didn't realize what they were saying I know that they know that Jesus Loves Them! They have such a beautiful, simple faith. They KNOW Jesus loves them. When you look at these children, when you see the elders, you can see their faith. When you hear them sing and praise the Lord you can feel their faith. It is a faith unlike any other I've ever experienced. It grips you. It hits every nerve in your body. Unlike us, myself, their faith isn't contingent on what they have or what they don't have. They know where their source of strength is and it doesn't waiver.
We had the blessing of attending a church service our first Sunday there. I've NEVER experienced a service like it. It was moving. The Bible was read in a language I didn't understand, songs were sang in a language I didn't understand and yet I comprehended everything. I didn't have to understand the language, their faith and worship is tangible; you just feel it. Sean preached an amazing sermon, it spoke to me that day and has for several days since.
Each day we were in a care point we had the honor of serving the children their meal. One day, the first, we set out to feed 600 children. We planned for it...but it's Africa and as we learned on day one, what we planned for didn't always matter. It was our first experience with running out, not having enough. We prayed because we were upset, we couldn't comprehend not having enough to feed everyone, our prayers were answered in a way bigger than we could have imagined. More food was cooked and everyone was given a plate. What we found out was in OUR planning for 600, in our frustration with running out over 1000 kids were fed. God's plan is always bigger than ours and God always provides. The people of Uganda know this; we still had to learn it.
In Uganda I also got to know people from my church, the other 9 people on this journey with me. I had feared going to Uganda and feeling alone. I couldn't have been alone if I wanted to! They are the best people you could ever hope to meet. God knew what he was doing when he put us together. (That sounds like such a stupid sentence, OF COURSE God knew what he was doing, duh!) I can't imagine what the trip would have been like with anyone else, or without one of them. I have made lifelong friends, they are my family now. (Sorry guys, your stuck with me!) These people GET me. When everyone else is tired of hearing about Africa, when I can see the frustration in their face as I compare yet another thing to Africa I know that THEY get me. When I can't find words other than "I miss it" I know that I don't have to elaborate for them because their response is "I know, me too" and I find more comfort in that than you can imagine. We have jokes and funny experiences that fill our facebook pages. I've tried to explain them to some of my other friends, but like any good inside joke you had to be there.