Saturday, 11 May 2013

Processing Uganda: A Daughter's Perspective

When people heard that I was taking my 14 year old daughter on a missions trip to one of the poorest nations of the world, filled with poverty, conflict and the unknown, well, honestly, most were alarmed.  Many thought I was crazy.  Many, including some closest to us, tried to talk her out of going.  They were, of course, trying to protect her, but for the most part, the missions trip was a ridiculous notion she should forget about.

I bit my tongue and trusted the Lord, for it is He who began this journey and it would be He who finished it.  I encouraged my daughter to do the same.

Last week she spoke to our church about her trip.  These are her words, her thoughts, her experiences.  I think you'll agree, going was the right choice:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

If I had to give this trip a name, I would call it, "Trust in the Lord!".  As I stepped off that airplane in Entebbe, UG, feeling sick from flying 17 1/2 hours with only an hour break in between, I was terrified!  The mosquitos were beginning to buzz and bite.  I was scared of what may lie ahead, afraid of getting sick, and it was hot and dirty.

After retrieving our bags we headed out to load the vans.  While our drivers were trying to figure out how to get 46 bags, 10 kids, 8 mothers and themselves into 2 vans and one car, the power went out.  We were left in the dark, in an airport parking lot on the other side of the world.  Really what I felt like doing was throwing myself on the ground, crying and catching the next flight home.  I didn't.  Instead I got in the van and was soon even more horrified.

We began to drive when I realized that the driver was in the passenger seat, and we were driving on the wrong side of the road.  It's actually pretty scary when you're not expecting it.  They have no rules for driving, so as you can imagine it was scary.  Countless times I really thought we were going to get in an accident.

Although it seems like I am complaining and that it was a horrible night, I'm not.  It was one of the greatest nights, because God opened my eyes.  As we were driving to Kampala, I saw the homes where families lived their lives.  I was shocked!  I saw many pictures, but they don't tell half of the story; you just can't quite grasp it until you see it in person.  It was ridiculous to realize that we have so much and always want more, and we can be so miserable.  Yet these people have nothing and they are content with what they have and are so joyful.

That first night as I lay in bed under my  mosquito net, fretting about what may come, I began to pray.  I just poured our my heart, listed all the reasons I was scared.  Soon God showed me that all these reasons were selfish.  I was not in Uganda for me.  If I was going to go somewhere for me I would have gone to Florida.  I was in Uganda for God, for the kids, and I had to trust God.  I would not have been able to do the rest of the trip without God.

The rest of the week the Lord opened my eyes to many things.  We didn't go and build a school, or go in as super heroes to save the day.  We sat and rocked babies, read Bible stories, colored, did crafts and played with the kids we visited.  I'm not a handyman that can build a school.  I'm a 14-year old girl who is capable of giving love, so that's what I did.  I am only one person, I cannot change the world; but I can change the world for one person.

After an amazing life-changing week, it was time to leave.  Although I was able to hold my tears in until I got home, on the inside I was bawling.  I felt like a balloon and someone poked me with a needle and I deflated.  How could I leave this joyful, poverty-stricken country and come back to North-America where everyone would expect me to be the same Alli, and live life as 'normal'?  How could I go back to 'normal' after that?  I can't!

As I sat in English class my first day back at school, feeling so out of place, we were asked to write something about some North American 'issue'.  I wrote this:

I miss the hot sun, and nasty smells. I miss cuddling and loving with kids who don't get cuddled or loved.  I miss the big smiles, and the little kids chasing after the van full of mzungu waving, smiling and yelling, "Hi mzungu!".
I miss the bumpy roads and honking of horns.  I miss driving on the wrong side of the road, and the craziness of driving there.  I miss toilets that don't flush, and the showers without pressure.  I miss the red dirt staining my feet, and covering me.  I miss the new, fresh food.
I miss the overwhelming poverty, and the humbleness of the people who live in it.  I miss the mosquito nets and barking of dogs.  I miss waking up early, and going to be completely pooped, late at night.  I miss the happiness of those who have nothing and I miss my teammates. I miss the fear of the possibility of seeing freaky bugs. 
I miss the closeness of God.  I miss Uganda!


At 18 May 2013 at 14:20 , Anonymous Auntie Lisa said...

Alli: I think you are an amazing girl with a pure heart and I believe that your trip to Uganda was just the beginning of a life of adventures and changes for you. I love your faith in God and that you count on Him to get you through the scary and unknown. I am proud of you for putting your beliefs into practice and that you had the opportunity to give a piece of yourself to those less fortunate.


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