Yesterday, the first two teams left for Uganda, and we just received word that they arrived safely. At this time I can well understand their complete exhaustion. After a five-hour van trip to Dulles, a four-hour wait for the flight, two eight-hour flights, and a one-hour drive to a “hotel,” all you want to see is some kind of a shower and a bed. And yet the road from Entebbe to Kampala is full of life, even at 10:00 in the evening.
Here we are used to the night sky being lit up by bright outdoor lighting, but along this road, even though there is electricity, lights are dim. People mill about the dusky roadside stores in a twilight. They walk the dirt roadside in darkness. There are small grocery stores, a pool hall, a discotheque, and other unnamed kiosks, end-on-end clapboard shacks colored mostly by the signs of cell phone providers. People call to one another and sing. Everywhere you hear singing and laughter, even in the midst of what looks like poverty or near poverty for most who live here. The dust mixed with charcoal form burning fires and sewage and garbage makes the unique smell of urban Africa.
I’m a little envious of them just now, being whisked along in the vans, laden down by people, narrowly missing cars and motor scooters along the blacktop north of Entebbe, talking excitedly about what lies ahead. For most of them, it is not a new experience, as many went to Uganda last year, but still every trip is a new experience, full of new impressions, personalities, and challenges.
I’m getting ready. I have my packing list out. I’m trying to summon up the memory of how I managed it all last year to help me plan this excursion. More than that, I’m trying to summon the energy to walk, work, and water fields of experience we only touched down on last year, to meet new children, to give up my time alone, to forget about being dirty and at times uncomfortable, to turn down the heat on the American obsession with self, on my own me-centeredness. Only God can do that.
They’ll be in Kaihura tomorrow. They’ll walk the hill to Faith Kunihura’s home. Maybe someone will have a man beside him as I did last year who is repeating to himself “This is God’s work, this is God’s work.” It’s hard work, but it’s good work, and no matter what work goes on outside, God is doing a work inside us all.