“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
SO much has happened these past week and a half since arriving here at VOH and it has been such a killer not having internet to be able to blog everyday and share everything that I have been experiencing so far. However, one thing that I have learned that I didn’t realize before is that although it is nice to have internet and be able to communicate back home in the US, it is even nicer to unplug and be totally available to my surroundings and all that the Lord wants to share with me on a daily basis. He gives us our daily bread and sometimes not much else so that has definitely been a learning experience here- learning to live with the basics.
Just the daily necessities like bathing and going to the bathroom can be a chore on some days. I can’t just walk down the hall to the bathroom in my pajama shorts or run around barefoot. To go bath, I first need to make sure I am even wearing modest clothing to go outside in the first place (pants must be at least to my knee in length so Nike shorts are so not cool here), get all my soaps, towel, shower shoes, fill my bucket with enough water from the jerry cans, along with making sure I have a cup in that bucket so I don’t have to shower using my hands as a water scoop, and fill my plastic bag with the clothes I will be changing into. Then I walk to one of the bathing stalls and try my hardest to get myself clean with the bare necessities that I have. There is not running water in that stall, no nice shower head, or even the fact that you are completely alone in that dark little room, for spiders and little African bugs make great bathing companions. The entire process seems miserable when compared to our luxurious standards in the US, but the feeling of accomplishment and cleanliness after I have completed this task, the feeling of knowing that I can live on the bare necessities comfortably really amazes me every time. I know we hear this reminder constantly that we take so many things for granted, which is a pretty true statement, but sometimes when we lose those things that we are so comfortable with, when we lose those things that we once thought we couldn’t live without, that space that those things once took up can be so freeing and beautiful and truly an opportunity to see the Lord in all His majesty. He is bigger than those things and His free-flowing grace covers all, even when we feel awkward and uncomfortable and naked. When you realize that all you truly need is Him, those bucket showers become that thing that is most comfortable and maybe even a luxury.
Living at Village of Hope has been amazing so far and I wish I had the time and space to write everything that I have experienced thus far. The kids, first off, have probably been my most favorite part of being here in Uganda. Literally, every moment is filled with laughter and the greatest joy I have witnessed in a long time. These kids allow you to make a fool out of yourself, a fool for Jesus, for you know that trying to learn Acholi and know that you are mispronouncing those words wrong brings happiness and light to their days. That is just a mere example of all the fun that this mazungu and these kids have on the daily. We have had a couple guitar/ukulele lessons, some UNO tournaments, late night reading sessions, crazy African dancing opportunities, and some one on one chats in the fields at sunset. I’ve even gotten an Acholi name, pronounced Ah-bay, which means “good,” and the nickname “Lion” from a nine-year-old girl here named Tracey (I gave her the nickname “Monkey” in return.)
All in all, life is good and peachy and wonderful and filled with the grace and goodness that only comes from the Lord. I have gotten to adventure while I’ve been here as well and I am going to end the blog with a story that occurred Sunday afternoon:
Village of Hope is located is about 9 miles from the Nile River, and there was no way my mom could leave Uganda without adventuring over to see it, so after church that morning, me, Janelle and Jenna Doud, Hope, my mom, Donna, and three Ugandian VOH staff embarked on the trek to the Nile. First, we took bodas, or small motorcycles, to get to the river and passed many herds of cattle, small villages, and a gorgeous Uganda countryside. Alex, a staff member here, and three of his buddies drove the four bodas it took to get all of us out there. When we got to the Nile, we decided to cross it in two small canoes carved out of tree trunks. The Nile is full of dangers, such as crocs and a swift strong current, to name a few, so I was thankful to have the Ugandian men in the canoes rowing and guiding us to the other side. We then crossed back over pretty soon after arriving on the other side due to heavy rain clouds in the distance and our goal was to get back to VOH before the heavy downpour that was yet to come. As you can guess, though, that did not happen, and this is where the true adventure begun…at least for me and Donna. All in all, I will summarize the trip back to VOH in the following equation: Rain+Mud+Bad Tires+Oncoming Traffic= Boda accident. TWICE. Now, do not worry. We both were completely, totally ok- just a little bruised and VERY muddy. What happened was, as we were driving down the muddy road, we were met on one occasion with a white van and another boda on another, and being the smaller vehicle, we tried to move out of the way so that they could continue on their way. Well, as we were trying to avoid hitting each of them head on, the ever increasing mud and lack of traction caused our motorcycle to flip over, sending us sliding along the side of the road. Thank goodness we were not going super fast and the mud did provide a good cushion to fall on. The same deal happened later with the approaching boda and poor Sadat, our driver, pulled his groin so bad that he could not continue. Eventually Donna and I made it back, thanks to Alex doing double time, completely rain soaked and our legs red with Ugandian mud. We ended that afternoon with some homemade hot chocolate and a fun story to tell the other staff members.
I just had to include that story! So exciting! Anyways, thank you all for the many messages I have received since being here and prayers. I still have moments where I can’t believe I am here in Uganda and am so excited to see all that the Lord continues to show me in the upcoming weeks and few months. Be praying for amazing encounters with the Lord and that I would continue to develop good relationships with the kids, along with cool moments to pour individually into them. Also, be praying that the wifi situation levels out- out here in rural Africa, it is a necessity in some ways.