Hey Friends! Yes, I made it to Bundibugyo! Our internet has been especially slow this week... And more so in the evenings when I would usually tend to write :) My updates will likely be a lot more few and far between while I'm up here because of the Internet connections. (Which apparently is even poorer right now than usual.) If you all don't hear from me for a bit-it's not because anything is wrong, but more likely just because I'd rather not engage in the internet "patience test" that day! I will try to send an update every 6 weeks.
We left Kampala Monday morning and made our way up into the mountains. I was amazed once again at the beauty of the tea plantations-acres and acres of carefully trimmed bushes. Our journey took a little bit longer than we had planned because one vehicle had a flat tire, and the other a bad gasket and loose fan belts-which don't mix well with the steep mountain climb :) TIA=this is Africa... Always an adventure! Did you know in Uganda that your mechanic will often make the journey to you? (Now that's service people! :) While we were waiting for the mechanic I chatted with some sweet children along the roadside and we also bumped into a couple National Geographic Photographers capturing the life of the people in the Ugandan countryside. My driver told me he thinks there may be a photo of a "certain" white lady surrounded by children in an upcoming photo journal, but I will likely never know :)
I also met some of the youngest "campaign staffers" in all my years of politics... A sweet young girl about 7 years old ran up to us on the roadside reciting what she had been told, which was along the lines of: "You must vote for Museveni the incumbent, otherwise there will be fighting and people will be killed." (Democracy is still very much in its early stages here, but in time we pray it will mature.) The election is now just days away, but we don't expect too much trouble-nor any big changes.
Despite our delays along the journey, we made it here before dark and I was welcomed by the team on the ground. I'm so thankful for my new team and I've enjoyed beginning to get to know them. I hope to take some time this next week to accompany them to the different projects they're involved with to get a better understanding of what they're doing and their vision for the work God has for each of them here. They have very graciously hosted me in their homes these last 5 days for lunches and dinners, which was so sweet and helpful of them.
These first few days have been spent scrubbing, cleaning, bleaching and unpacking! The house us girls arrived back to had been vacant over Christmas and it seems some rodents had taken up residence in our absence. The mattress in my bedroom had apparently become a nest, but our sweet house helper had already taken up the war against said resident before our arrival. There has still been some considerable "action" in my room at night-but I only see the results in the morning-such as a moved trap from which it escaped, and this morning it looks like he simply chewed the edges of the trap? (There are bits of black plastic on the floor ). Tonight I will "up the game" and put out the bigger traps in the room. Amazingly enough, I have heard none of these going-on's at night... But have been sleeping soundly in my bed with my net tucked in all the way around! (Mosquito nets aren't just for bugs :-) Sleeping soundly is something that can be a struggle here for our team, so I am thankful to God for His gift of good rest so far!
This week God also gave me another sweet blessing and sign of His grace-my household goods which have been in storage here in Uganda (in rather sketchy storage sheds) for almost 2 years were fine! As I watched my roommates bleach and clean their closets from mould and such from just being away for a few months, I expected the very worst knowing that my things had been away for much longer... BUT I literally pulled out my duvet and things from storage and put them directly on my bed-they smelled fresh and clean, just like they did when I packed them up! I'm thankful for this unexpected and supernatural sign of God's grace and love for me. My little room is looking like home and I'm settling in.
Some of you read my blog update from last week on the paradoxes of going and returning... On the mix of the joys and burdens of holding two very different lives and countries in your hands and hearts. It has been sweet to see how my old Ugandan friends are also recognizing and processing this-one of them said to me earlier this week: "how do the people at home ever let you go? How do they do it? ... I don't know how to describe it, but when you left us, we had a big gap... We suffer a wound from which we shall never recover." This brought joy to my heart because of the sweet friendship and connection that God had blessed me with from my old Ugandan village; and it also brings tears because I and they still miss our friendship so very much. Thank God with me for the fellowship He gave me with these people, and pray that He would bring the same friendship and connection with the new people I will be living among here in Bundibugyo.
Another sweet blessing I had in Kampala was running into Samwell again. About 3 years ago he had driven me on his Boda-almost completely across Kampala. As we began to chat he asked why I was here, why I lived here... And our conversation turned to spiritual things. I sensed a very strong spiritual hunger and I shared the gospel with him. When the ride was finished I asked him if He had a Bible and he said no. When I paid him for his "taxi" service, the Spirit prompted me to give him extra money to purchase a Bible in Luganda. I honestly wasn't sure if the money would ever be used for this... But apparently it was! When I visited Uganda 1 1/2 years ago I bumped into him and his fellow Boda drivers said he was always reading the Bible and Samwell eagerly shared what he had read that day. Well, this last weekend I ran into him again and I was so encouraged to see him continuing to read and grow in the faith! (Dad, he was asking about my "Taata"... And he sends his greetings to you :) We took a photo of him for you, but I will have to send it later.) Meeting him again and seeing his steadfastness in the faith brought back the verse to mind about the sweet blessing of "fruit that remains." Thank you Jesus! Pray that God would continue to give us fruit that remains and that He would protect the seed that is planted from the evil one who would seek to choke it out.
Pray that God would give me His patience and grace to settle in here as I don't know the language here at all and as I adjust to this new place. One of the blessings of returning and having previous experiences is that you can almost feel like clockwork the different stages of grieving, adjusting, the joys, not knowing your exact place, and the excitement and adventure of the new. Yesterday I had some tears of missing the old, missing family and friends, mixed with the joys of the new... And I remember having these about the very same time in my old village :)
Pray for us as the staff at Christ School return later this next week, and the students will return once the election is complete. I met and chatted with our new Headmaster last night-he is full of determination and and eagerness to make things happen! (I think we will be good friends, as he is a "get it done!" Type of person and describes himself as such :)
Thank you so much for your continued prayers, notes, and friendship. I can feel your prayers. The first morning when I awoke here God put the verse on my mind:
"God is within her, she will not fail. He will help her at break of day." He is with us always and I am so very thankful for that!