Leaving Uganda

Brandon said it well in a post on facebook:  "Every team I have been a part of has a mix of different emotions, exhaustion, reflection & anticipation for returning to loved ones at home."

It's difficult to describe in words.  It's difficult to try and mentally process our conflicting emotions as we come to the end of our time in Uganda and think about heading home. I have tried many times now and just can never seem to get it quite right.  I have to say that for me personally, this was the hardest yet. I found myself so overwhelmed on Sunday that when our team was finally reunited, I couldn't bear to hear about the going away ceremony in Kacungwa - I just didn't have the emotional strength right then to take hearing about the incredible love of our friends there as the team said good-bye.

On Sunday, it was our final day in Uganda.  I had not seen the rest of our team in almost a week. They had spent the week in Kacungwa while I returned to Ggaba to work on some projects there. Sean, Emily and Saylor returned to the US on Thursday and I didn't even get to say good-bye.  The rest of the team had gone to Luzira (The City Church) and Ken preached at Alex Mutagubya's church on Sunday morning.  I went to Ggaba Community Church and was blessed to hear Pastor/Doctor Martin preach.

Sooooo...let me give this another try and describe the emtions experienced at the end of a trip to Uganda. 

The main reason it's so hard to leave Uganda is the people.  I've thought back through the past few weeks at some of the experiences and have pictures that try to capture some of what we experience. Of course they're only pictures and don't convey the true emotions and feelings of the moment, they do provide some measure of the experience.

One of the most special moments I can think back to was the moment when two pastor's wives had a long-awaited greeting.  Two women who have heard about each other for so many years finally got to meet and to hug and to cry.  Those of us watching could only stand and experience the meeting of hearts.

Then there are the children.  I think anybody you ask what their most joyful moments in Uganda are, they would tell you it is the time with the children.  Whether with their sponsored children, children of the village, or children they encounter along the way, they will tell you that the children captivate their thoughts and hearts.


When I first went to Uganda in 2012, I felt very much the "visitor".  I didn't know anybody but was so welcomed and felt loved.  Now, as Didas told me, "We no longer call you visitor, but we call you Uncle and Auntie".  

It is a different relationship - not between strangers, but between friends based on a common love for Jesus Christ our Lord.  Our hearts have been knit together by God in a way that can only be understood if you experience it.  We know names, faces, have some history and have both ministered and worked together.  Through our collaboration with the church in Kacungwa, we have seen the village of Kacungwa transformed.  God has truly done a work in His church through this partnership.

God challenges our faith and grows it to new levels.  He asks us to follow him to the poor and the broken - trying to comprehend how God can allow the kind of suffering we get only a glimpse of in the slums.  I confess this is my biggest struggle...

Lonely nights under the mosquito nets in a dark and quiet country with God as our constant companion are actually precious times. I know that I personally grow closer to God in such an intimate way while in Uganda - a treasure in my heart that I value greatly.  It's something that I pray I can carry back home, but do not seem to be able to once I get back to work and daily life.  God,  help me to never forget these moments under the net in Your presence.

We see true faith in a way that we seldom experience.  People trust and experience God in a way that we can only imagine until we see and experience in Uganda.  We experience generosity in measure that we could only hope to one day have in our hearts.

We long for our homes, for familiar surroundings, for foods we are used to eating, for our own beds but most of all, for our families and those we love at home.  It is such an overwhelming time to try and process all of the memories and conflicting feelings.  All we can do is to sit silently and try our best to sort it out in our minds.

Once again, I think I've failed to do an adequate job of putting the emotions to words.  Those of us who have been and gone through it will understand this time and tell you what a challenge it is to try to describe.  I think I've realized that unless you've been on a similar journey, you will never truly understand.  My prayer is that through the words, pictures and our best efforts to convey God's work through the people at Canby Christian Church, you will be inspired to stretch out your faith in action at home or wherever God leads you.


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