I haven't wanted to write the rest of the story because all that really remains is the final days, the packing, the goodbyes, the leaving. I don't like to think about it, because somewhere inside I wanted to believe we never had to leave.
What can I share from those last lingering hours?
We spent an afternoon driving to various slum areas in Kampala, where one of our team hosts Bonny had lived. Many got off the bus and walked about with him, meeting the children who lived in those streets. I wasn't afraid of the faces, I was afraid of tripping on the rough roads, gutters, etc. and so Rick and I and a few others remained on the bus, learning choice tidbits about life from our driver. Even through bus windows we could tell that the poverty here was the worst we had seen. I thanked God that so many of these knew Him, for I knew that faith would sustain them while riches would not.
Back at the guesthouse, more clean laundry had been laid out. As I went through the piles of clothing I still could not find my favorite black capris. They had been missing earlier, and I had run about in a panic until I saw them still hanging on the line. Now, not only were they not in the stacks, but they were also missing from the line. I asked everyone I saw if they had seen them, but they seemed to be lost forever. I was unreasonably upset by this and went to our room to lie on the bed and weep. So now I felt both sad and foolish, and guilty as well. I had spent the afternoon seeing people who had nothing at all, and I was crying over a silly pair of pants. They were comfort clothes at a time when I felt I needed comfort. My soul was disquieted by all I had seen, and by all the farewells. In the midst of all this, I never got to say goodbye to a couple we had grown quite close to. Rob and Jo were already gone by the time I came out of our room. Likely God knew too many tears would have been shed and saved my eyes and sinuses.
Our numbers kept shrinking and we took less tables in the dining room that night for dinner. There wasn't a person there who didn't know about my missing clothing. It was decided we would have one last evening meeting under the gazebo that night. After dark, the insects can be ferocious, so I returned to our room to change into long sleeves and bug repellant. The missing capris were hanging on the doorknob. Oh, what unspeakable joy came over me as well as a sense of silliness! My pants and I were reunited and all was well with the world again. Rick was indeed quite relieved as well, for he hadn't known what to do with me.
The night was thick and the meeting was bittersweet. We worshipped our Lord singing both in English and Luganda. Our team host Andrew in a rare serious mood, suggested we share our prayer requests and pray for each other. Most were requests for direction from God about what the next step in our journies should and would be. In a gentle, and loving rebuke that showed wisdom beyond his years, our other host Kenneth said we all were too impatient, expecting instant answers from God. We needed to have faith that He would lead and guide us, in His time and in His way. There seemed to be concensus that none of us was anxious to return to the life we knew before we arrived. Kenneth reminded us that we had been called to those lives too.
All that remained was some shopping, more goodbyes, long hours of travelling and way, way too many tears. I left my heart on African soil and walked away changed in ways I don't yet comprehend. We left yearning to return.
We will return. We are now in the process of recruiting and planning to be the leaders of a team that will build in Gulu in January 2010. Is it too much money to raise? Is it too hard to build a cohesive team? For man, yes. For our mighty God, no!
"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26 NIV