Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I have crossed the ocean to get here!

2009 Arrival

Wow. It is really wonderful to be back in Uganda. I thouroughly enjoyed my time in the USA and was so grateful to the Lord for all the people I was able to see and the opportunities I had to share the work that is happening and hope that is being restored at LCH. But there is a big difference between getting to share through my words and getting to share my life with these kids, so I am glad to be back. Still the Lord confirms that this is exactly where I am suppose to be.

So, of course there were some tears at the airport saying goodbye. I am just not good with goodbyes. My family and two friends escorted me to the airport. Thankfully, all suitcases weighed under the limit. I won’t lie, I was really sweating it. But they all registered at about 49 lbs… one pound under limit!! Praise the Lord. After getting through security and waving my last goodbyes, my stomach finally settled a bit. My thoughts… “Well, this is it. I am off again.” What a wonderful adventure God has already prepared for me. He faithfully led me, held me, kept me, taught me, helped me to adjust, and loved me through the people of Uganda, so I have no doubt that He will do that again.

Flying from Austin to Uganda is a LONG flight. Well, really it is 3 flights lasting 27 hours in total (with layovers). No matter who you are or how many movies they offer on the plane, anyone might get a little stir crazy. I was amused during my layover in Detroit by all the people walking past this water display, like a fountain. They would video or touch or little kids would throw coins. There was even a group of tourists who set their video on the ground and would try to capture a jumping shot in front of the fountain. You would see them jump and then here nothing but giggles. Upon making my way to the international flight terminal, I realized that I HAD been to the Detroit airport before. I knew because of this cool tunnel designed to distract you from the long walk. There are lights and drum noises playing as kind of a show as you walk through. This is a bad description, but if you have walked through it you know what I am talking about and that it is pretty cool. The rest of the flights and layovers were pretty uneventfyul (which is good). From Detroit to Amsterdam, there were only 100 people on that huge plane, so I literally had the entire row to myself, which is always nice for sleeping.

As I was waiting and praying that all my bags had made it in my plane in Uganda, my excitement started to grow. Who would be waiting around that glass wall to pick me up? It had been talked about that maybe some kids but I knew they had school. So, with my 4 cases on the cart, I wheeled out and saw 4 smiling faces jump over the rope to greet me: Glenn, Mike (a worker from LCH), Zora (my friend from Mbale that moved to Kampala) and Jimmy (the driver). I was excited to see them and so glad to not have to fly anymore. But the main story I wanted to tell was about Mike. As I mentioned before, he is a worker at LCH and comes from the village where LCH is. AND this was his very first time, in his life (he is at least 28), to go to Kampala. When you come from the village, usually there is no reason to make it all the way to the capital. So, Glenn had promised Mike that he could come to pick me up. In the van I heard stories of how Mike asked questions the whole way to Kampala, about how many planes he saw on the airstrip, about the number of cars and the traffic on the roads. It was awesome to hear his excitement. Then we were able to eat at a nice hotel, another first for Mike, who asked about how to use the fork and knife at the same time. We told him not to mind and just to eat. The next morning, I slept in a bit and found Mike sitting in the car, ready to go see more sights. As we got into the van to go for shopping, Glenn translated for me that Mike was just overjoyed to have slept in a “double story brick building”. We went shopping at a place called Garden City, which is really nice and has many shops. Of course, knowing that everything is new to Mike, we instructed him how to step onto the escalader and watched him stumble a bit getting off of the moving stairs. While leaving, Me, Glenn, and Mike went into the elevator while Jimmy walked down the stairs. I wish I had a camera of Mike’s face as he stepped out and realized that while we were in the “box” we had moved locations from where we started. He then saw Jimmy coming still walking down the stairs and started slapping all of our hands. Over and over on our ride back to Mbale we would hear Mike from the front seat say, “Ah! Kam-pal-la!” When we got back to Mbale, we sent Mike back to the village with bread, butter, sugar, and jam, so that he would have something to show his family from his trip to the capital. I have heard stories of how jam was new for the family and his kids ended up eating the jam by the spoonfuls. Since getting back, Mike has thanked me everyday for all that I have done for him, but I keep refuting that I only flew in to Uganda. Today he told me that my being here has been a blessing to him. He even gave a testimony at church on Sunday about his experiences in the big city. He was so happy. Really that made my whole 27hour exhaustion worth it.

I couldn’t wait to see the kids again, so the first chance was after church. As we arrived at the gate I could see the kids that were opening the gate shouting at the other, “It’s Auntie Natalie!” So, as we parked, I was swarmed by hundreds of little arms to give me hugs. Oh, I love these kids. I was able to visit for a little bit and then allowed them to continue with their evening activities. This week, I have been organizing me classroom, meeting the new teachers and students, and setting up my timetable for phonics. I really enjoy these kids. Today there was a group of kids after class that gathered and sang for me the new songs that they had been learning.

I feel like I am catching up very quickly. I am already back to Matoke and gnuts. From the children’s home to friends in town and at church, everyone has been so excited and welcomed me back “home.” And I do feel like it is home; like I have two homes. Well, this is long enough. Thanks for finishing if you are still reading. I am trying to get stable internet in my room, but feel free to email me and I will get back to you when I can. As always, thanks so much for praying for me.

11 comments:

Kimo said...

Nat-

So glad you are there safely. I will print this out tomorrow and allow my kids to read it. I'll see if we can get some letters written and shipped off. I/We love you and miss you dearly already. Be blessed!

Kimo

Anonymous said...

Glad you made it back safe Nat. The story about Mike was great. How cool is that! I bet those kiddos missed ya! We are praying for you and love you!
Ash and Bret

Brenda said...

Hey Natalie,
Wanted you to know that I got to the end of your post! You are a good writer so it really isn't hard to continue reading your posts. I am so glad you made it back to Uganda safely and that you are settling back in quickly. It sounds like you had a wonderful welcome wagon just waiting for you to get back. I'll be checking in on your regularly but I would still like to hear from you privately occasionally.
Love you!
Aunt Brenda

Anonymous said...

Be my Valentine!!!!
It was great having you at home for the short time you were here and catching up with your friends who visited. Time will go by fast and before you know it you will be in Austin again. It always is hard to see you go but I know you are enjoying your life as it is alway exciting. Be safe and have fun.
Love Dad

Kimberrykim said...

Great stories! Glad things are going well! Take care!

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful story Nat. Thanks for sharing about Mike...that definitely put a smile on my face. It was so great talking to you a few days ago and hearing your voice. Know that I will be calling again soon! All my love to you Nat.

Eddie (Paul-its really me Erin!)

Stephanie Beeler said...

love you nat. glad you made it back safely.. what a really beautiful story. made me smile... kam-pa-la! :)

Anonymous said...

I loved reading your post, especially about Mike. Seeing his excitement must have been awesome. I miss you, especially when I do my morning exercises! We are thankful for the time you were with us. It was such a wonderful visit. Love you bunches, Janece

Alex & Tonya said...

So glad you made it back safely nat. It was so good to see you. Have a great day!!

Anonymous said...

Natalie -- glad you made it back safely. It's great to catch up on all the activities through your blog. I did not realize you had posted pics from your visit to Austin. Your dad sure knows how to wear his waders! What a hoot! Hope you are settling back in to your other home.
Stay sweet. Be careful and have fun.
Love,
Aunt Jeanne

Missioner said...

Natalie, I was thrilled to read you were back in Uganda. What a great pleasure it was for me to play a small part in welcoming you to Midland! Blessings! Jeff