Here in Colorado my kids are strung out all over my bedroom, breathing deeply and dreaming of warmer weather and sunny days in a country we all miss daily.
We all wanted to go back this time. We all wanted to walk barefoot again, to eat beans and rice and have an unending string of visitors.
We miss it.
All of it.
Really, we do.
Maybe you think I've forgotten what it was really like. I haven't. I have pictures of every baby that died, even severe wounds that I treated. I reread my own blogs, living those stories again and again because I miss it so much.
I haven't forgotten.
I remember preparing myself to come back here, knowing that I was leaving behind a beautiful life, one that was chock full of all that life should be chock full of: adventure, joy, pain, exhaustion, love, sorrow, community...
It was so beautiful.
The hard never really goes away over there.
You lock your gate at night and collapse after a full day of village visits and wound care, and your phone rings. It's an emergency. A woman's labor has stopped. She will lose the baby if she can't get to Kotido for a cesarian. And so you pull yourself back up, hastily swallow some dinner and head back out, this time as ambulance driver.
Another day brings another baby, thin and sickly, no mother and no one who really cares. You head back to Kotido again, baby in tow, to find milk and medicine, and move the baby and auntie in to teach her how to care. Only she doesn't, not really. And the baby dies.
You climb into bed at night and try to sleep, but the mosquitoes are so loud and the air is so still and hot. Every inch of your body is sweating, but getting up is unthinkable. The roaches and spiders are out in force, and the resident shrew is rustling in the next room. Your husband reaches for you but you are sticky and hot and there is nothing romantic about our “canopy bed”. Besides, you have no energy left. You've given and given and given some more. You are just so tired.
But the next day...women come with babies who were once thin and chat as their now healthy little ones crawl on our dirt floor. A grandmother-turned-mother-again laughs at the antics of her granddaughter and offers her a bottle, a clean bottle, of milk. Florence begins to read the Bible and women begin to listen. Babies are nursed, rocked or walked, and God is there, present, moving. This is the beautiful. Because it's only when we walk with them in the hard that we get to experience the real beauty, His beauty, there, with us.
I miss the hard because He is there. He is there in the hard, and He turns it all into beauty. He makes beautiful things out of us, all of us. Broken, hurting, hard and sinful people that we are, He makes us beautiful.
It's been a rough year for them. More sick babies and people than normal, more needs, more hunger, more exaustion, and more transition. I wish I could be there to help them, I really do. But we know our place is here now, God has called us out, and their stories are no longer our stories.
Instead, we have decided to support them in the best way we know how. Kenneth and three other good friends from our area of Colorado have gone back to Uganda to lead a retreat time for our team there. They will spend three days sharing and encouraging each other in the work God has called each of us to. We pray it will be a time of rest and rejuvenation for our Karamoja team and that they will come away from it greatly encouraged and uplifted. We want them to feel the prayers of their team in the US and our commitment to continue supporting them in any way possible.
Of course, we don't want the cost of this retreat to be on them! We want to bless them in every way possible, including financially, by covering the cost of their travel, hotel stay, and food, and we need your help! If you are a person who prays for our Karamoja team, already supports one of them financially or just wants to help this one time, please think about giving to help cover this retreat. We have about $2,300 left to raise of our $3,000 goal. Please join us in blessing them!
If you are willing, please make checks payable to "Advance Him" and write "Uganda trip" in the memo line. Checks can be sent to:
P.O. Box 151
New Castle, CO 81647
or dropped off at the River Center if you are local.
I haven't forgotten those hard places, and I know that many of you prayed for us and supported us as we walked through them. Thank you for that. Thank you for your commitment to us as we served in Uganda.
It was a beautiful, beautiful journey.