Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Oh Africa

I’m writing this as I am flying over the Atlantic Ocean, just about four hours from touching down in USA. I am filled with many emotions, most of which I am unable to put into words at this time, although I’m praying that my God will give me the words when I’m at a loss.

I know the first thing you will all want to know is “How was your trip?”. If you ask me this, know that I am working on a short answer but have not come up with it yet. So far this answer would sound like “My trip was amazing, it was Awesome, I was in the presence of the Holy Spirit, I saw evil face to face, it was devastating, horrific, marvelous, and life changing”.

I’ve tried to narrow it down into four collective categories that were most impressed upon me. The first category includes being in Africa itself. Seeing the sights: The spectacular view of Lake Victoria from our guest house. Traveling by wooden fishing boats across the lake day after day. Much to the amusement of one of my teammates my common recitation was “Hey, I’m sailing on Lake Victoria. Can you believe that I’m on Lake Victoria!” We had fun exchanging this fun but awestruck banter.

The people of Uganda were so beautiful for the most part. They were kind and hospitable and very appreciative of our presence. We also made big spectacles of ourselves and people, mostly children, waved and called out to us “mzungu! Mzungu!”, which translates as “white person! White person!” They smiled and waved and wanted us to touch and hug them. A local mother told us that when we paid attention to her children, that we made them feel special. While we thought it was cute and it made us smile from ear to ear, the deeper heart-felt feeling for me was sadness. I could not hug them all and tell them how special they each were; there were just not enough hours in the day.

The roads were dusty and dirty and a good majority of the people didn’t wear shoes. The average person in Uganda exists on a little over a dollar per day, all inclusive. We walked down dirt roads that seemed little more than paths to us, where most homes were shacks made of tin or home-made bricks. Cows grazing in front of homes was a prevalent sight, as well as crossing the roads with chickens and goats, right in the middle of town. It was hard not to be shocked that people existed this way in such a depraved community. More shocking still was the JOY that radiated from the people. Joy in a world that we would consider helpless and devoid of any happy emotions. I cannot describe the joyful “vibes” from the people as they lived their lives in the midst of their most uncertain circumstances. I learned a lot from watching them.

One of my favorite things about Africa was the music. Throughout the villages and the mundane tasks of life, I usually heard the beating of drums and voices lifted in melodic harmonies. Coupled with the enchanting sounds of the African birds, the drums and melodies were heaven to the ears. It never ceased to amaze me to see, hear, smell, and touch all of these things and people.

The one thing I can assuredly say about Africa is that I fell in love with it and cannot wait to return.

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