It’s just five days until I get on a flight bound for Munich and then another for Cairo. And then after a few hours wandering around that airport, board a final flight and arrive in Entebbe, Uganda.
I have just so much to do before then. Not least, start thinking about packing. Although, as my long-time readers will remember, packing tends to send me into a dangerous mental state of despondency and hopelessness. So I’m putting it off as long as possible, and pretending that that will help. Denial is a wonderful thing, people.
I’ve told you already about the second half of our trip, when we travel down to Masaka in southern Uganda, and spend some days with River of Life, and (a highlight for me) get to meet the two children we sponsor through their street children ministry. This week River of Life announced the 100th baby treated through the new post-natal baby unit that they supported the local hospital to open. One hundred little lives. I may have cried when I saw the news. I’m honoured to get to be part of it.
But why are we going now? Why this trip now?
For that story, we go all the way back to January, when one cold day I got two tweets that practically jumped out of the screen at me:
The emotion-gut-driven part of me instantly cried YES!!! The more rational side told her to pipe down and did some thinking and then tweeted back and asked for more info. And then thought some more.
And then I said no, probably not.
Because January was the first month since the miscarriage last year that my body was feeling healthy again (I’m not going into detail here because my Dad reads my blog, but enough to say, a miscarriage can knock everything out of whack for a long while) and so we were looking forward to trying to get pregnant again. But to go to Uganda requires a yellow fever vaccination. And that would require us to stop getting pregnant for three months to avoid the live virus in the vaccine potentially damaging an unborn child.
On top of that, it costs a lot to go to Uganda. And we’d be swallowing up all of Rasmus’ remaining vacation days for the year. So we said no.
I spent the next week feeling completely gutted. I wanted to go. I wanted to go so so much. Uganda has been on my radar and in my prayers since I was fifteen years old. This invitation did not feel accidental.
It was a few days later that I met a friend for coffee. She’s at the beginning of the ordination process in the Anglican church and she’s wise and helpful. I told her the long story, and when I’d finished, she looked at me across our mugs and said, “I think you need to reconsider your answer”. And just like that, I knew I had to go.
That night we started talking seriously about what it would take to go. Rasmus is ever the rational planner, so I spent the next week pulling together a draft budget, itinerary, figuring out all the pros and cons on going or not going. We planned an evening to go through it all and I presented my proposal to him like I was at a board meeting (ok, not quite. We had a bottle of wine to help us get through…)
And when we’d finished talking it all through, we said Yes.
I haven’t felt more thrilled about a yes since the day we got married!
So what are we doing there? My wonderful friend Kelley, who I’ve met through the fantastic She Loves community, is married to Claude, a Burundian, and together they lead an organisation called Amahoro, which works to encourage, resource and connect emerging African leaders who are committed to the tangible manifestation of justice, mercy and goodness in their local context.
Once a year, Amahoro puts on a conference for African and non-African participants to share and learn together. This year, it’s in Entebbe, Uganda, and a group of women connected through She Loves, and twitter, and the amazing Idelette, will join them for the week. And I’m part of that sisterhood group! I’ll be meeting up with Kelley, Idelette, Claire, Tina, Leigh and others in Uganda to learn from and encourage our African brothers and sisters.
And if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the week, Kelley and Claude have invited us back to Burundi with them, to stay at their home, and visit Bubanza and Matara, the two communities they work in. Remember in February I joined the “She Loves Well” Valentine’s Day campaign to raise money for a well in Bubanza? We get to be there for the “opening ceremony”!!
You guys, my cup overflows.
I’m so excited to go. So excited to spend time with my sister-friends in person. So excited to meet so many new inspiring people. So excited to expand my stories of Africa. So excited to learn and listen. So excited to drink clean water with Bubanza residents and dance in celebration together. So excited that I get to be part of this.
We’ll be blogging as we go and I am so eager to share with you my experiences. I pray that my words may somehow do it justice, although I’m not sure that’s possible. I pray that I can be part of expanding those stories we have of Uganda and Burundi. I pray that my words here will honour the people I meet and the places I visit. It’s not always easy to step out of your own comfort zone, your own perspectives, and see what’s before you, learn what it has to teach you. But I’m going with an open heart and I want to see, I want to learn.
If you pray, will you pray for us? Pray for Rasmus and I (he joins me at the end of the conference to travel to Burundi together, and then back to Masaka). Pray for the conversations we’ll have, the people we’ll meet and the relationships we’ll form. Pray for open hearts and minds. Pray for health and safe travel.
And most of all, pray we’ll come home changed by what we encountered.