I love adventure and new, and those two things are definitely part of life in Uganda! As fun as new is, though, it can also be stressful sometimes. A few weeks before leaving the States I was feeling pretty stressed because I still wasn’t sure where I was going to stay in Kampala, or how I was going to get to Soroti or what life would look like when I got there. God reminded me through a godly friend to give all that to Him and just trust Him, and He has continued to show His ability to handle the details and uncertainty each step of the way. The trip to Soroti was one of those times. =)
Before I left Kampala someone from church graciously offered to drive me to Soroti if I would pay for gas. Gas is expensive here, though, so the trip would have cost around $100. That kind of money goes a long way in Uganda, so I asked about other options. Taking a bus with all my luggage (which included a mattress, gas cooker and tiny fridge-because those things are much cheaper to buy in Kampala and aren’t included when you rent here) cost about 50,000 shillings which is roughly $14 US dollars.
Although most people suggested I take the car since luggage is sometimes stolen on the bus, I didn’t have a peace about doing that, and really felt a definite sense of peace about taking the bus. So, I left the luggage in God’s hands and boarded the bus early Wednesday morning with a plan to take it to a small village called Bukedea about an hour from Soroti. Esther’s mom, sister and grandmother were in the village, so I originally thought I would stop by for an hour or two to say hi, and then they would drive me the rest of the way to Soroti.
Esther’s mom was waiting for me at the bus stop in Bukedea, and thankfully none of my luggage had been stolen. She took me to a guest house owned by the family and gave me tea and a Ugandan meal, then asked if I could stay the night so I could meet Esther’s grandmother. I really want to learn everything I can about the people and the way of life here, plus I love adventure, so I said, “Yes”.
On the drive up, I had been intrigued to see many round brick buildings that appeared to be covered in mud with thatched roofs. Often there were several all clustered together in a circle sometimes with a rectangular house nearby. As we headed to their village home, I saw more and more of the thatched huts up close and began asking about them. Those were the villager’s homes. Each group of huts typically represents a family clan as the families all tend to live near each other. I could see some of them outside cooking over an open fire. Out in the fields people were farming by hand or occasionally walking by leading cattle harnessed with handmade yokes for plowing. It felt like I had stepped back in time.
When we arrived, I was excited to see I got to sleep in one of the round homes. This one had electric lights and a tin roof, so it was much more modern than most of the ones I had seen. Outside they were drying cassava, and there was a pile of cassava sticks under a tree for planting after the rain came. In the evening we walked down the red dirt road and I got to meet Esther’s grandmother and a few other villagers. The next day Esther’s mom asked if I could stay one more night, so I did. They were so gracious and wonderful to me, and then they drove me to Soroti on Friday. I am very interested in the villages and would love to eventually work in one if God leads in that direction, so just that small, adventurous little trip somehow blessed and encouraged me in a big way.
Since arriving in Soroti I have been staying with a very godly family whom Esther connected me with. The dad was the head of the Baptist association for this area before he retired, and partially through his work over 200 churches have been planted. He has connections with Compassion International as well as an orphanage and Baptist hospital-all of which he said I could visit and volunteer at. His daughter Suzy and her brother have been amazing as well and have spent a lot of time showing me around Soroti and helping me find a place to live.
Today I got to attend Calvary Chapel, and tomorrow morning I will visit the clinic. Although I still am not sure what life will look like here, God keeps showing me He is faithful. He knows my inadequacies and awkwardness and everything else that seems to disqualify me, but I believe He led me here. I’ve been re-reading A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God, and love the picture he paints of faith. He describes it as the gaze of the soul on God. That is how I want to be. To commune with God and inwardly lift up trusting eyes to Him each time I feel overwhelmed by inadequacy or doubt or fear. Sometimes, I feel most inadequate in my walk with God or in my lack of concern for the souls around me, but He is teaching me to come to Him even with that inadequacy and to look to Him to draw me deeper.