After ten days in Uganda, I have now been home for six days. What an amazing trip! My three travel companions and I all agreed that God’s handprints were all over this trip. He intervened and superintended too many times to count, both during the planning and preparations, and throughout the trip as well.
Surprisingly, I found it much easier adjusting to being in Uganda than adjusting to being back home! I came to love the people there so much it was hard to leave. John was ready for me to be home, however. He did a great job of keeping everything under control at home while I was gone.
Many have already asked when I planned to start blogging about the trip. Well, today is the day. I have decided to simply start with day one and follow up with an entry for each day. You will basically see my travel journal with photos inserted. Are you ready to board the plane?
20 June, 2009
John drove me to Chicago today. It was a pleasant trip and I enjoyed his company. When we reached O’Hare, he helped me unload my bags at the curb, and after a long embrace, he left. I must say I felt very alone at that moment, but soon I was checking bags and then heading for the gate. This is the day I have been awaiting for many months.
Now, at thirty seven thousand feet above the earth, I look out and wonder what the line is called between the clouds and the space above them where we glide along. Surely there is a name for it, unless it is still considered a horizon line at this altitude. Mental note to self: Look it up!
The sky around me is turning beautiful shades of pink and purple. Isaiah 66:1 says, “...Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool...” I must at least be above ankle level, don’t you think?
I just reread Psalm 36. A couple of weeks ago, on a particularly harrowing day of preparations, I asked God what He wanted me to hear, and He directed me to Psalm 36:5-12. As if to confirm that this was indeed a message from Him, Third Day was singing their rendition of it when I got in my car to leave that day! These words that God gave me for this trip take on new meaning here. I will quote Third Day’s paraphrase:
Your love, oh Lord
Reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean's tide
I will lift my voice
To worship You, my King
I will find my strength
In the shadow of your wing
Just as I am seated behind the wing of this airplane, with the wing constantly in view, so it is with my Father God. My eyes are trained on Him, the One who has raised me up, and on whose strength I rely. I can no more see where He’s taking me than I can see beyond the clouds below or the pink-purple line that separates them from the heavens above. But here behind the wing, in the deepening shadows, I feel secure and awed by the power that is so far beyond anything of which I can boast. Still, I am being propelled onward and upward.
I met Jeanice at the gate in Chicago, but we were seated two rows apart on the plane to Detroit. I briefly met Jan and Denise at O’Hare before boarding this plane headed to Amsterdam. We are now scattered throughout this monstrous bird. At first I was disappointed that we weren't seated together, but I’ve enjoyed the solace, too. I have also had the opportunity to get acquainted with my seat-mate, Frankie, a fellow Iowan who is on her way to Macedonia to work for Habitat for Humanity. She is going through a divorce and a lot of soul-searching. I promised to pray for her, and she told me that she believes there is a purpose in everything, including our being seated together!
The fact that Jan, Jeanice, Denise and I are scattered no doubt has other purposes, too. It has occurred to me that although we are unified in this mission that is really God’s mission, we are no doubt each on our own personal journeys as well. I hope to get better acquainted with each of them and learn more about their journeys, and how far they have come to arrive at this place.
The last few days have been emotional ones for me. I am mostly filled with anticipation and excitement, but I also feel so humbled by all the support, both emotional and tangible, of friends and family. My bulging bags are a further testimony to that fact. I am honored to be in a position of serving the Lord among the Ugandan people, but I also feel inadequate. I know the physical needs I witness will be impossible to meet. Even with our bulging bags, we can offer little to alleviate their hardships. I pray that God will fill me up as full as those bags, so that His river of life will flow out of me and surround, refresh, and satisfy those He has sent me to meet. (John 7:38) It is becoming increasingly clear how little I can offer on my own –nothing, really, since everything I have is His, and is only lent to me for His honor and glory.
My personal journey with God has brought me to this journey that will surely change me in ways I need to be changed, and mold and shape me for whatever lies ahead. For now, I will continue to rest in the shadow of His wing, knowing that I can’t escape His love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, or His justice.