Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Days 11 and 12: The Journey Home

Days 11 and 12: The Journey Home

30 June, 2009

After awaking in the middle of my flight from Entebbe to Amsterdam, I visited with Robert, my seat mate. He is Ugandan, born and raised in Jinja, which is a town we traveled through between Tororo and Kampala, and is currently a student at the University of Utah, majoring in health education and economic development. As part of his schooling he was assigned to go to Ghana, but stopped to visit family in Uganda on his way home. He loves his country, and hopes to return to help in establishing an infrastructure. Although he enjoys many aspects of living in America, he is truly grateful for his African upbringing. I can definitely understand that. There is something wholesome, transparent, and down to earth about Ugandan. There is also an unquenchable spirit –one of extreme gratitude, unbridled joy, and hope. Robert wanted to know about all the things our group experienced during our visit, and he thanked me sincerely for “doing all that you did for our children.”

We didn’t have long to wait between flights in Amsterdam, but the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit seemed oh, so long! I was seated across the aisle from Jan, who slept much of the flight. As we were nearing Detroit she began visiting with her seat mate, who was a soldier returning on leave from Afghanistan. Jan was sharing with him about Heart of God’s soldier’s ministry, and she pulled out a business card to give to him. I could see that the man in the seat directly behind her was literally sitting on the edge of his seat, straining to see and hear what she was saying. As soon as she finished talking, he called, “Miss Jan, Miss Jan.” Finally Jan realized he was talking to her, and turned around. He introduced himself as a brigade commander with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, on his way home to bury his father. “I have 12,000 troops and 14 chaplains under me,” he said. “Do you have any materials for them? How about Bible study materials for women?”

Needless to say, Jan was quite excited to share information about the soldiers ministry with him! He promised to contact her later in the week to arrange for some materials for his troops.

When we reached Detroit, everything went into high gear. We had to go through immigration, pick up our checked luggage, and go through customs, then re-check our luggage and find the gate for our next flight. Jeanice and I only had about 40 minutes between flights, so needless to say, we were hustling.

Just as I finished with customs I had a major surprise; I saw Frankie, my seatmate from Iowa, the one I had met on the way to Uganda on Day 1! We had both returned on the very same flight. We embraced, exchanged bits and pieces of our respective experiences, and I assured her I had prayed for her daily and would continue to keep her in my prayers. Now I am even more certain that God crossed our paths for a purpose. I believe that she feels the same. As I left customs for my gate I also ran into Robert, my seat mate from yesterday’s flight, and we wished each other well.

Jeanice, and I bid farewell to Jan and Denise, who each went their separate ways. We then continued on to Chicago together. This was a short flight., but I looked forward to it ending. My stomach felt upset for the first time since leaving Iowa eleven days ago.

John and I had reserved a hotel room in Chicago –one with free shuttle service from the airport, with the plan that I could go there to shower and sleep, and he would join me after working half a day and then driving to Chicago. It worked out beautifully, because I was more than ready for a break from traveling and for real sleep in an actual bed. I was sleeping soundly when he arrived several hours later.

We found a nice little Italian restaurant nearby, and during dinner I began to fill him in on my many adventures.

Since he had the entire next day off, we decided to take a longer way home, opting to stop at East Iowa Bible Camp to visit with the camp’s director -our son, Tyson, and his wife, Sarah. It was great visiting with them, and they were even able to get away with us to eat at The Malt Shop. My stomach was still having issues, but I enjoyed spending time with them, nevertheless.

Later, arriving at home, I was happy to be there and thankful for my husband’s presence and time spent with family, but I was also keenly aware that many pieces of my heart remained strewn across a small country in a continent 8,000 miles away. I also knew that my life had been permanently altered –a good thing, to be sure, but life could never return to “normal.” God had revealed Himself to me in so many ways, and through so many of His beautiful people. Although my journey to Uganda officially came to an end today, I felt that a much greater journey had only just begun.


  1. It's wonderful to come home and yet I understand how your heart is still far away. I feel like all missionaries share the same joys and burdens. I know your prayers will continue to connect you with those you came to love. Welcome home.

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  3. Praying for your heart to stay as it is, Sharlyn, and for you to be able to spread that same feeling to others. May your trip bear fruit over and over in many, many lives.

  4. Sharlyn,

    Just reading this post made me realize how much God loves you. He created so many opportunities for you to be encouraged not only on the way home but to encourage others on your travels.

    God will continue this work in you long after you return home and we look forward to continue hearing about your ministry and how we can all help become involved.

    By the way, I mailed your package out yesterday so you should have it by Saturday. They said 2-3 days.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  5. I have been blessed by reading of your experiences. Keep sharing your heart as you have been doing, and you will touch more lives than you can imagine!

    God bless you,


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