I find myself sitting poolside at a quaint 12 room chateau hotel, Le Petite, in the heart of Kampala City, Uganda, trying to wrap my mind around coming home to America at Christmastime. Here, the air is warm, the breeze ruffling the palm trees and the ever present smell of cook fires lingering in the air, the echo of the Muslim call to prayers on the distant wind. Kind of reads like a paperback novel huh? Sometimes I feel that my life is such as this. It is very rare that I reveal my emotions as I send my updates home, well, at least some of the more negative emotions. But, as my spiritual mom says, “Sometimes it is good for people to know how hard it sometimes is to do what we do”, and so I do.
I have to admit that as I sit here I find myself feeling a bit cynical, which I am sure is a fleeting thing that will pass. It is probably the hardest part of humanitarian/missionary work to remain with ones heart intact and not become cynical about the things for which we are called to. I arrived here and was greeted with the Sunday paper at my bedroom door, only to find every headline bemoaning the woes of political corruption, reminding me that I have to fight it at every single turn. In Africa, unfortunately, it affects every part of our lives. It takes all of my mental energy to fight against the feelings of despondency and hopelessness when trying to lift the very lives that this corruption affects the most, the poor, the widow and the orphan.
I have been in a battle over my mind these last few days pertaining to my mission and what the point of it is. What difference will I really make for all my efforts here when these young lives will only have to face the same corruption I see every single day? Will anything I do really matter in the long run? I then remind myself of the lives who have been touched by what we do, by the ones who have received that hand up and have gone on to have a much better life than what was before. I think of all the mothers and fathers who never gave up on their drug addicted children, of all the teachers in public schools who see situations every day that they have no power to change.
So many times the battle comes down to one life laid down, full of love, and one life changed who received this love and that is what has to keep us coming back. I am reminded of all the “ones” who have been world changers and who have gone on to find their destiny and this encourages me to continue in the trenches. It has to. Jesus was a world changer, and still is. He is but one who never quits on us, even though He sees how messed up this world really is. He knows that it only takes one to make a difference, the love of one.
Of course I know that it is always the devil knocking at my door, trying to dissuade me from carrying on and coming back to the front lines once again. I think it is also re-entry fatigue, when we let our minds and bodies relax, allowing ourselves to feel the emotions that lie just beneath the surface at any given time, that we have managed to hold in check all year until we have time and energy to think. While in country, on the mission field, we usually don’t allow ourselves to feel or think about too much, otherwise we would be ineffective in what God has called us to, and what would be the point. I liken it to a space shuttle re-entering the atmosphere, where it burns in at full throttle, not slowing a bit for fear of burning up. Once on this side of the earth’s atmosphere, it can then again go into a cruise mode.
And that, my friends, is why I decided to spend my first three days back in “the world” here in Uganda, so that I can get my mind and body and heart back into the cruise mode before I come home to those who have been waiting to hug my cheery neck, leaving this heavy load on the edges of my periphery before I hit the re-entry zone of America. It did my heart good today to see the American flag flying proudly at the American Embassy, which is just across the street from where I am staying. I felt a burst of pride for my country, which is still the most powerful, most beloved, and most desired country on the face of the earth. Everywhere I have traveled, not a single person wants to travel anywhere except America. We truly represent the land of all possibility and all promise to the rest of the entire world, I kid you not. We truly are blessed of God and have everything to be thankful for. I have seen the ravages of these countries that have nothing.
I left South Sudan on Saturday, hugging the mamas and children goodbye. I was totally undone when I picked Peacey up and hugged her, I lost it and the tears fell. It has been such a hard few months for this little one, what with her mama being so sick. Peacey came to us as a newborn as her mother died giving birth to her. The mama who works for us who took Peacey as her own is the one who has been so severely sick these last three months. Peacey is only two and cannot understand the times that her mama had to go away and be in the hospital. Peacey had me to comfort her during that time but in the process has become so attached to me that she goes into fits when I go away. It is like leaving my own child behind. This is a huge risk of the heart that some missionaries dare to take, that of loving fully those whom we have come to love.