Reflections on Uganda & Kenya Mission Trip or
Journey of Reluctant African Traveler June 8-25, 2016
How does one respond to a call of the Lord to go into an area of the world you never even thought about visiting. After all it’s a continent half a world away. My friend Dale McPherson first approached me about joining his family, wife Alba, and four teenagers to go into Uganda and Kenya on a mission trip. He asked me to pray about it. After the initial shock and being sure I knew the answer, I said “OK, I’ll pray about it.” Well, what is the first thing you do when you are a life-long comfortable committed Christian? First, you question whether that’s really from the Lord…after all it’s something that is way out of my comfort zone, and I’m use to being comfortable. I have been grateful that I could support others going into difficult parts of the world, and thanked the Lord for not calling me to go. So, my prayer went something like this, “Lord, You don’t want me to go to Africa, do you? After all, I just turned 75 and there are much younger people who are more experienced and travel better than I do. You know I can’t sleep on a plane, and it’s a very long way to fly half-way around the world. What about all those shots I have to get to keep from getting all those diseases in Africa, like Malaria, Typhoid, Yellow Fever…Yikes!” But again, like any faithful follower of Christ, you say out of an obedient heart, “I’ll do what you want me to do, I just want it to be clear.” It took a while for clarity to come, but obviously the answer was “GO!” Really Lord? “Okay, but I don’t want to know anything about all the dangers that could be lurking when I get there. I don’t want anybody talking to me about scary things. I just want to pack my bags, get on the plane and deal with what I deal with when I get there, trusting that if You want me to go, You will protect and provide for my needs.”
A friend recommended I read Kisses From Katie, about a young 18 year old American girl who went on a mission trip to Uganda, had her heart changed, stayed and adopted 14 true orphans. Her journey was difficult and she faced many challenges in living in a new culture and extreme poverty areas. I began to be convicted that the Lord wasn’t calling me to move there, just go and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those He’s called us to minister with. At that point I became excited and even eager.
- Emotions: In the beginning there were many emotions. I was excited, enthusiastic, grateful and thrilled at the opportunity to go into an unknown territory at the Lord’s leading. Also, hopeful for bringing the light of Christ to the darkness of pain and poverty.
- Poverty: After arriving, then driving through miles of poverty, I began to feel overwhelmed and shocked at the lack of infrastructure. There were poor roads, shacks for homes, lack of necessities, an extreme low level of poverty, unemployment, and poor health resources. Disgusted and frustrated at the lack of government support for the people (i.e. high taxes, but no money put into infrastructure if their tribes didn’t support the president). The people were subject to government rules, but even voting was made difficult.
- Inadequate: I felt inadequate to make any kind of difference and felt vulnerable to disease and being close to high crime areas. Hopeless to have a long lasting impact, due to generational oppression, but trusting God’s provision. I was worried that I may not be able to communicate since I didn’t know the language and many didn’t speak English. Confused as to how to do what we were asked to do, especially praying for major life threatening health issues when they had little opporuntiy to get help.
- Welcome: Immediately I felt connected to the African people. We were welcomed, appreciated, and accepted in each encounter whether in cities or villages. We experienced an open and friendly reception at each village. We were greeted with song and reverence, even though they had been waiting in a hot sun for a long time for us to arrive.
- Respected and Valued: Many women and children were kneeling as we were greeted in the villages. We were also greeted with excitement and song. It was important to them that we took the time and effort to come to their remote villages, which is a rarity. They were trusting us for prayer and healing. The only way we could minister the way we did, was because we were covered in prayer and empowered by the Holy Spirit each challenging step of the way. I was totally out of my comfort zone and prayed for strength and provision of the Lord.
Trip details: Left Austin on June 8 in the afternoon to fly to London where we spent the night, leaving on the 11th to Nairobi through Rwanda and on to Entebee on the 11th. Met Jack, our driver, who took us to our hotel for few hours sleep before the long five hour drive to Masindi. We went to a grocery store for water and supplies and exchanged money. We met Pastor Raymond after getting settled in our cabins where I roomed with Meghan. I had a gecko in my bed, a yellow jacket nest on our door, and later found a big wasp that I killed with a protein bar.