Driving to Arua
There were 8 of us on the bus, most of us armed with cameras of some sort, but our driver had just warned us that we were crossing the Nile at a location in which we could not take pictures because the Ugandan government did not want pictures taken of the bridge that goes over the Nile (this is common in many other countries--no pictures of hospitals, schools, bridges, government buildings, etc. that could compromise national security). Talk about my heart breaking! Just as we got close to said location--close enough to hear the crashing and roaring of the falls--we saw several adorable little monkeys in the road. We were squealing with delight (well, us women were), but no photographs were allowed. We drove on, rolled slowly over the Nile River, took in as much as we could to commit it to memory, and then took off.
It wasn't but a few minutes later that our driver slowed once again to point out the many baboons that were in the road and ditch. BABOONS!! We all gasped/squealed/murmured with delight...and then our driver said that we were far enough past the bridge that we COULD take pictures! Cameras were snapping away...all while Natalie was warning us to keep the windows closed because baboons are aggressive enough to reach in and snatch things away from you!
A couple of hours later, we were truckin' down a highway when our driver slammed on the brakes and then started to back up. This time, there was a heard of Cobb (Natalie calls them near-deer) and a lone warthog at a watering hole. Hello African Safari Adventure! Once again, cameras are snapping away and we're all exclaiming how amazing this drive is, and laughing about how blessed we are. As we pull away from that location, I say aloud, "Now if only we could see elephants!"
Snapshot of Tuesday:
-Early breakfast/packing/loading up our luggage onto the bus
-Road trip from Kampala to Arua
-Seeing God's wildlife creations while road tripping
-Dinner with a missionary family in Arua
-Going to bed EARLY
I'll start with this picture. I made little "Where in the world is Mrs. Ginter?" maps for each of my students before I left so they could see where I was in East Africa each day. You can see on the map that we drove almost the entire length of Uganda that Tuesday, from Kampala (pink dot) to Arua (green dot)...
I got up early so I could spend some quiet time with the Lord and journal a bit before we left the guesthouse in Kampala...
In 2010, I took a shot of Buay from the Hendersons' porch that looked something like this. I decided to replicate that pose...
Our room at the guest house...
Signs in Kampala are some of the funniest things to see. This one was awesome!
Soooo, we were sitting in traffic not moving when a street vendor walking up alongside our bus and started trying to sell sunglasses. I already had a pair, but I started looking at what he was holding, and then I selected a pair and began the negotiation.
Vendor: I give you good price. 40,000.
Me: No, ssebo, that's too much. I pay you 10,000.
Vendor: I cannot do. 40,000.
Me: Ssebo, I will give you 20,000 and I take.
I totally overpaid for these cheap "Prada" glasses, but later in the trip I was SO glad that I did!
Crazy traffic and life playing out in Kampala...
And the near-deer...
So, we had just pulled away from the warthog and I said, "Now if only we could see elephants!" Literally only minutes later, our driver once again slammed on the brakes and threw the bus into reverse. We had no idea what it was for until he pointed at these ELEPHANTS coming out of the bush!!!! I nearly had a heart attack I was so excited!! They just kept coming and coming until we could see an entire HERD OF ELEPHANTS!!
We all gave many thanks and praise to God for creating such amazing, beautiful, majestic creatures AND for allowing us the great privilege of seeing them. People pay hundreds of dollars on safaris to see what we got to see for free on our road trip to Arua. Kuoth gua e long!
As our road trip progressed, the scenery changed drastically from the lush, tropical landscape of Kampala to the more arid, sparse landscape of Northern Uganda. We started seeing mud huts instead of brick homes, and it began to feel much more rural.
After about 8 hours of travel that included the wildlife, thinking we were going to die several times as we passed semis that seemed to be only inches from our bus, a couple of bathroom breaks, and naps here and there, we arrived in Arua. We quickly unloaded our luggage into our guest rooms and then walked to a missionary family's house for dinner.
They were so gracious in hosting us and allowing us to use their wifi! But the best part--even better than the delicious lasagna and amazingly gooey brownies--was getting to talk with Doug about what it means to do missions. We talked about language learning, evangelizing, mistakes that many missionaries make, expectations, realities of living with solar power and few conveniences, etc. It was a conversation that both blessed and challenged me, and I cannot say enough how much I appreciate his honesty. We will make mistakes and we will be disappointed if we go into Nasir with unrealistic expectations, but I feel like so much of Doug's advice was meant to prevent that from happening (and I did take notes as we talked).
Highs of Tuesday:
-Our conversation with Doug about ministry and life on the mission field--how great it is that we are able to come together and share wisdom and experience!
Lows of Tuesday:
-The spiritual attacks had intensified, and I was already beginning to feel the need to withdraw from our team. I didn't feel like anyone understood (in hindsight, that's because I didn't share my struggles with anyone) and I was feeling like I'd made a huge mistake in becoming a missionary. I kept hearing, "You're not good enough. You're a fraud. You think you can do this? You're going to screw it up so badly that you'll shame and embarrass everyone involved. This team doesn't want you." I was full of fear and dread, as well as a deep longing for home that I've never felt before when in Africa. I kept trying to reach out to God, but the dark blanket that had enveloped me was so thick I could barely even choke out a prayer. I did tell Blaise, and he began to war in prayer for me. Again, hindsight is 20/20...I so wish I had called the team together for prayer, but Satan was busy isolating me and I was busy allowing it.