We all remember where we were when we first heard about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. I’m pretty sure every moment of that entire day is burned into my memory like it is for most Americans.
Terrorist attacks aren’t common in the United States, but we do know what it’s like to live through one. We know the fear, the terror, and the aftermath of such a vicious and heartless crime. And we never want to experience it again.
We didn’t see September 11 coming. There wasn’t any fear or anxiety leading up to the attack. It just happened, and we reacted. Now, I’m living in a country on the other side of the world and I’m basically being told to stay home until further notice.
I am in Uganda, where police have raised the terror threat to red- the highest it can go. The US Embassy has sent out multiple emails warning people of a possible attack. Some say it’s imminent.
A few of my European friends here in Kampala think Americans are a little too paranoid about the terrorist threats. But if they had terrorists crash planes and blow up buildings in their home country, I imagine they’d be a little paranoid as well. They haven’t lived through a September 11 like we have. Our fears are legit, and they bring up emotions we’ve tried to bury since 2001.
Yesterday I talked to a friend who was going to run to the store with her family. Her husband ended up not letting her and their child go with him. It was a risk he didn’t want to take. My friend asked me, “Since when did a trip to the store require thinking about whether or not you’ll come back alive?”
Another friend of mine told me today that they were debating on whether or not they should go to church tomorrow, because theirs is the largest in Kampala. Her husband works there, so he has to go, but they weren’t sure about the rest of the family. “Then we thought maybe we should all go, and if something happens, we’ll die as a family,” she told me.
These are the conversations that have become normal here.
The sad reality is that some people live in countries where this is all they know- a consistent fear of terrorists. They live each day wondering whether or not it’s safe to go to the store or go to church. We are getting but a small taste of their lives.
There isn’t anything we can do to divert an attack. Right now we pray for peace and to shed the fear that comes along with all this. I believe that God’s will is what’s best, and if something were to happen to me, know that it doesn’t reflect on anything God did. His reasons are bigger and better than what we can imagine. So if He allows something to happen to me, there’s more to the story than we know. And I’m fine with that.
The best case scenario is that the governments, both Ugandan and American, are paranoid. Hopefully their information is wrong, and no one gets hurt in the coming days, weeks, or months. In the meantime, I refuse to hide in my closet and cry in terror, but I’m also not going to take it so lightly that I make poor decisions regarding my safety.
As Americans, we may know terror on a scale that some people from other places don’t. And then there are also people who know it on a much larger scale than we do. Either way, we all need your prayers right now in Kampala. I have grown to love the smiling faces here and would be devastated to see anyone get hurt.
“And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28