“How was Uganda?” I’m running out of adjectives…

Almost three weeks ago I stepped foot on American soil for the first time in nearly a year. My mom and dad were waiting for me in true American style with red, white, and blue flowers, and they were wearing “USA” T-shirts. My experience in Uganda was over, and I was home.10334337_10202468687703087_3077441966965500961_n

I remember coming back from my first big mission trip to Africa. I spent two weeks in Niger. It was difficult, when I returned, finding the words to describe what that trip was like. Being in a radical Muslim country and sharing the Gospel was something I’ll never forget, but explaining that, explaining what it was like… it was difficult.

A few years later I went on a week-long trip to Nicaragua where we built latrines and did Bible school with children in the village. I also got to meet my sponsor child. I came home from that trip with even fewer words to describe what I had experienced.

In 2013 I made my way back to Africa for almost two weeks. We spent the majority of our time at Lifesong for Orphans Zambia. Those children, those faces, and their voices will forever be engraved on my heart. Still, when I came back to the US, I wasn’t sure how to put those experiences into words. I even wrote a blog post about it then.

Now, after living in Uganda for almost a year, I’m asked the same basic question, but with a different location.

“How was Uganda?”

Amazing. Intense. Outstanding. Life-changing. Difficult. Spiritual. Aggravating. Incredible. Terrifying. Awesome. Fabulous. Insane. Wonderful.

I’m running out of adjectives.

Before I came home I had this fear that no one would want to know details about my time in Uganda, and there are still plenty of people who don’t care, but it’s kind of ironic that so many people have asked about it, and I have literally nothing to say but a few flowery adjectives.

I had difficulties summarizing a week or two across the globe, how in the world do I summarize an entire year?

My dad asked me the other day why I hadn’t blogged since I’ve been home. My honest answer was, “Because I don’t know what to say.”

And I still don’t know.

I’m not sure I’ll ever know.

IMG_0137Maybe it’s because I know most people will never understand. Maybe it’s because there’s just too much to tell. Maybe it’s because I can’t think about saying goodbye to Florence, our dayguard’s daughter, without bursting into tears. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting if I say, “God sent me there for my students, and a few of them even flat out told me that God sent me there to help them.”

My emotions are so mixed right now. I was told to take plenty of time to reflect on my time in Uganda, take time to rest and recuperate. I was told to take at least a month to really let things sink in and to process all I had experienced. However, since I’m unemployed, I couldn’t turn down a summer job at my old place of employment. I started a week after I got back. So much for relaxing and reflecting. So much for processing. A part of me feels like I’ve been forced to put processing my entire experience on the back burner, kind of like, “I’ll get to it later.”

What I do know right now is that I’m running out of adjectives to use to describe my time in Uganda. There’s just so much to say that I really don’t know where to start. So forgive me if you run into me and ask, “How was Uganda?” and my response is just a few descriptive words and I leave it at that.

I am so thankful for the support of my family and friends, whether it was financially, prayerfully or both. I am beyond blessed to know so many people who have taken an interest in what God is doing in Uganda. I pray that if you have any specific questions, even if they sound silly, that you will ask me! I am more than happy to share about any and every experience I had in Uganda. It’s just a little difficult to wrap it all up in one response to the question, “How was Uganda?”

From there to here. Not as easy as it looks…

IMG_20130801_093930I never once led people to believe I was moving to Africa to live in a hut and feed the poor. Anyone who had those ideas completely came up with them on their own.

My home here in Uganda is gorgeous. The school grounds are amazing. We have electricity (most days). I can Facebook and email on a daily basis.

The physical similarities end there.

I worked in my classroom all day without electricity. I was greeted by two lizards in my classroom- one behind a bookshelf and the other under my desk. I put up torn and faded posters around my room since I didn’t pack any, nor can I run to the store to buy any. Today I realized about a hundred things I still needed for my classroom and just had to accept the fact that I won’t be getting them until I’m back in the US next summer.

Transition. This morning at New Teacher Orientation we talked about transition. Anyone who thinks that because I have a nice house and a big classroom means I don’t have a transition to make is seriously misguided.

This is Africa. It might not be the Africa you pictured, but it is Africa. I don’t have a television. I don’t have unlimited internet. I don’t have texting. I cannot drink the water from the faucet. I have to take public transportation (a sweaty, crowded minivan or a boda) whenever I want to go somewhere not in my own neighborhood.

Transition. To say I’ve got a transition to go through is an understatement. This morning a teacher was telling us about holding his crying children the night before who just want to be back in America. Another teacher has left her husband in America until he can get his immigration papers cleared. Some of my co-workers are teaching for the very first time. Others, like me, have a huge adjustment to make going from a public school system to an international school.

But there are others going through transition as well… our students.

Heritage International School was originally just for missionary kids. It’s since opened up to locals. We have more than 25 nationalities represented in our student body. Let’s face it- not all of these kids are thrilled at the fact that their parents have moved them to Africa.

People seem to have this misconception that doing mission work overseas means only helping the poor. While I plan on taking trips to villages to do just that, the majority of my time will be working with teenagers. American teenagers, English teenagers, Ugandan teenagers, etc. etc. Do they need Christ any less because they are not poor and living in huts? Also, don’t they need someone to teach them while their parents ARE out in the villages helping the poor? IMG_20130806_120151_new

There are also a number of my students that are NOT Christian. The school, being openly Christian, gives us the opportunity to witness to kids who don’t know the Lord!

Transition. We’ve all got a transition to make. The teachers. The students. The parents. Me.

If you think this has been a walk in the park so far, it hasn’t been. I’m as happy as ever, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tough. I’ve got a lot to learn and certainly a lot to adjust to.

As you pray for me, please also pray for my fellow teachers and my students, whom I will meet next Friday. Also pray for teachers and students back in the United States. Starting a new school year is a time of transition for everyone, but with God by our side, we know we can face it and be successful.

“And he said unto them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15