As I try to recap these last couple weeks for you, I am lost for words to describe the experiences I have had. These last couple weeks really have been the most amazing opportunities I have been given so far in this experience. I have learned so much about God’s love and his presence in the world.
So as I told you before a couple weeks ago, I began my journey to Soroti, Uganda, which tragically was one of the hardest hit places during the recent floods. People lost their homes, crops, and their income from farming. Their crops were washed away or just became rotten due to the large amounts of water filling the land. On Saturday we were transported to our rural host families across the entire district of Soroti. I was paired with one of the other male students Bryce for this home stay. We were the first group to leave with Erica. After traveling for what seemed like a long while amongst 10 feet tall grass, and no roads, only footpaths, we came up to a compound of 4 huts which was the home for Erica. Upon seeing this home first I really couldn’t prepare myself for the home I would be staying in. After getting all of our hopes up about living in a hut, we came up to our home, which if I’m being honest was much nicer than the home I stayed in during my first home stay in Mukono. My family had two houses, one for them, and then an entire second one for Bryce and I. They owned two vehicles, and also had their own water pump in their backyard.. So instead of walking miles to the closest water source we just pumped water for hours in the backyard from the well.
I remember talking with Bryce as we were settling in about how disappointed I was that I wasn’t going to be staying in a hut. I said that is the experience, living in a hut, and we don’t get to even do that. Was I ever wrong. Living in a hut may have been part of the experience for some students, but for us it wasn’t. Instead, we got a extremely loving family, and even participated in the activities that rural families do. There were mornings where we could be caught slashing/cutting the grass with a machete. This was no little task. I am very grateful for the invention of the lawnmower after experiencing this. The afternoons were often spent doing a lot of resting as is the normal for the rural life. Since they sleep little at night, they spend most the afternoon catching up on sleep. There was one afternoon where we worked with the herdsman milking our families cows. We were also in charge of the many goats our family owned. We would take them out in the morning and tie them up to graze, and then would bring them in after dinner for the night. The nights were the best time. This was what I called family time. One evening we spent a few hours climbing up a hill quite close to our home, and got some of the most amazing pictures of the African land and sky. Another evening we walked to the pond that one of my host brothers had dug himself. After that we took a long walk through the African forest behind our home.
I think the highlight of the week was the church service the second day we were there. Our church was very small, and still separated. The women sat on one side of the church, while the men sat on the other. The men and women also used separate offering plates. After the special preacher did his sermon, an elderly women in the congregation got up and began testifying of a horrific experience she had been through. She recalled horrible details of watching 3 of her 4 sons killed by rebels trying to overthrow President Museveni. She even pointed to scars on her own arms where she had been tied by the rebels, and then had a knife placed up to her neck, but she then explained how there was only one thing that kept her from being killed that day. She said that it could only be the grace of God that saved her, and it is from the same God’s forgiveness of her own sins, that she now has completed the difficult task of forgiving the men who killed her own sons.
I felt when we left our family, I was leaving people who showed me so much love, and who took so much time to share their lives with me and Bryce. God really is present here, and I see that now more than ever. Now with only a few weeks left in this incredible experience I am beginning to see clearly why God has me here, and it makes leaving here very difficult. Again thank you all for your prayers and support.