A “Good” Trip
What follows is my first newlsetter article after returning to the U.S.
“Did you have a good trip to Africa?”
It’s a straightforward question and one sincerely asked. So why is it so difficult for me to answer?
Maybe it’s because we may not mean the same thing by “good.” Normally, when someone asks if I’ve had a good trip, they are asking if it was pleasant or enjoyable, or at least uneventful. But none of those words really fits with the experience we just encountered. When in Africa, you see children with bellies distended from malnutrition, people who quite literally are slowly starving, people who live in filth and squalor that is unimaginable unless you’ve seen it for yourself, people who have lived with pain so intense and so prolonged that they are seemingly impervious to any more. None of those things are “good.” They are harsh and brutal realities, the kind of thing you want to shield your children from ever seeing.
And yet, I saw something else in Africa, too. I saw God.
I saw God in the untiring labors of my missionary friend, Alissa Sande and her husband, Pastor Victor. How do they do that work day after day and not break? It can only be God.
I saw God in the broken hearts of Americans who refused to let their Ugandan brothers and sisters be ignored, who spent themselves in a furious fit of love, who came back exhausted. I told them before we left that the price to be paid for going to Uganda would not be measured in dollars and cents. The real price would be that God would utterly smash their hearts to pieces, and we would have to live the rest of our lives with no recovery. That is all esoteric preacher-talk until it happens. Now they understand.
I saw God in the moments – a Ugandan baby asleep in American arms, safe and secure if only for an hour; a patient receiving compassionate care in a world where tenderness was calloused over long ago; a child hearing “I love you” from someone who was yesterday a stranger. Those moments were powerful. And plentiful. I tell you, I saw God. And that is good.
We’ve scheduled time for TeamUGANDA to give you their thoughts on Aug. 14. If they are like me, it may take until then just to give words to what they saw and heard and sensed, how they felt and how they are now feeling. Maybe by then, we can try to answer the question.