I didn’t intend to take a team to Uganda with me this month. I had envisioned doing what I have been doing the last couple of years, since my kids were off at school and unable to go with me — go by myself, enjoy a day or two off wtih Suzanne, and not do the formerly traditional “one fun thing” that I’d always planned with the kids.
(I really miss going with my kids, and even after 4 trips alone, I would still rather go with them. Retired homeschool mom angst…)
It was kind of a long and winding road that led to the team of 3 women that went with me this time, but it was obvious from the start that God’s hand was drawing those that He wanted and needed to go. I didn’t do a thing — didn’t even envision it — but before I knew it, I had a team.
I’m an introvert — good one on one, and okay in a group, but I need a lot of down time alone to recharge. I’ve done groups before, and have learned to carve out the “me” time — it’s something not only I need, but the group needs if I’m going to be leading effectively. But that can be hard when you’re doing hours of driving each day, staying in multiple types of accommodations, and not taking days off. Yes, I was a *tad* worried.
I never doubted, though, that God had orchestrated the trip, so I planned it, coordinated it, prayed, and left it up to Him. (Always the best bet anyway, don’t you think?!)
And it was great! Sure, we got tired and hungry and had car breakdowns and all that. But honestly, it exceeded all my expectations. God always shows up!
I’ve known Hannah’s parents for nearly 20 years. They came to the beach this spring and Debra said, “Hannah wants to go to Uganda with you.”
I said, “Sure, when?”
She said, “The next time you go!”
And thus Hannah was my first team member. Turns out, Hannah is one tough cookie! She teaches Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts). She’s an ace photographer. Like me, she’s a people watcher. I loved seeing her process everything, fully engage, and, especially, come alive when teaching self defense and rape prevention to our kids. She might have been the youngest, but she was definitely the fiercest — I’d love to have some of that fierceness and bravery in my own life, so I was taking mental notes!
She’s already saving money to go back. I can’t wait to see how God uses her!
Erin and her husband are college friends with my daughter and son-in-law. I’d met Erin once before, during my daughter’s wedding weekend, but didn’t really know her. Then Ryan texted me out of the blue and said, “I think Erin wants to go with you to Uganda! Can she call you?”
We talked, and she was a little nervous. Her husband, Jeremiah, was a lot nervous. But eventually they decided that she should go, and she was all in from then on. A teacher by training, although she’s not teaching anymore, I knew that she would love a lot of aspects of the trip: the Ray of Hope School and the babies home in particular. What I didn’t know is how enthusiastically she would engage in everything, how fully present she would be to everything going on, and how positive and full of laughter she’d be, even when we were all tired. What a great addition to our team!
The last one to join the team was Allie, who is also the only team member who lives near me. She heard me speak about missions at a local meeting, and within a week had bought her ticket! She’d always wanted to go to Africa, and, as a nurse, was really excited to be able to use her skills in Uganda.
Allie was the ball of energy on the team! Determined to experience everything and talk to everybody, she made friends everywhere she went. She danced, sang, tried to learn the language, organized photos, took walk-abouts, and laughed throughout the trip. The Ugandans affectionately named her “Mzungu Mulalu” – crazy white person – and beamed at her jokes and affection. Allie has two speeds – off and on. When she’s ON, she’s fully there, which is a great quality to have.
While not officially “part of the team” our trip was made MUCH richer because of our driver, Derrick. I didn’t realize it at first, but Derrick had driven my son and his friend to Jinja once. When I mentioned it to Zeke, he said, “Oh, that guy was super cool!” And yes, he was super cool!
Derrick was an excellent driver, but he was also totally into everything we were doing. He especially loved the kids, and played futbol, taught them skills, chatted with them one-on-one, and generally thoroughly enjoyed every day. He’d never been to Lake Mburo, or seen hippos, so it was awesome to have him on the boat with us, too. In short, I can’t image the trip being nearly as fun or nearly as smooth without Derrick – who was especially great during our several mechanical breakdowns. I’m really thankful that he was our driver, and can’t wait to share another adventure with him in March!
For me, having a team was pretty great. I got to see things through their eyes, things that I am used to and so perhaps don’t find as disturbing as I should. After all, you can only see/smell something for the first time once, and this was my 11th trip. I loved watching them all fall in love with Uganda and her people, showing them all different sides of the land, and introducing them to some of my favorite people in the world.
I hadn’t thought that Ten Eighteen would ever offer team trips on a regular basis. We’ve done 2 youth camps in the past, but it hasn’t been a regular thing. But I’m rethinking that now, and, if the Lord wills it, I’ll probably be open to a team trip once a year. It’s a new dynamic, yes, but I saw how God was really revealing his work to these ladies and watched them really get it. That’s worth any amount of “quiet time!”
You can find Erin’s great blog here.