I have literally typed out seven different sentences, trying to figure out where to start. So much has happened in only one week.
We, Krista and I, left Summerland at 7:15 AM on the cold, December, Wednesday morning so that I could get to the airport an hour and a half early. I woke up feeling absolutely awful that morning; I was still recovering from a lung-alignment inflammation, the side effects from the Hep B shot I had gotten the day before was wretched, and to top everything off, I hadn’t slept at all the night before.
Spiritually speaking, I was nervous. That morning as I showered, I realized I was actually getting on a series of planes to go to Africa by myself. What the heck am I doing? Am I even capable of doing this? Maybe I should call my Mom again, just one more time…she knows everything and makes the best decisions, right?
Then I opened my devotions,
“I AM the Prince of Peace. As I said to My disciples, I say also to you: Peace be with you. Since I am your constant Companion, My Peace is steadfastly with you . . . Walk with Me along paths of Peace; enjoy the journey in My Presence.” (Jesus Calling, Young, pg. 353).
Enjoy the journey in My Presence.
It stuck out to me like a sore thumb.
As Krista and I hugged one last time at the airport, she proceeded to tell me how much she loves me and is so proud of me. The tears flowed for the first time. I told her I was scared. I didn’t know why. I had a peace; I hadn’t forgotten anything. I was excited to go; I was excited to adventure. But that pinching fear of maybe, just maybe, I can’t do this. Krista gave me that loving, big sister look, and told me that there’s nothing to fear; that God would be with me every step of the way. Isn’t it funny how big sisters can comfort the little sister, and in an instant, the hurt is suddenly gone?
Going through security, a man behind me asked about my sweater. I was wearing my Ekitangaala Ministries hoodie. I told him how to say it and what it was. He asked me if I had ever gone to Africa before. I noticed he was holding a Bible in his hands.
“Nope, but I’m on my way there today!”
“Blessings! ‘Don’t be afraid; for I am with you wherever you go.'”
And with that, he moved to the other line for security. Instantly, I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence; I really wasn’t alone in this.
As my family sent me encouraging texts and prayers through our iMessage thread, (family goals met, am I right?) I smiled and cried a little as I felt the love streaming through the words, and the presence of Christ with me.
My first flight from Kelowna to Calgary, I sat first class by myself. I couldn’t help but sing Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in my head the whole hour. (I know I would make you proud, Mak!)
My second flight from Calgary to Amsterdam was a long one; 8 hours. I was pretty nervous about who I was going to be stuck with the whole way.
His name was Majif from Kenya. He is twenty years old and an international student. At first, it was the awkward, small talk, but things escalated quickly. He started asking not bad, but probing questions about my life. It suddenly dawned on me that the Holy Spirit was going to take lead of this conversation. I then shared my testimony with Majif, whose background is Hinduism, and I could see the tears and conviction in his eyes that God was stirring his heart.
My flight from Amsterdam to Uganda was another long one; 10 hours. This time I wasn’t as worried. I didn’t sleep at all the last flight, so I was extremely exhausted. I got on the plane, and waited to see who I would be sitting next before passing out. He was a taller, white, American man. I slept for most of the flight, on and off again. The last two hours of the flight, we started talking a little bit. I found out that Mike was a missionary from San Francisco to Kampala, and he knew Sperling family! It was so cool to see that so well orchestrated.
I arrived in Entebbe, Uganda at 10:30 PM on Thursday night. I was over-tired, starving because I missed breakfast on the plane, and overjoyed to start this adventure.
The first figure I saw waiting for me was a skinny, blonde, white girl waving and smiling at me; it was so weird to see a familiar face after so much travelling! Sydney gave me a hug, then Chris, with Anna on his shoulders, did as well.
We then drove from Entebbe to home, which is a little out of Jinja; 3 hours.
The first couple days I was here, I began to get anxious and fearful. Fear of not meeting the need. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being able to get the kids caught up. Fear in general. But at church, we sang, “Our God is Greater” I found a release and comfort in the words.
“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?”
A lightbulb went off. It all became clear:
I know that my God has lead me here. This is His will. I am exactly where He wants me to be. Nothing can stand against Him; not even my petty fears. And if I do fail, who cares? My hope is in Christ alone; that is the very foundation of who I am.
The morning of the very first day of teaching, Chris read a morning devotion that read;
“Serve whole-heartedly and with reverent joy with the strength God has provided you.”
I instantly had peace. Even in my own devos that same morning, it talked about Christ being with me even in the most menial task. I knew that God was giving me the encouragement my heart needed to hear the most. I was reminded that not only am I not able to do this on my own, but that I am to use my gifts and talents to serve others as well.
This family is absolutely beautiful. Chris and Jane Sperling have wonderful, God-fearing, loving, gentle hearts. Their kids, all six of them, are unbelievably beautiful, bright, energetic, funny, and smart. I’ve already fallen in love with them like they’re my own family, and it’s only been one week.
My routine has become;
Breakfast at 8:00 am and school starts around 9:00 am. I mainly teach the three, younger, school-aged kids; Isaiah (9), Ezra (7), and Anna (5). This week has been crazy with figuring out what they need to get caught up in and what their abilities are. But they are all so patient and gracious to me, as I try to balance who gets to an explanation/answer to their questions first.
Lunch is around 1:00 pm. Anna is usually done her school by lunch. The two younger boys finish between 3:30 and 4:00 pm. After the kids are done their school, I go through their work and prepare for tomorrow and clean up the school room. Evening tea, which happens only sometimes, is between 4:30 and 5:00 pm. I finish my prep around 7:30 pm. The boys play soccer in the yard every evening for about an hour to two hours. The other night, I played with them; man, they are so good! I was surprised I was able to keep up with them! They also love to play golf. We went golfing this week (I just watched and took photos), and they all did so well!
After soccer, they come back inside and watch TV, while waiting for dinner.
Dinner is between 8:00 and 8:30 pm. The food has been so good!
Then we all just hangout for a bit, or play card games if there’s time, until the kids go to bed at 10:00 pm (which has also been my bedtime too!).
Today was even more crazy trying to prepare because I had to learn how to send the kids’ work to their teachers in Abbotsford.
I think the only thing I was really expecting was to have the culture shock so many people talk about. But I really haven’t had it yet. Even though we don’t always have electricity, there’s huge cockroaches, the dirt is bright red and clay-like, the people are mostly all dark-skinned, the running water shuts off for a whole day or two, I sleep inside a giant net around my bed, the showers are freezing cold, everyone around me speaks in another language…
I am home.
I have an overwhelming peace of His presence in this place, no matter the cultural difference.
I feel so blessed and thankful to be here. I feel privileged to be living here and serving; I forget that I’m doing work. I am in absolute love with my God that prepares these adventures for me!
“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:4-5