Faith,  Travels

Uganda: I Almost Didn’t Go

I’ve been home for a week after my trip to Uganda with Mercy for Mamas. But, there is something you should know.

I almost didn’t go. 

When the trip was first presented to me, I said no. There were a million reasons why it wasn’t feasible. Being away from my family for 2 weeks (a week is my max), the cost to go ($3000), the travel involved (30+ hours one way), the required vaccines (we don’t vax), taking off work for half a month (if I don’t work, I don’t get paid), and the simple fact that it was not just another country but another continent. Just the idea of the trip was way outside my comfort zone. So, I said no.

Over the next week the Lord was really working on my heart. Even now, I specifically remember the moment He told me to go and I relented. I was ready to say “yes”. It was like an instant weight had been lifted. There is a certain freedom in being obedient to the Lord. It’s something that I’ve been working to accept.

The only problem was, I thought the opportunity had passed. I was so disappointed in myself and my lack of faith and trust.

Then an email showed up in my inbox asking again if I wanted to go. I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. The conviction on my heart was so strong and I was thrilled that God gave me another opportunity to exercise my faith.

Now the pressure was on. I needed to raise $3000 in 90 days but I had no doubts that God would provide and he did. Even when there were some unexpected expenses, he provided for those too.

Yet, there were times when I still wanted to back out. In my mind, I backed out a million times and then some.

I didn’t want to be away from my family for that long. Could my hubby really manage the logistics of running our household on his own?

I didn’t want to go without pay for 2 weeks. Could we really afford that loss?

I didn’t want to be in a third world country. Could I really survive without modern conveniences?

I didn’t want to get vaxed. Are they really warranted in this situation?

The Lord gave me peace and provision for every scenario including a wonderful babysitter for tLG, a vaccine exemption and an alternative treatment regimen.

I really tried to approach this trip with a sense of adventure, which kind of goes against everything in my type A personality. My goal was just to take each day as it comes. I’m a strong believer that “knowledge is power” but, in this case, I was content to subscribe to the “ignorance is bliss” philosophy.

Then, this travel warning was issued. One of my biggest fears is being killed or captured in a foreign land. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t travel abroad anymore. This had been an underlying fear from the very beginning. It was a huge unspoken reason for why I backed out the first time. Here I was being legitimately faced with my biggest fear. I ultimately decided that the Lord knew advance about this travel warning when He asked me to go and I trusted that He needed me in Uganda either way.

Honestly, I thought I was going to be killed in Africa. I’m serious. I accepted this fact with as much grace as I possibly could muster. I didn’t tell anyone but Mike and we had a good cry about it. I wiped my work computer of all my personal files. I wrote notes explaining my last wishes. I set as many things in place as I could to make things run smoothly without me. It may seem silly, but it’s just as real to me now as it was then. I was legitimately scared.

I sincerely didn’t think I would come home from Uganda.

My husband’s last words to me were, “think with your head and not with your heart.” He’s a marine, obviously. Talk about a contradiction of purpose. I’m going on a trip to serve underprivileged women and children in a impoverished nation. How can I not think with my heart?

While we were there, I was “waiting for the boom” everywhere we went. I am always calm and cool on the outside in the face of adversity. It’s part of what makes me a good doula and I am truly thankful for that characteristic. On the outside, I was thinking with my heart. I completed my assignments with passion. However, I was on constant alert everywhere we went. I always knew my surroundings and was on the lookout for nefarious characters or suspicious activity. I almost always sat by the window or in the front of the bus where I could see. Each morning, I packed my backpack with my OB medical gear right along side some carefully tucked away survival gear. Internally, I was thinking with my head. Hard core.

While we were in Uganda, there were bombings happening in Kenya and I knew that we had to fly through Nairobi to come home. Even once we had successfully made it out of Uganda, I still sat in that Kenyan airport “waiting for the boom”.  Everyone else was watching World Cup while my heart palpitated in a different way. Basically, I didn’t fully relax for 2 weeks until we were flying out of Sudan airspace and headed for London.

Yes, I’m home and thankful to be here but I’m so glad I didn’t change my mind and officially back out. The Lord was truly in control of this trip. I departed wondering if I would even have something to contribute but it became evident quickly what my role was. 

I had the opportunity to see these mamas hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

I educated women on labor techniques and comfort measures.

I showed teenagers at a crisis pregnancy center how to breastfeed their babies and resolve feeding issues.

I provided basic prenatal care to women who had never received any before.

I got to see how a group of women who didn’t know each other come together and each have a role to play and fulfill it naturally and beautifully.

We were able to provide sterile birthing supplies to women who would have no other way of obtaining them.

I thought I was going to serve the women of Uganda and glorify God in the process. Ultimately, that is what happened. But the Lord, He is so gracious, He allowed me to be blessed in the midst of it. Yes, the days were long and the work was exhausting. Meals were skipped, sleep was random, and conditions were sketchy at times. Despite all that, it was hands down the most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life and my heart is SO full! Why? Because there is freedom in being obedient. When we are faithful, God fulfills us in ways we never thought possible. Then, like icing on a cake, He reunited me with my peeps!

*All photos courtesy of A Southern Ruckus who more eloquently explains the details of what we saw and experienced in Uganda in this post. Check it out!

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