Friday, July 11, 2008
I am home safely and happily. The flight was long: 8 hours, then 13, then 3.. but I am feeling great, and just so grateful for the gift of this experience. There is so much to say, but the overwhelming impression I am left with is admiration and appreciation for the people I have grown to love.
Gulu is full of dirt and poverty, yet there was color and singing everywhere I went. There is literally no one who escaped the trauma of 20 years of horrific war, but instead of bitterness and anger, there is the desire to forgive and heal. I will never forget my first church service complete with joyful singing and traditional dancing and laughter. How could praise be possible after seeing such evil and feeling such pain? I came to offer some help to broken people, but I learned quite clearly that broken is not nearly the same as destroyed.
Most people in Gulu live very simply in huts with grass roofs, outdoor kitchens, and few possessions. The lack of water makes everyday life for most people difficult- so much time was spent hauling water for just simple tasks like washing and cooking. For almost everyone I met, the conveniences in our lives are beyond even dreaming about ( like driving a car or using a computer or owning two pairs of shoes) but somehow there is contentment; survival without complaint is just a way of life.
A few of my students sent me home with letters to my students here; a few even wrote of their lives in IDP camps or, in one case, of his years as an abducted child soldier. I wish I could say I made a huge difference in the lives of the people I met, but sadly, my contributions felt very small against the huge sea of problems that afflicts these good people. I am left most of all with gratitude- thanks for being able to go, for meeting the people I met, for seeing evidence of God's faithfulness where I had not expected to find it. It will take some sorting out, I'm sure, to figure out how to live graciously in this culture of extravagant possessions which often lacks the deep contentment that I found in the people of Gulu.
Thanks, so so many of you that prayed for me, that cared about me, that read my long blog posts. I hope Gulu changed me for the better. My prayer now is that somehow there's a ripple effect from my trip. and that this trip is more than just a great experience for me. What a privilege to go, what a privilege to come home! Much love to all of you!