Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gulu: Day One

This past week, Catharine, her niece Calista, her nephew Stephen, Kate and I headed to Gulu to visit our site up there. I decided to write about our days there. I'll post them day by day as well, it got longer than expected. God taught me a TON during this time as well as seeing things that I've never seen but only heard about. Enjoy. :)

We arrived on Thursday afternoon due to a verrry early morning wake up call to leave. Catharine had a meeting with Alfred, the Gulu site leader in the afternoon. We all squeezed (literally) into Catharine’s car for the ride. My anticipations were high as I’ve wanted to go to Gulu for so long. Soon after arriving and checking into our hotel, Hotel Roma, we went to lunch at Diana Gardens. The Rome themed names humored me as northern Uganda has no resemblance to Italy.  Calista, Kate and I sat in on Catharine’s meeting with Alfred. It was interesting to hear of all that a site leader has to deal with and amazing to see how Alfred’s mind worked to solve many of these problems. That night we all played card games. Everyone else satisfied their stomachs with cookies while Stephen and I ate at the hotel restaurant next door. I thought that prior to coming to Uganda, I would escape the Obama-mania of America. Ah, but to no avail. The hotel restaurant had a huge Obama calendar proclaiming “It’s Time For Black Power”. 

That first night I realized two discouraging things. First, I had forgotten my make-up bag. Not a HUGE deal but the realization that I’d be officially looking like trash for our entire trip was an annoyance. The second was higher on my annoyance list. When I was getting settled in my room, I noted and killed quite a few little baby cockroaches. They were little so it wasn’t the hugest deal but I wasn’t exactly excited to have them in my room. It was when I entered my room that night that it became a problem. I opened the door, turned on the bathroom light (the closest switch that actually worked), glanced in the bathroom and saw all sorts of movement. Big cockroach movement. I’m not a verbalizer during times like these; I’m a soundizer. No words came out but this loud moaning scared whine noise came instead. I had already warned Stephen that if there were any more bugs, he’d get a knock. I’m glad he was prepared. I think it was my soundizer that clued him in as apparently even Kate who was two doors down heard my noises. She thought it was someone speaking in another language. Nope, just one really freaked out American. I waited in the hall with Kate as Stephen killed everything that moved in the bathroom. He wouldn’t tell me exact details of all that he killed so I’m waiting until we leave the infamous Hotel Roma (now referred by me as “Hotel Roacha”). I carefully walked back in the room and quickly arranged my mosquito net over the bed. Inside the mosquito net, I put my battery powered fan, headlamp, cell phone and book. The power had already gone out a couple times so I was happy for my battery powered fan and headlamp.

 God and I had some time to talk after I settled myself in (and tucked in the mosquito net to make it roach proof despite the large holes in the net). I explained to God how we’d just gotten here and these two discouragements had done just that: discouraged me. I don't think God needed my explanation; it was pretty clear. I was frustrated. Annoyed. Not wanting this trip to be like this. These weren't what MY plans were. I then realized that I hadn’t really hardcored prayed over this trip to Gulu. I started praying for the people that we had met that day, those who we would meet and more. It then occurred to me: this trip isn’t so much about me. I know, real shocker, right? You know when God just kind of sucker punches you to put you in your place and you feel like “huuuuaaah”, big punch just took the breath out of you. Yeah. That’s what it was like. God knew I needed some kind of smack in the face. He’s a good face smacker. I started listing off what I had instead of what I didn’t. The bed I was in was actually really comfortable. The power was on and a fan was blowing on me. I was secure and safe. I had a bathroom in my room. I had a shower with hot water. Most of the people in Gulu have none of the above. Who am I to complain about no make-up and roaches? I mean, REALLY. I’m currently sitting here in my hotel room, fan blowing on me, typing on my laptop. I have more than I have not. I’ve learned a lot more about what true necessities are and what luxuries are. I live a luxurious life compared to so many…and I complain!? I know that God must just shake His head at me and wonder when I’ll actually get things instead of relearning and relearning. Good thing He’s patient...

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