One of the “joys” of international travel is the adjustments the body goes through upon reentry into one’s normal life! Eating, sleeping, thinking, driving, heat/cold, reading the mail, paying bills, and telling a gadzillion people about your trip are all part of that process. There is little doubt that the sleeping part is the greatest adjustment. While in Uganda, our team was ten hours ahead of Tucson in time. After a trip of this length, our bodies adjusted to this new time change. Now we are trying to get back into the normal swing of life.
Thus, it is 3:00 a.m. and I’m wide awake and ready to begin my day. I actually feel great… it is around 8:00 p.m. that my batteries begin to die. Tonight is church so it will be interesting to see if adrenalin will suffice to carry everyone through the midweek service. So, on this final post I would like to share some thoughts regarding this most recent mission trip. I was asked yesterday by one of our church members, “how was this trip in comparison to others?” Another lady asked me, “Was this trip like the China trip last July?”
Anytime that we are able to travel to a different part of the world to help a missionary, it is a privilege. I’ve heard too many disaster stories where a missionary’s work has actually been harmed by a group visiting from the United States. Therefore, we take great precautions to understand the missionary’s work prior to going. In this case, we were going to Africa to help a veteran missionary. We were going to a part of the world where day-to-day life is a challenge. We knew beforehand that even basic necessities, that we so often take for granted, would be a interesting for our group. Having three ladies travel on a building trip even caused a different dynamic. Running water, refrigeration, ice, hot water, showers, sleeping beneath mosquito nets, heat, humidity, dress, language, attitudes, Internet service, , smells, dirt, phone service, transportation, no air conditioning, safety, malaria, disease, hospitals, food, drinking water, etc. are all very real issues that we take into consideration prior to committing to such a trip.
In reality, all of these dynamics came into play with this particular trip. I marvel at the resiliency of our group. For example, there were stretches in our driving from Kampala to Aura that we would drive hours in between restrooms. On our return trip from Aura to Kampala, we left at 5:00 a.m. and arrived in Kampala at 6:30 p.m. That is a very long trip… in one of those stretches, we drove for four hours on a dirt road and no restroom facilities. Our group handled this without complaining and certainly rejoiced when we did finally stop for a cold drink and restroom break.
Before our group is formed, each person signs a “Personal Covenant” which explains in great detail the responsibility of the group member with regard to much of the above dynamics of a mission trip. Now that we have returned, I am so proud to say that for the greater part of this group, it was a smashing success. The group’s attitude was sweet, helpful, and encouraging. The work ethic was nothing short of amazing. We had many obstacles and our group worked together to overcome. Due to some of these obstacles, we were unable to complete every aspect of our trip; however, in reality it was a super big challenge to begin with. We could not control the quality, or lack thereof, of the wood. The paint was a work in progress that was filled dirt and junk that continued to gunk-up the paint sprayer.
However, the greatest victories come not in the “work” of the trip; the eternal victories come in two parts: 1. the souls that were saved, and 2. the lives that were changed among our group members. The souls that were saved will help the missionary’s work and grow it. The team members lives that were changed will help Tucson Baptist Temple. I thank each of them for the sacrifice (and there was sacrifice in a loss of vacation days, work, separation from family, finances, and the aforementioned dynamics of this trip) that they were willing to endure to permit the Lord to work in their life. Our church should be forever different as a result of this trip, in particular! Thank you team members for working together as a team.