Monday 20 May 2019
I couldn’t feel further from Namugongo right now.
I’m sat outside our family caravan wrapped up in jeans, a jumper, socks and boots. I’m in the middle of a very green, daisy filled field breathing in fresh, English countryside air.
Everything is quiet, everything is still. There are no horns blaring, there’s no crazy, loud, booming music. Everything is quiet, everything is still. And it’s weird.
I’ve been back home for just over a week now and I must say, this little retreat to the caravan is just what I needed. This week has been the hardest part of my experience. Things have changed. It’s ridiculous. Me in my self-centredness believed that being away for 4 months put everything and everyone in some sort of time capsule. I felt as though the world back home had frozen in time and that I’d return to find things just the same as when I’d left in January. But life goes on! Things change. People change. People have changed. People have moved house, people have got engaged, people are pregnant, people have started new jobs, people look different, people – especially my youth group – have grown. Life goes on. I know in a little while, I will get used to everything – it’s only been 4 months – but for now, it’s weird.
And then, I miss Uganda. Things have changed here and I’m missing over there. Obviously, I am overjoyed to be reunited with my family and to see loved ones and friends again. And don’t get me wrong – there are many things I won’t miss from Uganda, be it the overnight church services, the wild, tropical storms, the crazy roads and of course, the dreadful cockroaches.
But here’s a list of just some of the many things I do miss:
1) People I cannot stand goodbyes, they’re horrid. How wonderful though to remember that one day, there will be no more of them! I miss my host family terribly. I miss reading with the kids, watching them climb trees and playing games with them. I miss hanging out with my host parents – watching movies, chatting, eating and laughing together. I can’t quite put into words how greatly God blessed me through those guys. Then, I miss the students at UMS, the staff, the home-school club and the children at Church!
2) My house I miss my house, my room and strangely, sleeping under a mosquito net. (I hate bugs and having a net always made me feel very safe!) I miss my fun kitenge curtains, my desk surrounded by encouraging cards written by Christchurch kids. I miss my eucalyptus stools, my kitchen…the list goes on.
3) Unexpected visitors I had lots of unexpected visitors in my house, which always kept me on my toes. I had lizards and cats launching themselves through my windows, bleating goats on my veranda and birds and chickens appearing in my living room. Then, I had students arriving at my house for late night meals or others waking me up at 6am! I miss those little surprises.
4) ‘Going with the flow’ In the UK, we keep strict timings, we follow lists and have planners. This isn’t really a thing in Uganda. One student even asked me if I could teach her to use a diary! This ‘go with the flow’ attitude was tricky at times but I found there were real benefits too. Everything felt less pressurised. Not only that but it contributes to the culture being so relational – you stop to chat to anyone, even if that means being late for wherever you’re heading.
5) Giving Teddy computer lessons
6) 6am Bible studies
7) Morning runs on rusty red, dusty roads
8) Trips to kitenge tailor shops
9) Unashamedly wearing bright, kitenge outfits
10) Drinking overly sugared African milk tea
11) Having 1-2-1s delayed or disrupted for unusual reasons During one of my 1-2-1s, the student kept taking calls whilst we were studying because of her sick cow. This would never happen with my teenagers in England!
12) Helping with homeschooling and homeschool club
13) Greeting/being greeted with ‘helloooo, how are youuuu?’
14) Food I miss matoke, g-nut sauce, chapattis, gonja, Rolexes, cassava, Krest soda and other Ugandan delicacies.
15) Chapel Every morning, there was a college chapel service. I miss seeing the students singing and dancing and listening to the college choir.
16) Falling asleep to the sounds of chirruping crickets and croaking frogs
17) Having posho and beans with the students every Monday
18) Market shopping with my ‘host-mum’
19) The warm weather!
20) Playing the ‘what’s the maddest thing being carried on a boda’ game The maddest things I spotted were a live calf, a coffin and a sofa (they weren’t all on the same boda, although that wouldn’t even have surprised me!)
In ‘Letter 3’, I wrote how I was an emotional mess before leaving for Uganda. I was terrified about leaving people back home and about living in such a different culture. And yet here I am, 4 months later, missing all of these things, missing all of these people, an emotional mess again.
But how great that that’s the case! The fact I miss it so much just shows how much God blessed my time away. He blessed me in so many wonderful ways and through so many wonderful people. Through this and all the amazing prayers and support from so many back home, God has reminded me of how He is with us wherever we are, whatever we’re facing and whoever we’re with. Life goes on but God goes before us, behind us and with us every step of the way.
Reunited after flying home! Ice creams in Windsor to celebrate
Caravanning back in chilly England