Saying goodbye to Return Ministries was difficult for our team. I was the only one who had ever been there, and my visits were only for a few hours. The days we spent there were full of children that desperately needed one on one love and attention. They children didn't want us to leave their sides. Many had open wounds and fevers and my team was broken for them. Already, I saw the wheels in their minds turning. They felt called to help. I look forward to watching that come to pass. That is probably one of the rewarding things to see as a leader!
As our morning team worshiped together to the talented Curtis, I raised my hands high in admiration. I sang loudly with joy and thanks for the work He was just beginning to do in our team. I prayed for my leadership, for wisdom to make the right decisions as a leader, for unity, for my team members to give me grace when I made mistakes, and for the two team members that were still delayed in Chicago.
As a short term mission trip leader, I have to be aware of the diversity of our team. I need to be sensitive to different religions, life experiences and personalities. This was going to be our first time praying over ministry leaders. I can recall a time in my life that praying out loud was unheard of! And laying of hands was for the crazy charismatic folk! Our team circled around Samuel and Sarah and lifted them up in prayer. I explained that I would be opening in prayer and Brittany, my co-leader, would be closing. And if anyone felt led to pray in between that they could. I was blown away at the amount of heart felt prayer! We must have prayed over them for over ten minutes, which is nothing to Africans, but I was proud! Proud of the boldness, proud that my team was allowing the Spirit to takeover, proud that they wanted to pray and proud that I was standing back enough to let it happen!
No one on our team had been to Ekubo before, including our drivers. We realized this about an hour after driving around in circles! We had no phone number, nor Internet service. So how does one without any means of communication nor navigation systems find a location in rural Uganda? You pull over and ask any random person walking, of course. But no one knew of Ekubo Ministries. Finally, we found someone who did...or so we thought. He got into the van carrying our luggage and took us down miles and miles of bumpy dirt roads. We come to a compound with newer construction, that looks like it houses a ministry and they say we are here! Whew, we are temporarily relieved! Then they keep calling the ministry by another name. I insist that we are not in the correct place, and the driver tells me, yes we are and that they just call it by another name. I tell them that we are not staying unless we see George and Christie, the ministry directors. One of our team members had an international plan on their phone, so we called VO for George's number. Back on the road we went! We finally arrived about four hours after we were supposed to. Flexibility, right!
When we arrived at Ekubo, it was dark and everyone was tired. The workers and George worked on setting up our sleeping arrangements as Christie told her story. I had already heard George's version of how the unlikely two met, and was anxious to hear her version. A white girl from Alabama marrying a village leader from the bush in Uganda, makes for a funny story!
My team was exhausted, and I could see them coming down from their high. That's a hard thing to see as a team leader. I wanted to manufacture that same momentum we had at the beginning of our trip, but it wasn't my job. All I could do was try to keep it going and hope that through talking thru it, it would bring them back to their sweet spot, so to speak.
Our mattresses were squeezed onto floors in two bedroom home, and then in two small workers quarters behind the home. Mosquito nets were hung with rope draped across the room like a laundry line. We were living in the bush! We knew it was coming, and that our stay would not be "comfortable" by American standards, but I think reality set in once we were actually there. Christie had told us that the water for the toilet and sinks came from a water barrel outside and that her kids had to pump water from the bore hole to fill it. When teams came, it emptied the barrel quickly, so not flushing so often would help with that. There was no hot water heater, so I opted for baby wipe baths! We were living as close as we could to the families in that village. And I'm glad to have had this experience.
Some of our team had still not received their luggage and were sharing clothes with other team members. And Hannah and I had been in Uganda for a week, so it needed to be a laundry day. There were no washing machine or dryers in the bush, so hand washing in basins was our only option. I was excited to wash! I wanted clean clothes! The workers and children laughed at us as we pumped water from the bore hole, carried it to our basins in Jerry cans, and attempted to wash our clothes. I started hanging up my clothes on the bushes to dry in the sun, as they do. But...I didn't realize that my panties would cause such an uproar! There were men working on a building nearby and were giggling and staring at my multicolored Hanes Her Way panties drying on the bush. One of e women pulled me aside and told me to hang them dry in the bathroom because it was causing too much of a scandal! Wow, I learned something new! I never knew those Hanes Her Way would be viewed in such a way...lol!
Christie walked us down to the children's home, where abandoned children are brought until they can be reestablished with extended family or adopted out. There was a little boy crying when we walked up and I picked him up to comfort him. He clang onto me tightly. I was okay with it, but didn't want to be a baby hog, so I passed him onto another team member. Wow, he got upset!
Brittany went to market with George and some other team members to prepare the feast for Ekubo. They came back with about ten really nasty, sick looking chickens that had pooed all over the van and themselves! I had initially wanted to kill one, but those chickens were nasty! So what do I do? I delegated the chicken slaughtering to willing young girls on my team! Now that was hilarious! The knife was dull, and the girls were hesitant, so the poor chickens had a very slow death! Honestly, it was one of the funniest things I have seen...the girls reaction of course!