Would someone please PINCH me! I just got back from a SAFARI! What!?!?! Is my life great or what! 4 of us piled into a van on Sunday and headed up country 5 hours to Murchinson Falls National Park. Our first day we hiked to the top of a HUGE waterfall! It was gorgeous and breathtaking and hot and it made you feel like you were the size of an ant! God knew what He was doing when He created waterfalls. After the waterfall we drove to our hotel, Red Chili! Oh and on our drive through the park we saw numerous baboons. They were so funny and the babies were all just hanging out on their mammas backs! The place we stayed was so nice and relaxing. We slept in a banda which is just a little tin roof house with beds and mosquito nets (of course). Red Chilli came complete with an amazing view, great food, fabulous people watching (we were the only other Americans there..it was pretty refreshing), and quite a few Pumbas wandering around.. you know the usual. What safari experience wouldn't be complete without a few Lion King characters right?!?!? That night there was a MAJOR rain storm about midnight. There are no words to describe the power and sound of an African rain...needless to say we didn't get much sleep at all! We were up and in our safari van at 6:30am! We drove for 5 minutes to the river, which is the NILE, and took a ferry across to start our safari! Our guides name was Tiban..kind of like Timon right! We all climbed on top of our van and sat on pillows so that we could get the best view. We drove through tons of trees for awhile and as soon as we hit the clearing...bam! GIRAFFES! Like 10 of them!! We got to see a giraffe gallop. It was the most awkward yet graceful thing I have ever beheld. The entire time we all felt like singing Lion King songs....we did some of the time! The game drive lasted about 4 hours and we saw soooo many amazing animals! The water buffalo's seem like a tough crowd to live with. They mainly travel in large herds but we would randomly see one or two hanging out by themselves. We asked our guide about that and as serious as can be he replied "oh, those are just the loser buffalo's". We were like "What! Loser buffalo's! how do you become a loser buffalo?". Basically if the males get old or lose a fight, they are kicked out of the herd and have to become loners for the rest of their lives. Though crowd huh! But God made sure they weren't completely alone. They always have birds on their backs to eat the ticks off of them! Circle of life for sure! We saw lots of birds, antelopes, bush bucks, elephants, red tailed monkeys, warthogs, and we were lucky enough to see 1 Male lion and 2 Leopards in a tree! We even went off roading to track the lion..he was hunting antelope! After the game drive we headed back to Red Chilli for lunch. I got a BACON CHEESEBURGER! Yum! In the afternoon we went on a 3 hour boat cruise of the Nile to the base of the waterfall! We saw TONS of hippopotamuses, baby hippos, crocodiles, beautiful birds, and we got really close to a HUGE male elephant! The entire time I had to keep reminding myself that I was in AFRICA, on a SAFARI, riding a boat down the NILE! Ahhh! I highly rec commend it!
During the trip I was reading a wonderfully challenging book by Shane Claiborne titled "The Irresistible Revolution". He challenges us a Christians to actually do what Christ called us to do. To live among the poor, to leave your family to seek Him, and to live a radical life of love and forgiveness. We are all hopeless ragamuffins who are searching and seeking for the One to love us and make us feel whole and pure again. The author lives in the ghetto of Philadelphia and his main goal is to love his neighbor and hope that they know how beautiful and worthy they are in the eyes of God. he challenges all of us to fully think through our careers and think of new and imaginative ways that we can use our gifts to further God's kingdom. He tells stories of massage therapist who make frequent trips into the city to seek out the homeless and give free massages, gourmet chefs who cook five star meals for the homeless, and ordinary people taking time to talk to, love and get to know the marginalized in their communities. I will be returning home in 2 months time....and honestly....I am scared because I have absolutely no clue what to do when I return. The possibilities are endless. I will be coming home a different me, and I hope a more complete me. One of my prayers upon coming to Uganda is that I would learn how to love more like Christ and that through my time Christ would heal me from a year of pain and heartache. That prayer is slowly being answered and I can feel Him changing me slowly. However, everyone who knows me at home only knows the old me. How will the new me fit into life in American again? I cannot go back and continue in old patterns and old ways. The Lord makes all things new and I pray that He will give me a clear and fulfilling path for when I return. I just want to do something where I feel like I am helping others and loving on children. Here are some things I have learned about myself upon being here that I never knew before.
- my smile can make a child smile :o)
-i am a visual learner and I have picked up sign language quickly
-I am not as shy as I thought I was
-I am not scared to ride on a motorcycle
-I need Christ on a daily basis
- I enjoy teaching
-I love helping to heal children's wounds
-Reading is good for the soul
I know the Lord will help make my path straight.
One of the stories in Claibourne's book talks about a time when he and a friend helped a prostitute that they found crying on the side of the road. They took her back to their house and gave her something to eat. All of a sudden she said to them "You all are Christians aren't you? [they had never said anything about being Christians to her] "I knew that you were Christians because you shine. I used to be in love with Jesus like that, and when I was, I shined like diamonds in the sky, like the stars. But its a cold dark world and I lost my shine a little while back. I lost my shine on those streets." I know that all of us have lost our shine at one point or another. I have lost my shine before. Some of you reading this may feel the same way. What a true statement she made. It is a cold dark world out there and things happen that cause us to lose our shine or even our faith. But the God I love is a God who restores, and polishes until He sees us shine like diamonds again. I want to love on people who feel like they have lost their shine. I challenge all of us to love people like that. Everyone is deserving of love. Christ died on the cross for all of us. CS Lewis says "if you find within yourself, a longing greater than this world can provide, then we know that we were made for more than this world can provide. We were made for eternity". I have 2 more months here. I want to learn how to love deeper, find the most needy, forgive fully, heal greatly, and return complete. I have a wonderful community waiting for me at home and I know that they will help me transition back into American life.
I am thankful that I serve a God that can use ragamuffins like me and turn us into ordinary radicals.