The weekend – Murchison Falls National Park
By Friday night, it was easy to see the team was exhausted – mentally and physically. The high heat was a factor, but we had seen a lot in five full days and our minds and hearts were full.
It is always a challenge to know what to do with what you have seen. For some, it is to go home and tell the stories of what you have seen; others encourage people to sponsor children or come on a trip. For all of us, the world will be seen a little differently.
During our last devotion time in Jinja, Andy talked about how he tries to live his life using what he has seen during his time in Uganda. It doesn’t mean going home and wanting to see everything you own (although some have felt that pull!) It means appreciating what you have more and using those kinds of blessings to help others. Some return from the trip and become strong advocates for Hearts and Hope; others use their experience as motivation to pursue other causes that have touched them personally in the past. Whatever the result, team members almost always feel a call to action. I pray for clarity as they rest and prepare to see their families and friends.
On Saturday morning, we checked out of the Sunset Hotel and headed to a nearby school where Betty is enrolled. We had a chance to visit the classroom where the deaf children were meeting. We took pictures with the kids and moved on to where Betty sleeps. She seems happy and stronger than when I saw her before. She opened her package from the Ehlmann family and gave us lots of smiles!
Next we made the short trip to the Source Café where everyone ordered lunch and descended up the market to shop for treasures to take home. We did our part in supporting the local economy and enjoyed our chicken guacamole wraps. Afterwards, we boarded our bus to make the 2-hour drive back to Kampala.
In Kampala, we checked into the Hotel Africana and changed to go to dinner at the Rock Garden. Later, we drove back to the hotel; some made it an early night and others enjoyed the stars for awhile longer.
The next morning, the tour company picked us up in two vehicles for the long drive to Murchison Falls National Park. We stopped for lunch along the way and arrived at Paraa Safari Lodge around 5:00 pm. The guys headed straight to the pool to cool off; the women headed to the showers. I suppose the end result was the same!
We enjoyed an early-morning game drive the next day and a boat ride on the Nile in the afternoon that took us to the bottom of Murchison Falls. Dinner was around 7:30 and almost everyone was asleep by 10:00pm!
We left the lodge around 8:45 Monday morning. After a 45-minute drive, we arrived at the top of the falls and enjoyed a half-hour break there. From the falls we drove another hour to the south entrance of the park and then two hours on to the town of Masindi.
In Masindi we met Pastor Raymond and enjoyed our boxed lunch under a tree. He accompanied us to the school in Kijambura where they have students in nursery school through P3. Their plan is to continue to add a grade each year, but all 5 classes currently meet in one large room so space has become an issue. The P3 class sang “Shake the Mango Tree”, one of my favorites. We handed out candy and got back into our vehicles for the 3-hour drive back to Kampala.
I checked into my room at the hotel and everyone got the chance to shower before they headed to the airport. I said my teary good-byes as the team got on the bus, accompanied by Henry, Ronald, and our driver, Julius.
The team is home now and I’m sure fighting jet lag. Please ask them about their trip!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.