Below is an excerpt from one of Sydney’s blog posts. Read more and follow Sydney on her Ugandan mission work here.
How do I explain something so foreign with only familiar words? The things that I have encountered in the past forty-eight hours of my life… I cannot explain. I will not do any of it justice. To say that Jinja is a beautiful city in a glorious country is an immense understatement. There are no words to describe the beauty of God’s territory here. The lush greens that fill every crevice of the land. The red earth that taints the soles of my shoes. The vast expanse of seemingly blue water. The white smiles of his precious people. And it’s funny, because while I am exceptionally out of place as a mzungu (i.e. white person) in this foreign land, I feel a sense of peace and belonging.
I sit here wondering what I should write. I feel like I should have some profound recollections and crazy stories, but life just keeps on going. Two days ago, I landed in Uganda in a completely open airport. I obtained my VISA in a matter of two minutes and was checked for Ebola in less than ten seconds. A half hour later, Katie (my travel buddy and fellow Ekisa volunteer with whom I met up with in London) and I walked out to where our Ekisa driver was waiting for us. Minutes later were fearlessly traversing the streets of Uganda in a station wagon averaging between 80 to 120 km/hour while weaving in between cars, bodas, and people. Our three hour drive felt like a couple minutes as we observed the land, the peace, and the people ALL over the place. At three o’clock in the morning? Really? Our driver, Jobe, informed us that June 3rd is Marytr’s Day in commemoration for all those who were persecuted in the mid-1900’s. “People walk from all over the area to Kampala,” he explained. “Do they ever sleep?” I foolishly asked. He laughed and said, “Ugandans never sleep.” I should have known. Three hours later, we were greeted by two fellow volunteers at our guesthouse, and an hour later we were sleeping under our mosquito net… or trying, at least.
I recognize that I am slowly adapting. I think when your in a place that is so foreign, you just must adapt. There is no time to sit and reconsider the differences, because life just takes you along. God pushes us and shapes us along the way. I must adapt to being sweaty all the time. I must adapt to the heat of the night as I lay drenched in mosquito repellant under my net. I must adapt to not being able to drink water or brush my teeth with water from the faucet. I must adapt to be open and confident as a new volunteer and a new member of the guesthouse family. I woke up the next morning to the sound of the guitar and voices singing in the room next door. I knew that the two volunteers I had met the night before were out walking, and Katie was still sleeping. I hopped out of bed. I stood before the mirror in the bathroom realizing I knew no one in the guesthouse, and yet I couldn’t just hide in my bedroom. I sent up a quick prayer, and stepped outside, “Hi, my name is Sydney…”