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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Playing Catch-Up --> Preparing for Uganda

Sadly, I feel like a layer of dust has settled over my blog :( Sorry about this! But -as you can imagine- I've kept pretty busy! As some of you know I've been in Uganda for the past couple weeks, but I want to rewind and shed a little light on these past few months.
The time before my departure was quite stressful, but really exciting at the same time! I was able to conquer some of my big fears. . .like my fear of needles and taking pills. Although, when you weigh them up against yellow fever and malaria. . .you can guess which I chose. I almost passed out in the nurse's office after my Yellow Fever shot actually, a start to my list of "firsts" made with this trip.A lot of time was spent in research and filling out forms, but I know that it is all worth it in the end!

Through all the fundraising needed for the trip, I've discovered a deep love for my church & community during these past months. Thank you to all for your support, you know who you are! I will never be able to repay you for the opportunity you have helped me obtain. Also- a shout out to all who purchased Ashewelry! You were a huge help, as all the profit received went straight to paying for the trip.

I've really been able to connect with people in a new way since my decision towards missions and specifically missions in Africa. I actually have a couple of close friends who are also planning on taking missions trips during the summer; one to the Dominican Republic another to China. It's comforting to know that others have chosen to stretch their faith in this way and I can't wait to share stories! Although, I have to say (other than my immediate family) the person who has encouraged me the most in preparing for the trip has to be a fellow co-worker of mine. She has gone to Africa in the past and plans on living there as a missionary in the near future, as the Lord wills. Actually, her and her future husband plan on moving to Uganda! So I'm sure we are to have long conversations about the country and it's culture specifically. Her knowledge of the challenges of missions trips and basics of living in a third world country have already helped me immensely! Note to anyone traveling to a third-world country: Bring baby wipes & baby powder. There is no guarantee you will shower regularly. . .something to look forward to, I know :)

The week before my departure I was flooded with several emotions.
***Sunday -Father's Day- I talked to the parents of the friend I mentioned earlier who traveled to China. They said that life was very tough their for their son. Knowing that this guy is very independant and emotionally stable, the fact that HE of all people was homesick. . .I was uneasy to say the least. This is coming from a girl who hasn't spent a week away from family, much less 6 weeks thousands of miles away from them. So, the beginning of the week I was nervous about feeling homesick.
***Tuesday night I went to a weekly bible meeting that has been such a blessing for me already this summer. It's called "Pop-In" , the summer version of an outreach at school. The people at these meetings bury me in compassion and caring. Just walking in the room brings me peace. These gracious people prayed over me, knowing that this was the last week I was able to see them before leaving. Honestly? I've never been prayed over before, but God has showed me the power of prayer through many occurences this past month, and this was one of them. I was no longer anxious or worried about anything dealing with my trip. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Thank you God! The talks I was able to have the rest of the night gave me even more assurance that God was in control of my situation. It is He that called me to Uganda this summer. It is He that will keep me safe.
***Thursday I discovered how much funding I had through being the missionary for VBS this year & support letters I had sent out. The result? Not what was expected. Finances has always been something I have been able to control in the past; organization in this area has been crucial to me. This was the first time that I had no control over my finances, but you know what? God had control over it and He still does. Right after hearing the total, I came outside and sat down to hear the LOUDEST clap of thunder I have ever experienced. No joke. Have you ever heard that God speaks to us through storms? Well, I know that God was telling me "Trust me! I called you to this trip, I alone will provide."
That night our family was having a going away supper for me because my sister & brother-in-law would not be able to make it to the airport that Saturday. After dinner we took a walk down our road; we live out in the country so this is a walk I make pretty frequently. But this time it was different, the sun was setting, and I knew that this was the beginning of my "lasts" before I left. The last time I would walk on this road, see a Kansas sunset, see my sister, brother, and brother-in-law, not to mention my 3 month old nephew. I was battling nostalgia and homesick-ness and I hadn't even left yet! I now have a photo album of pictures my sister-the photographer took on the walk, and it is tucked in my suitcase.
I talked to my sister Amy about the challenges of the next 6 weeks. You know what she said? Something to this extent: "Ashley, you'll experience a lot of hardship during your trip; like homesickness and emotional rollar coasters (like that past week). But this is the life of a missionary. Sometimes God has to take us out of our comfort zones to stretch our faith in ways He couldn't do while we are at home. Your faith will grow as a result of this trip, and I'm excited to see the results!" Amy, I am so blessed to have such a wise sister. I love you!
***Friday of course was anxious excitement! I spent the whole day packing and imagining life in Uganda :)

My experience in various airports was definately not as confusing as I thought, I had no problems...thank goodness! I met up with a wonderful couple in Dallas, and we toured London together! It was amazing being able to see the city and it's detailed architecture - so much better than just seeing pictures! All I could think about was what life would be like in Uganda. . .