Webale yo - welcome back, was the common greeting as I stepped off of the MAF Caravan that flew us from Entebbe to the Airstrip in Bundibugyo. There were many smiles, hugs, and much all around joy to be back. Even the crew of Ugandan's who I worked closely with on the water project with in the fall made the trip to the airstrip with the missionaries to greet me there.
Welcome back. How are you? How is your family? How was the U.S.? We are glad you have come back. And then again the next Ugandan friend asks similar questions. Greetings in Uganda hold a special place in my heart – they are the first thing that you encounter in the culture that reminds you that here relationship proceeds productivity –there is something deeper in the greetings that is easy to miss on your first trip here when you are busy wondering why you get the same questions day in and day out, yet so apparent when you have been gone for a while and have returned.
Our travels were difficult from the get go. Eleven people, two days of travel, and 24 pieces of luggage just under the 70lb limit each are a recipe for a logistical nightmare and plenty of stress and anxiety. I don't even want to recount the night and morning of getting to Newark and to the airport and check in. Let's suffice it to say that if we were are football team we threw the playbook out the window and were calling audibles the entire time.
God really blessed us with our luggage. We were two pieces over our luggage allowance, but BA gave Stephanie an additional luggage piece because she had a one way missionary fare. So we were faced with paying for the additional piece of luggage – no small thing at $250. As we were sitting there checking in (not a small work in itself), a BA representative who must have been managing the staff that morning came up to talk to us and see how check in was going if there was anything he could do to help. We said actually there might be something…we explained to him the extra piece of luggage and what we needed it for – a peanut grinder for the nutrition project here. He said let me see what I can do and came back five minutes later and said that today the peanut grinders would be on him!!! Amazing.
We made it through customs without much fanfare in the end…there were are few moments of worry when the Ugandan MAF helper walked us right into the line where you have items to declare – all of us were thinking in our minds…no don't go in there we don't have anything to declare. The official who met us was friendly. He asked us if we had anything to declare. We said no. He walked right up to one of the boxes with a peanut grinder in it and said what's in here. A peanut grinder. He asked is it remaining in Uganda. We said yes. He shot us a look like we might have to talk about this (paying duty and such), but Stephanie quickly chimed in – it is staying with me I live in Bundibugyo (she has a work/resident permit). He got a massive smile, you are all going to Bundibugyo? Yes. He chuckled – "you can take anything to Bundibugyo".
We are quickly settling in. The other interns have been wide eyed and asking many questions. I'm really excited for there time here. I must get this posted before internet time expires…soon I will write about church yesterday – "AMAZING." For now let's just say that there was dancing in the house of the Lord yesterday. It's so good to be back.