There’s a sense of wholeness. Completion. For the present somehow points to the beginning. The now is deeply connected to the then. And the moment we find ourselves suddenly intensifies. Because the story reads rich as we remember together where God took us to, where he’s brought us from, and the place we now stand.
A full circle. Of experiences. Of community. Of journey.
Seven years ago in May, our family traveled for the first time to Uganda. One month. Three kids. And a baggage of anticipation and anxiety. This wasn’t just any visit. It was a “we’ve never been here, but here’s where we’re moving” visit. Intended commitment spoken. Money raised. Apron strings detaching. Heart preparing. Without ever having been there. Scary, really.
We were welcomed by a rainbow just off the plane. It said, “Remember my promises? I do. I will never destroy you.” Whew. That covenant quickened my step and assured my heart as I followed Jesus into the dirty soil of Uganda, into the filthy corners of my heart.
We were welcomed by a team. Those we hoped to join in ministry. Those who would become our safe hiding in an unknown place. Those now scattered, but held together by this common thread and unique relationship.
We were welcomed by Ugandans. Those we couldn’t tell one from the other even when looking at their faces. Those who would love us despite our culture shock irritability, cultural mishaps, and homesick slumber. Those, who years later, we would recognize by voice and gait and posture. For when you share space and grief and Jesus, you learn each other.
We were welcomed by a village. A family who received us into their small mud hut, fed us meals and introduced us to village life. The digging in the garden. The walking for water. The peeling of potatoes. The sleeping in deep dark. The swatting of morning flies. The slowing down of life.
And it was there, in that village, in that vulnerable memorable moment, we met Tom. The unnatural binding of souls. The remaking of family.
Because it’s in vulnerability that we learn to love different.
We’ve been made new through our shared journey with Uganda.
And now. All this time later the story has shifted time and place. It is his first trip here. Ronald, the man whose hut held us. We are receiving the one who received us. In our home. With our food. With our daily routine. And we find deep joy in this giving back. This returning of love and hospitality.
Us cooking in their kitchen.
Them cooking in our kitchen.
Ronald tying his son to my back in the village.
Ronald tying Tessa’s baby to her back in our home.
Ronald with my oldest at his home.
Ronald with my youngest at our home.
And now. All this time later, Tom is completing his time in our village. And we are preparing to send him to Uganda. Just like so many did for us. And like them, we weep. Because the separating is just so hard.
And now. All this time later, our family is once again preparing for a trip to Uganda in May. One month. Five kids. And a baggage full of memories of a place we called home.
We’ve come full circle in this journey of sending and receiving. This going and coming in the name of Jesus. And the ring of love around our heart is a symbol of this covenant relationship we share with this special people, this special land.