Yes, forty days from today, Lord allowing, I will step off a plane at DFW International Airport onto American soil -- or in this case, most likely, American carpet. I will have been away from the United States of America for 390 days. So is there anything I'm really looking forward to experiencing again? Any people that I can't wait to see? Well, naturally.
I am really looking forward to:
- Seeing Jenni, Jonathan, & Noah the moment I get off the plane. (Okay, the moment I get off the plane, go through customs, and ride down the escalator. But you know what I mean.)
- Seeing everybody else from home. (Forgive me for not naming you individually, because I love you all so dearly and can't wait to see you, but I need to keep this list to a semi-manageable length.)
- Going to my first RHCC worship service. And my second. And my third...you get the idea. Worshipping with family and friends.
- Sonic. Everything.
- Driving a car with the steering wheel on the correct side of the car. Driving on the RIGHT side of the road.
- Wal-Mart! Woohoo!
- DVDs for sale that are NOT pirated copies. Ditto for CDs, although, now that I think about it, I've hardly seen any CDs here.
- Squirt. (It's a soda. You should try it.)
- Going out in public and not once hearing myself referred to as Mzungu. Now I don't really mind being called Mzungu -- after all, I am Mama Mzungu -- but not everyone here says it politely. And I find it odd that when I'm shopping in the market, often the people trying to get me to buy from them will say it quite rudely.
- Roads with no potholes. Roads with stop signs and traffic signals. (Well, technically, what I need to say here is "Stop signs and traffic signals that drivers actually obey." You will occasionally see a stop sign or traffic light in Kampala, the capital city. But no one pays any attention to them.)
- Salads. Right now, even iceberg lettuce sounds good.
- A store that has new clothes available in assorted sizes.
- How could I forget? TARGET! If you've never been to Africa, it's hard to explain how different the stores are here. The stores in Mbale tend to be small, dark, and, well, dirty. Here's a story that might help you understand: Shawn and Linda Tyler, senior members on the team, once took James and Noeli Luchivya (Africans from Kenya who serve with us here in Uganda) to the States. During their visit, the Tylers and the Luchivyas happened to go to Target. Noeli walked in the door, took one look around the beautiful store with its good lighting, big aisles, and spotless, gleaming floors, and asked nervously, "Should I take my shoes off?"
- Not experiencing culture stress every time I walk out my front door. Okay, everyone tells me I'm going to go through reverse culture stress, but I'll believe it when I see it. I don't think I'm going to cry the first time I walk into Ross Dress for Less...unless it's tears of joy.
- Stable electricity/water/Internet. And water pressure. (Washers that fill in less than an hour, showers with more than six pitiful streams of water -- wow!)
- A Pizza Hut Meat Lovers pizza, extra cheese, delivered right to my door.
- The spice/seasonings aisle at the grocery store. Ditto for the packaged meals aisle.
- Microwave popcorn. (You can get it here sometimes, but it's EXPENSIVE.)
- Watching a DVD on any screen larger than a computer screen.
- Store-bought grated cheddar cheese. Pitted olives. Raisins with no seeds.
- Chili's, Applebee's, Chinese buffets, Mexican restaurants, Italian restaurants.
- Dollar stores (Boy, am I going to hit them before I come back to Uganda.)
- Not having to answer my door if I don't want to. (Just take my word for it. It's almost impossible to hide out, at least here in Welldone Cottage.)
- An oven that heats to the temperature you set it at.
- Homemade Chex Mix.
I could go on for quite a while, but this is probably a nice representative list. Look over the list again for a second, especially items 4 through 30. Do you see anything noteworthy?
Everything on that list after No. 3 is completely and totally unimportant. It's trash. It's rubbish. I mean, getting to serve the Lord here with the Mbale Mission Team is so cool, so exciting, how can microwave popcorn or Target compete with that?
Now you ask, what about Items 1, 2, and 3? All of you, my family, friends, and church? Ah, you are incredibly important. You sent me out with your blessing. I'm so excited to come back to see you all. I get to spend forty days with you. And then? Well, as the Lord allows, I will leave you once more (hopefully again with your blessing), and we will all praise God that he has allowed me to give you up -- those whom I love dearly in the US -- so that I may serve Him for one more year with those whom I love dearly in Uganda.
I know I've quoted it before, but it still says it all: Philippians 3:7-10 "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."