For the last couple of days of our trip to Uganda, we talked a lot about “re-entry” into our everyday lives – what that might look like and feel like once we got home to our families. We talked about jet lag and the best way to move through it. We talked about how it takes time to process everything we saw and heard and experienced. And we talked about how it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by it all.
And make no mistake: for the first week that I was back at home, I was Officially Overwhelmed.
It’s not that I felt guilty that we live smack-dab in the middle of suburbia. At least I don’t think that was it. And it’s not that I wanted to sell all of our earthly possessions and give all the money to the poor and go live in a slum in the middle of Kampala, Uganda. I still had the wherewithall to recognize that God has a specific calling on my family’s life right here where we are.
But the first morning after our return trip – after sleeping for about four hours and then tossing and turning for the next three – I finally got out of bed around 4:45 and decided I’d make a pot of coffee.
And do you know what happened? I turned on the kitchen faucet. And water – clean, drinkable water – poured out of it. I could’ve let that water run all day if I wanted to.
It made me cry.
In fact, it made me cry a lot. So much so that I have started to refer to that particular time as Tuesday: The Day Of All The Crying.
The simplest things – water from a faucet, aisles of food at the grocery store, heat blasting out of our floor vents – left me sort of dumbstruck by the sheer abundance of it all.
But slowly, gradually, I’ve started to work through the process of figuring out what our experiences in Uganda are going to mean in the context of my everyday life. I feel like I’ve started to find my way again. And even though it feels strange sometimes to see the world through the lens of a vastly changed perspective, I’m so grateful for this new vantage point. I feel like our Uganda trip made me take off my suburban blinders.
The temptation, of course, is to gradually put the blinders back on. Because truth be told, I have moments where I feel like I’ve just about worn myself out with the Deeply Reflective Analysis Of The Poverty, and I wonder sometimes if the next step isn’t just to Push Through This Thing and Move On.
But the kicker is that I can’t.
And on top of that? I don’t want to.
Because ultimately, the trip to Africa has given me a completely unexpected desire to DO SOMETHING, ALREADY. And the bottom line is that I don’t want for the extent of this trip’s aftermath to be that I have some really cool pictures in iPhoto now, and oh, by the way, let me show you my sassy Ugandan earrings.
It has to go deeper than that.
And so I pray that what I saw and felt and heard on our trip will continue to impact my life, my family’s life, in ways we can’t ignore. I pray that somehow those experiences will continue to impact the lives of the children around the world who so desperately need our help.
I pray that I’ll know what to do next.
Because sitting here and pretending that poverty doesn’t exist? It’s no longer an option in our house.
So re-entry? Yep. Done it. Check that off the list. I am once again a functioning, (fairly) well-rested member of American society. I can even turn on the water in my kitchen without crying.
But ultimately, is the trip to Uganda over?
Nope. No way.
Not even close.
And Lord willing, it never will be.