I have been putting off writing anything about my trip for 2 weeks now. It's not because I don't want to share with you - it's because I know that I do not have words to adequately describe the experience or Uganda and her people. But I have to share, so I'll do my best. The only way I can think to even begin is just to go day by day of the trip and see how it goes. So...HERE WE GO!
I was a wreck for two days before we left over leaving Silas so I had Justin take him to my in-laws house on Friday afternoon so I could say goodbye to him at home and not have to try to keep my composure in a public place. Justin came back after dropping him off and we loaded up my two 48.8lb bags (whew!) and my carry-ons and headed to Outback for a little date. It was fun and a good way to send me off - nothing super sad or rushed - just a fun dinner out. After
dinner he dropped me at a hotel near the airport where I met up with Kimberly, Faith, and Anne. I could have stayed at home that night but since my flight was at 6am and I had to be there at 4am I didn't want to have a rushed, emotional goodbye in the airport.
I wish I had taken a picture of all of the bags in our hotel room! We each had 2 huge checked bags and then 2 carry-ons as well. We could barely move in our room! We went to bed around 10:30pm but NONE of us slept a wink. We were basically just laying there dreaming of Africa
and waiting for 3:30am to roll around so we could get up. :)
We got two cabs to take us to the airport and we got there right at 4am. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to us, the United Airlines employees don't come in to work until 4:30am so we had to stand in line with all of our luggage for 30 minutes before they were even open. Thankfully though we were near the front of the line so we didn't have to wait long once 4:30am rolled around. We checked our bags (PRAISE THE LORD all of them were 48 and 49lbs!!) and headed to security where we ran into Tabatha Coffey. We made it through security fairly quickly and with just a little bit of stress and made it to our gate.
We flew from Atlanta to Dulles in Washington, DC and it was there that I met my incredible team for the first time.
Y'all. I seriously cannot tell you how much I love every single person that was on this Visiting Orphans team. It was so apparent, even from our first conference call, that God was hand-picking each of us for this team. Every person gave selflessly of themselves and stepped up when needed the whole time. It was such a blessing to be a part of the whole. My heart has been aching since I have been home for these people.
Our first group picture (minus Jeff) in the Dulles airport - we didn't even know each other!!
We boarded our plane in DC and traveled about 13ish hours to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The flight was great (well, as great as a flight that long can be) but I didn't sleep for even a nanosecond. I watched lots of movies and walked around and met lots of interesting people.
Everyone keeps asking me if I saw any ___(insert stereotypical African animal here)___, and I can honestly say that I saw a monkey within 2 minutes of being off the plane in Addis. While we were riding the airport van to our next terminal a monkey ran across the tarmac in front of the
bus. It was in some kind of trouble because there was a rather large bird that was chasing it and kept swooping down to peck at it. I just had to laugh!
We still had one more flight before we got to our final destination of Uganda, but everyone was so happy to be off of the plane and so excited to be in Africa at all that we couldn't even rest in the Addis airport - we just chatted it up while we waiting for boarding to start for our final plane.
When we finally landed in Entebbe, Uganda (I don't even remember what time it was - early afternoon maybe??) we had to get out visas and then gather all of our luggage (32 BIG bags).
***Side story*** When I went to get my Visa the agent asked me how long I was staying in
Uganda and I said 12 days. She looked me over real good and said, "I give you for 3 months. I think you will love Uganda." Made my day! :)
Here we are gathering bags in Entebbe
Once we got all of our bags it was time to load them on the bus and head to Jinja. Julius and Abus (drivers for Canaan's) were there to greet us and help us load everything.
Me and Shelby - first picture in Uganda! We were soooo tired and dirty but happy to be there!
The trip to Jinja was supposed to take about 2 1/2 hours (HA!) but instead it took us 5. We stopped at a petrol station before we left Kampala and we saw this tree filled with Grey-Crested Cranes in the middle of the city. Those cranes are the national bird of Uganda and they are everywhere.
We finally made it to Jinja and the Kingfisher Resort on Lake Victoria that would be our home for the night and following morning. Absolutely gorgeous!
We had a wonderful meal as a team at the outdoor restaurant and then everyone headed to bed. I don't think any of us needed to be rocked to sleep that night (or any other night in Uganda for that matter)!
The next morning I woke up to a gorgeous day and I was refreshed and ready to head to Canaan's and love on some kids! But first we had breakfast at Kingfisher and then we got to take a beautiful boat ride to the source of the Nile River.
Some of the team in the 2nd boat
My feet in the Nile River :)
This is the actual Source. The Nile is fed by both Lake Victoria and underground springs that bubble up and cause the water to look as if it is boiling.
Someone a long time ago erected a concrete tower thingy on a little island at the source. We got to visit the island and of course I had to climb on top of the little tower...in a dress. :)
With Bret, Diana, and Simon - LOOK AT US! WHERE AT THE SOURCE OF THE NILE! ;)
After our boat ride it was time to sort all of our donations (almost all 32 bags were for donations) before we could head out to Canaan Children's Home. I wish I had more pictures of this. We had clothes, markers, crafts, glue, glitter, shoes, books, pull-ups, and sports equipment out the wazoo! It was so exciting!
Once we got everything sorted we loaded the bus to head to Canaan's - our home...