In early September, 2003, when the Lord laid it on me to go to Uganda to help in Soroti, Dave and I were very certain it was right, but we were both very intense and concerned. It was slightly more than 2 months before I left. Among everything else, we had gone to a lawyer to update our wills.
On November 12th, when I was leaving, Dave, of course, took the day off work. After I checked in, we walked around the airport for over an hour, arms around each other. We knew I was called to go; we didn't know if I would be back. We were both a bit teary.
Now, move forward to my last weekend in Soroti.
On Friday, January 16th, I was offered by several of my pastors -- different churches and denominations, different ministry organizations-- the opportunity to go with them to Anyara, a distant camp. Joseph, Joseph, George, Job, John and Justin would leave early Saturday morning. They planned to preach the Gospel and give food and clothing, including all the clothes that were piled in my office. I would have been the only non-Ugandan person. I was excited. What a blessing to be in the back of a big lorry with all this stuff and my dear pastor-friends!
Then I noticed the look on my "son" Pastor Joseph's face. He didn't say anything in front of everyone, but he was obviously displeased. A few minutes later, I took him outside the office and asked why he had that expression. He said the rebels are often located and reports are spread about as quickly as possible, but haven't been clearly noticed in that area. He finished with, "If you go with us, and we are attacked, and you die and I live, I will have to send you home to my new 'dad' Dave in a wood box. That would not make any of us happy."
Because of Joseph's strong care for me, I chose to obey him and not go.
After their return late Saturday evening, even though there was no war danger, they showed a great deal of stress and sorrow.
When their story was told, I was glad I didn’t go to Anyara. It took them a total of about 9 hours for their ministry event to drive there, preach, show love, distribute the piles off the truck, and drive home. It was a devastating experience: 14,280 people in the camp, 1 partially-working bore [water] hole, 1 non-working one. Believe me, people weren't just lining up outside the truck. They were piling and diving over each other, grabbing and grasping. The pastors were forced to toss everything out to the people; they could only hope the most needy would be recipients. They hadn't known beforehand that the water was so limited, the camp was so large, the people so destitute. They were highly saddened by what they saw, how little they could help, how many were suffering beyond what even they had imagined.
If I had been there I would have been extremely distraught, so I’m glad I listened to God, through Joseph, and obeyed.
Two weeks later, January 30th, Dave arrived. My two Josephs had come from Soroti -- about 150 miles -- to Kampala where I was staying, to take me to the Entebbe airport. Not as planned, we spent the whole day together. Dave was about 14 hours late, because even though it was hot in Uganda, it was icy and stormy in England, so the plane couldn't leave on time. My "J"s met him at midnight, shortly after he arrived. But I was first, believe me. Even in public, I had thrown myself at him and hugged and kissed him so much they needed to stay out of the way. But they just grinned, and then met him, took us to our hotel, visited for an hour...and thanked him for me. How kind!
Today, I still most certainly miss my pastors, my dear friends, my protectors. So kind and caring.