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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Leaving home, going home

Therein lies the dilemma-- a week in Bundibugyo felt like home. Yet the eastward trek towards our children (mostly), our work, friends, dogs, bed .... All feels like being homeward bound too. Perhaps a reminder that reality lies in a different Kingdom dimension, interweaving the deep green warmth of Uganda with the crimson sunset joys of Kenya.

Actually in the last 24 hours of travel, heading to a Heavenly home seemed all too near.

We rose before 6 to gather the summer interns/ visitors ( 8 of the 9, plus us made 10) for the epic Bwamba pass hike over the northern shoulder of the Rwenzori mountains. Josh drove us to the foot of the path, and we embarked on the quest to walk to Fort Portal. I've done this probably I a half dozen times now. But I was a few years younger, and always with a few fellow slowpokes rather than Scott and a bunch of college aged cross country runners. The day dissolved into bright clarity as we climbed, greeting each little cluster of homes as we passed, chatting, breathing, pausing to sip water or catch breath. The path is Bakonjo style--straight up about 5 to 6 thousand feet into the old growth forest and bamboo on the ridge, then straight back down about 3 to 4 thousand feet into a ravine on the other side. A distance of about 20-22 km. It is incredibly steep, and spectacularly beautiful. And I was gasping.

After the fist hour I said to myself " I have given birth to four babies and lived 20 years in Africa I am strong enough to do this, the kids may be fast but I have endurance". After the third hour I was praying " God please help me make this hike alive and I promise not to overestimate my abilities ever again."

In spite of extremely high heart rates it was a lovely day, and we all made it without any disaster. Which led to near death experience number two: five bodas for ten of us into town, about ten miles of exhilarating speed and fear for the responsibility for all our interns. We downed juice and water and food and rested, then spliT off from the group to go visit with Pat for the night.

Pat has truly brought beauty from ashes, resurrecting a home from the burned shell in Fort portal, gently empowering art and creativity in her projects, lovingly raising two orphan girls for whom she is guardian, rescuing and advising and persevering. What a taste of goodness to eat and talk and rest. But almost 11 pm the third threat arose: a rumble, a vibration, building into shaking and we knew we were in an earthquake. Woke Scott, he ran to unbolt the door while I tired to raise the kids out of bed. It lasted a long time. A second one awoke us again a few hours later.

And just to complete the return adventure, we missed the Link bus and ended up taking a matatu back to Kampala. Spurts of crazy speed, endless stops, trolling for passengers, dozens of people getting on and off. A rooster who was unhappy with his mode of transportation occasionally protested loudly from the seat behind. I dozed and prayed for survival. Near the end we relaxed enough to share an ear of crunchy charcoal roasted maize for breakfast. At the taxi park we wound our way though the crush of humanity and insistent hawkers and blaring vans and buzzing bodas for a few blocks until we found a taxi to hire to the airport. Last near disaster was our driver swerving to narrowly miss mowing down a pedestrian who ran into the road where he was driving at extreme speed.

So here we are, sipping Ugandan coffee after a caffeine deprived morning, about to say goodbye to this country for another while. But also about to hug our kids. Loss and gain, the paradox of the kingdom.

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