Sometimes, even though we really, really think that what we are doing is in line with God’s will, things get a little scary. When we use logic, we think things will go great. We have a good plan, we know all about Uganda, we trust God….right? But then, emotion can start to take the place of logic a little bit. What if we get to Uganda and can’t raise enough support to run The Mighty River Project. Or what happens if our kids hate it in Uganda. What about the stuff that we can’t control, like the political climate in Uganda, or disease or any other worst case scenario that pops into a husband/father’s mind.
Well, while on the vision trip, I had one of these moments where logically I knew everything was going to be fine, but I couldn’t keep my mind from thinking worst case scenario at least a couple of times. Brian, Fred and I were riding on Bodas. Bodas are motorcycle taxis. Each of us had our own Boda and driver. We set off from Main Street in Jinja, right at the foot of the local police station, to take a supposed fifteen minute ride out to a ministry in a village called Masese 1.
Riding on Bodas is tons of fun. I mean who wouldn’t love cruising down the road seeing view like this?
It is a great way to get in touch with the real Uganda. The sights, smells (good and bad!) and sensations of Africa are coming and going at a brisk 40 miles per hour as you scoot towards your destination. It’s a blast….until it isn’t.
So back to the story. The three of us were riding along, all within view of each other for a while. Then, for some reason, my driver decides to let Brian and Fred get quite a bit ahead of us. I keep asking him to speed up….catch up with the other two. We finally catch up because Brian and Fred arrived at the Boda stage (where all the drivers wait around for business) at Masese 1 and have spent some time asking for directions to the ministry we wanted to visit.
All three of us take off on our Bodas to our final destination,all following the leader, since he’s the only one that actually got the directions. As we get off of the main paved road, traveling up rutted out, rocky 30 degree inclines, I’m thinking to myself ‘Wow, this is awesome. I hope Brian doesn’t fall off the back of his Boda up there. He’s kind of looking precarious. I’m sure he’s fine. Plus, it seems like we’re almost there.’
Shortly thereafter things started to get really interesting. Brian and Fred turn off to the right, up ahead of me and my driver. I could see the back of Brian’s shirt disappear to my right just as my driver took the left hand fork. I tell him to turn around and go the other way, because that’s the way the other guys went. We turn around and follow, only to drive around for about 35 more minutes, lost….in the village…in Uganda….with no phone….with a stranger driving….who’s not being all that helpful….or asking for directions…..or really listening to me at all when I try to tell him we need to find the others.
It was at this point that the logical part of me, the part saying ‘Don’t worry, nothing bad is going to happen. This driver is just lost, and a little bit wacky, but nothing to worry about. Worst case scenario I can just get the driver to stop, pay him what I owe him for the ride, and find my way back to Jinja. Any other Boda driver I find, wherever I am, can surely get back to Jinja. Then I will meet up with Brian and Fred later tonight.’ That part got overtaken a little bit by fear. Just for a bit, but it happened.
I got worried. I stopped trusting myself and my driver and let the worry creep in. ‘What if this guy wants to separate from Brian and Fred so he can rob me? I mean, I have heard some bad stories about Boda drivers in the past. Man, how am I going to get back to Jinja with no money and no phone. What if we run out of gas out here in the middle of nowhere.’ I think the only logical thought going through my mind at this time was ‘Well, at least I’m the one separated from the group, not Brian. I’m sure he would be fine, but he would be even more worried than I am right now!’ Well, these worries lasted a good ten minutes. I finally convinced my driver to ask for our fifth or sixth set of directions to ‘the place where they take care of sick kids,’ and finally somebody seemed like they knew.
So we take a few more turns and head up a path just wide enough for us pass through. Great, I thought, there is no way that this is where I am supposed to be going. What is this guy thinking. He is driving up a path that nobody ever uses, probably to a place that is deserted, or at least nowhere I want to go.
We get to the gate of the house at the end of the path. I wander in and am greeted by a couple of kids. I ask for my contact at the ministry we are looking for and quickly find out that we were again in the wrong place. ‘What a mess,’ I think to myself.
And then it happened. The fear, nervousness and frustration melted away. It became so evident that I was in the exact place that God wanted me to be. I heard a voice behind me that I recognized. I spun around to see an old friend. A child that I think about probably once a week. The last time I saw him was in 2006 at the orphanage Erin and I worked at. I knew him well from the time Erin and I spent living in Uganda. My heart melted at seeing him. If I had been able to write down a top ten list of people I wanted to see on this vision trip, this eleven year old would have topped the list. And here I find him, as I drive around ‘lost’ in the village, 30 minutes away from my actual destination. He is in a great place, with people who love him and love Jesus. He is doing so well. I have never been so struck by God’s plans, even in the small things, than I was in that moment. The moment is still so surreal, I have trouble even believing it happened.
Well, my little friend from the past went to find one of the grown ups working at the ministry he now lives with. We got some decent directions and headed off. About five minutes later we find Brian and Fred, together, but lost as well. In the end we finally made it to our final destination and had a great time there.
It’s amazing to me what God taught me that day. How much joy he must have in planning joyful things for his children. I felt so much happiness in being reunited with an old friend after 5 years absence. How much more happiness and elation must God feel when we come back to him for eternity.
God’s plan is always right, and always good, even if it is sometimes a little bit scary. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t ever trade having that wonderful chance encounter with a long-lost friend for not having to have to fifteen minutes of fear and apprehension leading up to it. This is one of the things that we are going to try to keep in mind as we move forward with The Mighty River Project. Sometimes it will be easy and exciting and great, and sometimes it will get tough, or scary or frustrating, but we know that God gives wisdom to those who seek it. We would be crazy to trade God’s wisdom for our own.