Nine days from today, I will be headed for Uganda, Africa with a medical mission team. Obviously, I'm not a doctor.. or a nurse.. or medical assistant. In fact, the most medical experience I've got is applying Band-Aids and administering small amounts of medicine to young children. For at least 7 years I have imagined and prayed about traveling to Africa to document a mission trip. I'm still in disbelief that this dream will become reality in less than two weeks. This post, and any others that are posted before our trip begins will likely be more personal, but the goal of this blog is to help journal the stories that bloom on this journey.. whether they are mine, another missionary's, or one of the Ugandan's I meet along the way.
The preparation for a trip like this is pretty involved. For myself.. it started over a year ago. In May 2012, the team was getting ready to go on the 2012 trip and I had decided I wanted to go the following year. I talked briefly to my husband about it, and he said we'd have to find someone to watch the kids before we could even consider moving forward. I called up my sister-in-law and talked to her about it, and a month later she bravely agreed to care for my kids. There has been a lot of prayer and discussion over the last year. A lot of brainstorming and "vision sessions," trying to figure out the best way I can document a trip like this. In the end, I believe God will give me what He wants to be seen and heard. It's up to me to be maleable and empty of myself, so that whatever comes is simply... God.
Team preparation has been happening too. The team has had meetings since November/December 2012. Meetings about medical supplies, types of clinics that can be held, up-to-date passports, visas, plane tickets, vaccinations, what to pack, what not to pack.. the list goes on and on.
One of the big discussion items at these meetings is of course finances. The biggest fundraiser we had was a Gourmet Dessert & Silent Auction event held at New Life Church in the World Prayer Center. This year, Dr. Patrick Opio, a surgeon from Lira, Uganda - one of the cities we'll be serving in - was the special guest speaker. He shared a few of the stories from the war-torn area of Uganda in which he works, often withholding gory details for our sakes. The strength in his testimony astonished me. Here was a man who had actual faith in God.. a faith that could be felt all throughout the auditorium that night.
Dr. Patrick Opio
It may have been the biggest of our fundraising events, but the Dessert Buffet & Silent Auction wasn't the only one. There were others. For example, my church has eight members going to Uganda this summer, and they held a benefit concert to help us raise funds to pay for it.
Mr. Tony Ray
The Wilfong Family
Jody Adams and the String Dudes
My own personal Mary Kay consultant, Renee, had a party for me on International Women's Day and donated all of her profits to help us go. Mark, owner of borrowlenses.com, saw my fundraising letter and has offered any equipment I need, saving me almost a thousand dollars in equipment rentals. Some of my latest photo sessions were done for donations to the trip as payment instead of my normal fee. These are the fundraisers I was involved in, but I'm only one of almost 30 people... so imagine all that work.. times 20 or 25...
And there is more preparation ahead. Tonight is the Packing Party. We will meet one last time to pack the 75 some odd bags we'll be taking full of medical supplies and donations. And then... we're off!
Uganda has gone from being a country I had hardly heard of to a daily thought. As the departure date draws nearer, it is almost constantly on my mind. I am so grateful that God has given me this opportunity. I have never been on a mission trip before. People who come home from these trips are often unable to express what it is that happens there. I'm going to do my very best to bring this experience home. To accomplish this, my focus will be on God, and my prayers will be never ceasing.