With only a couple of days left in Gulu, I was struggling to find a worthy use for a last-minute Vigilante contribution I’d picked up at Western Union. I didn’t have time for a big project like tracking down more shoes. My other problem was that I didn’t know of any other needs that could be met immediately. I was at a loss.
That morning I found myself praying a familiar prayer. God, what do you want me to do today? Help me not to plant tomatoes for hippos. Tell me what to do with this money and I’ll do it. The longer I’d been in Uganda, the more to the point my prayers had become and the sloughing off of any formalities when I talked to God was something I hoped to hold tight to when I returned home.
Out at the school that day, I overheard one of the teachers talking about a field trip the Senior 4 and Senior 6 kids would be taking to Murchison Falls during the upcoming third term. I’d visited Murchison Falls last year and it was staggeringly powerful-the beauty and pounding force of the water rushing into the Nile is something I’ll remember my entire life. I overheard the teacher saying that many of the kids wouldn’t be able to go on the field trip because they couldn’t afford the trip across the country to visit the falls. Many of the kids haven’t ever been more than ten miles away from home. To visit something across the country would be an incredible luxury.
“I’d like to help you with that,” I interrupted the conversation. ”I can’t help all of the kids, but this will send five on the trip,” I counted out the Vigilante shillings and took my receipt. The teacher thanked me as did the others in the office. ”I can’t take the credit. The money came from people back home-people who love to travel, so I know this would make them happy.”
It’s the third term now and the kids haven’t taken the trip yet. I wait with anticipation to hear about them hiking to the top of the falls and feeling the mist kiss their faces. I wait to hear about what animals they saw and how it felt to hear the thunder of the Nile passing through the waterfall.
Sitting in my living room, across the great wide world from these children I love so dearly, I hope that Murchison Falls will water their desire to travel more, to meet people who are vastly different from themselves, to find family in unexpected places and perhaps even to know the profound blessing of being able to call another country home.