The (A)Frican Mountain

A few days ago I posted on facebook promising a blog post about one of the most exhausting experiences of my life. Here it is.

If you haven’t caught on from all of my posts about sickness and travel…I travel and get sick a lot. This post is not an exception from either of those topics.

We traveled out to the eastern region and it’s a 9-hour drive (about 4 to Kampala and 5 to Mbale from Kampala). The travel was pretty brutal and we were tired, but we made it. The negative thing was that this was a long trip and near the beginning (just before we left and once we arrived) I had noticed my left ear feeling odd (the one which is almost always infected). Sure enough, this was my 7th or 8th ear infection since I’ve been here (I’ve honestly lost count). So the trip started out with a bit of a damper.

I have the word “joy” tattooed on my left wrist in Greek, but that didn’t keep Satan from coming way too close to stealing my joy right at the beginning of the mission. However, God provided time and time again.

On Saturday morning (after a night of sleeping in the front of the van because of no space on beds in a school and only getting about 3 hours of sleep), I found out I was going to Sironko, a place where I had said I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go there because I was under the impression that it was a lot of walking and with how sick I had been, it seemed like a bad idea. However, I asked the student whose place we were visiting if it was a lot of walking and he said “there’s walking, but it’s not a lot.” I had been in the other group not going to this place, but the student had fought for me to go to his place…I had a hard time saying no.

The road was long and tiring and finally we arrive to the first place we’re visiting and it’s so steep that the van couldn’t carry us up and we had to get out and climb and then near the top of each hill, push the van. This wasn’t even the start of our “short” walk.

I asked how long the walk was to find out how long I’d be in the sun and if I needed sunscreen. The student replied that it was about an hour’s walk, so I said I didn’t think I’d need sunscreen, since that’s about my limit…he said he thought it might be a good idea to use anyway (which should have been a hint).

We parked the van in the trading center and then began our walk up the mountain.

About 30-45 minutes into the walk, a student heard one of the locals we were walking with say there was about an hour left. I asked the student if he had deceived us and he said that the locals were wrong. An hour into the walk we heard there was an hour and a half to two hours remaining, I asked him again if he had deceived us and he said that he knew we would have complained and not wanted to come if he had told us. I told him that did not justify lying and told him I had asked about the journey because I was sick and shouldn’t have been making that kind of trek. He apologized and repented. A bit later I felt the need to apologize to him for my bitterness as God restored my joy and showed me both how ridiculous and how awesome this all was.

We did have women and children meeting us at different stages (starting about an hour in) who would climb with us and sing songs as well to encourage us. They certainly helped whether I realized it at the time or not. The walk ended up being about 3.5 hours total up. Then we were greeted by tons of happy people singing and lots of passion juice (so good…I may have drank too much). We were told that I was the first white person to ever go up that mountain (it’s about two mountains away from Mt. Elgon which is the more known one in the range and more likely climbed). That was an odd but kinda cool thought.

We had “lunch” around 5pm and then went to sleep a bit after (around 8 something) just to have dinner for breakfast at 4am. We then trekked back down the mountain (what was supposed to only be 30 minutes on this route) which actually took an hour and a half (at least) and started in the dark…so I almost walked into a cow and almost fell a couple of times. Quite a way to wake up.

However, God sustained us this whole time and gave us the energy…though my legs are still recovering.

Sadly, I have no pictures to show for this trip, but the memory is certainly there.

One of the guys commented that after this and a few other experiences that have happened on our missions, that I am certainly ready to face any mountain in marriage…though those are a bit different. We’ll see if he’s ready. Hearing that he felt I was doing it for Lesley also did give me an extra push of determination that I didn’t mind.

The experience was frustrating and difficult, but as my friend Andy regularly asks, “What makes a better story?”

I’m glad to have this story to tell.

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