April 10, 2007
Jinja, Uganda

Dear friends and family,

I apologize for not writing last week.  I would have if I had not been on a safari!  ;-) 

We spent Sunday night at a youth hostel in Kampala and then left early Monday for the 7-hour trip up to a camp right by Murchison Falls, in Northern Uganda, bordering the Congo.

Tuesday morning, we woke up bright and early and headed down to the river.  We crossed the Nile as the sun was rising.  Once safely over, we piled into our van and took off, chasing animals across the African Savannah.  (Yeah, I kind of like saying that ;-)  )

I couldn’t decide if the fact that the van had a roll-cage freaked me out or made me feel safe! J  Also, for our comfort and safety, our guide carried a rifle.  I thought that it was in case of animal attack, but I found out later that a stray bullet, fired by rebels, hit a man traveling through the same area about a month ago.  Interesting…

As we drove further out, we came across many giraffe, baboons, hippos, elephants, a couple of lions, many warthogs, and a few types of wild deer, among others. I had to close my eyes a few times and let sink in the fact that I was in Africa looking at a REAL giraffe or elephant.  I still can’t believe the amazing opportunity I’ve been given!

We spent the afternoon on the Nile, passing crocodile, hippos, other water animals, and looking at all of the birds.  That night, we had a hippo anxious to share our tent.  We kindly turned him away.   Oh yes, and we had a little family of warthogs running around our camp the whole time.  The tents were thick canvas and each housed two people.  Caitlin and I were very careful to snake-proof our tent before going to sleep!

I am a little disappointed that we didn’t see any big snakes.  We do have snakes around the baby cottage, but nothing over maybe 18-inches. 

We hiked up to Murchison Falls on Wednesday before making the long trip back to Kampala, and from there, to Jinja. 

I came away with a greater respect for God and His amazing creation.  After living in the States, spending time in Germany and now being here in Africa, I am amazed at the different cultures and the individual beauty of each country.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life here and the need to be constantly on my guard.  I think I even told my brother last week that one thing I miss about home is being able to let my guard down.  In so many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, one must be extremely careful.  In the food we eat here, the water we drink, the people we interact with, we must always use extreme discretion.

The more I thought about it, the more God impressed on me that this caution should be something I use a little more at home.  I think the “life on the edge” mentality is one that we don’t have in America because of the lack of danger and the over-abundance of pleasures and comfort.

I haven’t ever needed to think about the ice-cubes in my drink or the food I purchase at the market containing unwanted creatures.  Those are just a couple of the small, “surfacey” things.  The most important thing I’ve been impressed with lately is the need to always be on guard spiritually.  As I have heard others say, the spiritual warfare here in Africa seems to be a little more obvious.  In America, we have such a comfortable life which makes it rather easy to go along without really “needing” God, or so we think.  It’s easy to coast through life because we have the best of everything at our fingertips.  When life is about survival, as it is in most cases here, God’s hand, protection and provision is so much more evident.  I think we, as Christians in America, don’t give the enemy enough attention or thought – making his job a whole lot easier.

Anyway, I’ve been struck with the thought that being on guard is important not only here in Africa but also in America.  When one is not aware of danger, it doesn’t occur to them to guard against it.  That might sound very obvious and simple, but it’s been something I’ve been thinking about.  I need to keep my eyes open and realize that there’s so much more than I expect or understand. 

I worked a full shift in the Toddler house today.  We read many stories and sang all 99 verses of “The Wheels on the Bus.”  We were blessed to have a British woman here last month, teaching the preschoolers.  I am very much aware of the gap she’s left… one I’d love to fill if I were staying longer.  Hmmm….

I pray you’re all well.  Once again, my sincere thanks for the wonderful letters!  I haven’t had much time on the Internet so I apologize for not replying to each one individually.

Letters mean so much more than words could ever express, so thank you, and please keep writing.

Love you all!
In His hands,

 

Joy and Kathryn   and that Safari vehicle with the “roll-cage” J

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