Happy New Year! It is January 1, 2017 in Uganda! I think my body is not quite sure what I am doing to it! I adjust well to any type of “jet lag” because I was taught long ago to start functioning in the time zone you are going to instead of looking at the time zone I left. Yet, this time I was also dealing with an overnight New Year’s Eve service that would keep me awake from 9:00 pm - 5:00 am!
Adding to this dilemma was my journey from LAX to Uganda turned out to be a little longer than expected. We were about 30-45 minutes late departing. Then when we approached Dubai, the weather did not permit us to land immediately. We were kept circling in the air an additional 30-45 minutes. We landed in very thick fog and I momentarily forgot I was in Dubai not London! The good news was it cut down my layover at the airport to only six hours! Emirates has a policy that they provide a free hotel room only if your flight is over eight hours. Oddly enough, my layover was scheduled for 7 hours 55 minutes! Saved a hotel room for them but left me without a place to lay my head. But because of the delay, I had two less hours to have to wander! The time passed quickly but I didn’t get any sleep. I am just thankful I didn’t do any sleep walking!
I was suppose to be in seat 34A on my flight from Dubai to Entebbe. However, once I got to my row, a nice Ugandan couple were already in place and the woman seemed to enjoy sitting next to the window. I took the seat 34C and was glad to be in the aisle. The gentleman’s name was David, a retired teacher from Kampala. We had great conversations! He wanted to know about my journey and about Raining Hope. They were a very bright spot on the last leg of my journey. They were very encouraging and confirmed the good work that we are doing for the children. As we left the baggage claim area, I was able to meet some of this other family members who were also on the same flight but scattered throughout the plane. He was also able to meet Godfrey which truly blessed me.
Whenever we start our initial descent into Entebbe, my heart always starts to quicken and I begin getting so excited. As soon as the wheels touch down on the tarmac, I become very emotional and being to tear up. There is something about the moment that I enter back onto Ugandan soil.
The airport is going under major renovations and improvements. Each time I come, there is something that is new and improved. But this time it caused some disorganization in the flow of the health check area (checking for yellow fever health cards) and passport control. I have an uncanny way of picking the wrong line and today was no different! My line seemed to be the only one that was not moving! After a long wait, and ALL the other lines moving along just fine, the agent brought some of us over to the “Ugandans Only” line which only seemed appropriate for me!
Even retrieving the luggage was an issue. Because two large flights arrived at the same time, there were no luggage carts available which has never happened before! We had to wait until more were brought in. Have you ever had that feeling inside when you just want to get to where you want to go but it is beyond your control?! It was as if I was in my own movie and everything was moving in slow motion. All I wanted to do was say at the top of my lungs, “I just want to get outside to where Godfrey is waiting!”
I finally was able to exit the baggage claim area. I am always looking in the crowd at the sea of faces. Some are hotel transportation people holding signs with passenger’s names. Some are friends and family looking for their loved ones. Then it is as if the sea parts and Godfrey’s face emerges from the crowd SMILING the biggest smile imaginable! It is this moment that I feel so welcomed back to this place I call my Ugandan home!
I usually pack snacks in my bag to eat on the long drive back to Jinja. This way we don’t have to stop until chicken on a stick! Godfrey has come to depend on those snacks! This time I brought some of my homemade banana bread and cookies I made for Christmas. He has come to love the banana cake at the hotel so I thought he would enjoy trying my banana bread. You would have thought that I won the “Master Chef” contest! Godfrey also said, “I have a surprise too!” He brought my favorite “Stoney” soda which is basically a very strong ginger ale. He had it waiting in the van for our drive home.
We made the stop for chicken on a stick and roasted bananas. This is a couple of hours into the drive. That is why the banana bread and cookies come in handy! It always makes things official when we make this traditional stop! By time we arrived at the hotel it was close to 7:30 pm. Because of traffic through Kampala it took close to five hours to get to Jinja! Godfrey wanted to drop me off at the hotel to unload the luggage. He first went to the house while I was unpacking and them came back to get me.
It was a welcomed sight to see Christmas lights up at the hotel! By arriving before the New year, I was still able to enjoy the Christmas tree in the lobby! Normally, by January 1st or 2nd all evidence of Christmas decorations have already gone back into storage for another year!
When we drove back to the house, we waited outside the gate for at least five minutes! I could hear giggling and movement on the other side of the gate and knew they were up to something. Once the gate was opened, it was a picture I will not soon forget! They had just finished Friday night Bible study for the community. So the sound equipment was still set up. Some were playing instruments while the rest were all lined up singing, smiling, waving & jumping! They were welcoming me with the song, “How Great is Our God!” The first hugs when I exit the van are always the best! You can’t help but feel the love of God when you are embraced by our Raining Hope family!
This was overwhelming in itself but I found they had more planned! We started to head inside the house, but Tabitha & Florence were assigned to keep me back. It took a few minutes, but I watched as the children formed two lines for me to pass through in order to enter into the house. Once inside they erupted in praise and dance! They had decorated the walls with “Happy New Year,” and “Welcome Mom Kisakye!” It was such a beautiful sight. Each time I come, they welcome me in a different way. But it is always based on LOVE and HIS JOY that just fills their hearts.
We only spent a short time together before I headed back to the hotel for the night. We spent time thanking the Lord that we could be together to thank Him for the past year and looking forward to the new year. I will talk more about this in the upcoming updates. The time was short but very sweet that first night. When I got back to the hotel, the traveling of the first day caught up with me. I entered the room, laid down on the bed for a moment to thank God, and next thing I knew it was morning!
New Year’s Eve and New Years Day were glorious! That is the story that awaits you in the next update!
Happy New Year!
Mama Eydie Kisakye
|Chicken on a Stick!|
|Stopping for Chicken on a Stick|
|Welcome home sign!|
|Happy New Year From Raining Hope!|
|Ronald without walking sticks!|