My Afternoon Outside In The Nature

For the last couple of days of our trip we headed a little deeper into the heart of Uganda and visited a national park adjacent to Murchison Falls. At the time I didn’t understand why those two days were so important, but in retrospect it is perfectly clear that without that decompression period my head would have flown straight off of my body and would now be residing somewhere in the middle of Lake Victoria.

So the decompression time, it was good.

In fact, it was one of the most memorable, wonderful, hysterical, inspiring times of my whole life. I felt absolutely enveloped by God’s grace. For real.

The first afternoon we were there we made a trip to Murchison Falls. We had to take a short ferry ride, then a much longer (and bumpy) van ride, and I sort of expected that we’d tackle the falls like the Griswold family tackled the Grand Canyon in National Lampoon’s Vacation. We’d walk over to the edge, stare for a couple of seconds, snap a few pictures, then head back to the vans.

So you can imagine my surprise when I hopped out of the van and heard the following words: “we’re going to take a 45-minute hike.”



Y’all. I was wearing Crocs – which I intially thought would be quite sensible for standing on some dirt and looking at some water and stuff – and some very large, dangly hoop earrings. Not to mention my glasses.

So obviously I was dressed for the occasion.

We started up the first hill, and since I am by nature a pretty fast walker, my strategy was to get up the hill as quickly as possible. However, since the hill was at angle I’m approximating to be around 90 degrees, my speed was quickly diminished by the sheer effort of putting one foot in front of the other.

In fact, I was a little incredulous that I was being asked to climb this particular hill WITHOUT THE AID OF A ROPE, but I was bound and determined that I was not going to be the 30-something mama who couldn’t keep up with the rest of the pack.

And do you know how long I was “bound and determined”? For a full minute. Oh yes I was.

And when that minute was over? I looked back at Shannon, gasped for air, and said, “Gotta. Stop. Minute. Breathe.”

She looked at me and said, “Yes. Hard. Steep.”

And then I said, “May. Die.”

I’m telling you, we were right at home on the side of that mountain. Just like a couple of housecats in the middle of a rodeo.

Somehow we made it up to the top of the hill (MOUNTAIN? MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!), and we started a downhill trek that was fairly simple, except for the fact that there were a lot of rocks and we had to make our way down the rocks and THERE WEREN’T ANY RAILS OR ANYTHING.

Also: if you step in mud while wearing Crocs? The mud will seep into your Crocs. And it will be very squishy.

After about thirty minutes or sixteen hours, we finally made it to the falls. And oh, I must confess that the view was stunning. Even if I had to sweat and stuff to be able to see it.





By the way, I cannot believe that I just put a picture of me WEARING A BASEBALL CAP on the interweb. There is no question that my mama will be horrified. But I had to have something to protect my lily-white scalp from the blazing African sun. And I figured that my options were either a baseball cap or, you know, skin cancer. So I went with the cap.

I continue to stand by that decision.

Even if my head looks like a prize-winning melon.

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  1. Well written! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  2. I’ve seen WAY BIGGER melons. And I’m not just saying that to make you feel better.

    Another wonderful, inspiring post.

  3. Hey there… Well, I just wanted to say that the African fashion police had nothing on you – hoop earrings and crocs on a nature walk (now that’s an understatement). Wooo! Hooo! The pictures are stunning, I love that you can see the rainbow off the water! Thanks for sharing this spectacular view. Love and Hugs….

    It rained most of the day Saturday here in North Texas and we saw a VIVID and I do mean technicolor vivid full arching rainbow, and do you know what I think every time I see one? Somewhere in the middle of that is God’s Throne and there He sits unbeknownst to us glorying over His creation as screwed up as we’ve made it and saying – See What Beauty I’ve Created Just for You! Yes, indeedy, those leprachauns have nothing on our Great God… They claim a pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow, but I know the Golden Throne of Grace sits right in the middle of all that beauty and it is just enough for little old me!


  4. Wow–incredible. Well worth your near-death experience!

  5. WOW! God can really show off, huh!

  6. you know how to dress to kill, indeed! ;-)


  7. I just have to say I really love your shirt in that picture

  8. An Alabama girl in her Crocs in Africa. Classic!

  9. Not a THING wrong with baseball caps.

    I am a lot older than you are and I can rock a ball cap with a pony tail, my standard summer look. Really, so much so, when I go without one, folks don’t recognize me.

    Apparently I still think I am 12 years old.

    Love the pics and the post. Thanks for your journey!

  10. Bailey's Leaf says:

    Nah! Your noggin doesn’t look like a melon, but you do have that look of having just climbed a mountain with completely inappropriate footwear! At least you could wash all that squish out of your Crocs!

  11. Breathtaking! Definitely worth the effort you had to put forth!

  12. Ok, this has nothing to do with your post, but “a touch of the conjunctivitis”?

    I just came over from seeing the video at Shannon’s and oh my word y’all are funny.

  13. For what it’s worth, I think the ball cap looks pretty cute! I don’t know that I could have made a hike like that, especially in crocs. I’d have had to tell everyone that I’d wait for them in the van. Preferably in the air conditioned van. LOL.

  14. Donna (coaching in GA) says:

    I am sitting here reading your post and howling out loud!!! You crack me up! I love your willingness to be 100% vulnerable. It reminded me of the mission trip I took to Romania. On our last day, the local pastor who was hosting us thought it would be LOVELY for the team to take a “walk” up to the fort at the end of town. I quickly learned the definition of a “walk” in Romania was distinctly and significantly different from the American version of the same word. The “walk” that I was oh so familiar with didn’t involve dry heaves or sharp pains in the side. I huffed and puffed like the wolf in the famous kids’ story willing myself up that hill. Indeed, it was a LOVELY afternoon…as soon as we administered Oxygen to the Americans!

  15. Absolutely HILARIOUS post. Even my dh cracked up!!!!

  16. Just curious if you had any blisters from your croc-climbing (heeheehee :) encounter?

  17. I stand in agreement with Robin – that touch of conjunctivitis will be a moment in travel video history. Also – about the crocs – the best thing about the mud getting IN – it can get out again. You and Shannon look stunning – or is that stunned. You are the BEST sport – love the fashion run down too – I’m sure your earrings were the whole cause of uphill difficulties!

  18. I heart crocs! Thanks for the sweet post! Thankfully, God looks at the heart not the ball cap. But it looks just fine!

  19. Gorgeous! I loved the picture of you holding Sharon.

  20. “I am woman….hear me roar!!”

    Y’all are IT! I love these stories.
    And, they really happened….in Africa.

  21. Lordy, ya’ll even look cute in Africa!!!

  22. You know I adore any post that includes a Montel reference.

  23. You sure know how to put a smile on a gal’s face. Thanks, Sophie.

  24. i found your site through the uganda blogs and i love that we’re still getting to read uganda stories. i was glued & probably spending way more time at work checking yall’s blogs during the day than i should have. keep them coming!

  25. You crack me UP. I love reading your blog. :) I think I smile every time…seriously.

  26. You inspired me to sponsor a child…for me, the decision of who…was easy…3 years ago I had my first miscarriage…so in honor of that child, I am sponsoring a 3 year old, little girl (since I have all boys) from Kenya (because hubby is a Missionary Kid from Kenya). THANK YOU for bringing us all into your world and introducing us to Compassion!!!!

  27. Wonderin’ if you might have had a touch of “the recipe” for any discomfort caused by “the” conjunctivitis! Tears rolled down my face as I rewatched that jet-lagged, confined to a small space, duo. Thanks for sharing the silliness as well as the seriousness of your journey.

  28. You can take a “croc” gal to Africa, but you can’t take her outta her “crocs”..

    We internets appreciate you near-death experience so you could bring us that beautiful waterful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  29. A nice hike and a beautiful site, that only God himself could design, does the heart good.
    Thanks for sharing.

  30. You are a brave, brave woman. Isn’t it great when experiences like yours show you what you’re really made of? You did it and that’s got to be encouragement whenever you face any other “mountains” in life you’ll need to climb feeling unprepared!

  31. The picture of the falls with the rainbow is breathtaking! Just beautful! You and Shannon look just like the cute, fun-loving girls you sound like in your writings. Housecats at a rodeo!!! Prize-winning melon!!! Thanks for starting my day off with laughter!!

  32. Great story. And…it’s amazing how that decompressions is needed! And at the time you don’t even know.

  33. Thanks for sharing your stories. It has been a blessing to pray for you on the trip. The rainbow is beautiful. What a reminder of God’s love and provision.

  34. I’m going to have to go back and re-read this post, because I accidently scrolled to the bottom of the post and saw you wearing a baseball cap. It shocked me so that I was shaken to my very core. Wow. Baseball cap…Sophie. Wow. Known you for 20 years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Am I wrong?

    I told you you’d be changed by your trip to Africa, but how could I have ever know the changes would be so drastic? Hee.

  35. Daph –

    You are correct. I believe that I attempted to wear a baseball cap one time in college, but I think y’all may have laughed at me. And rightly so. Because as you know, I am not a girl who can pull off any sort of look that’s even remotely related to “jaunty athleticism.”

    The ballcap experience scarred me so that I tried a new look the next day. I’ll post pictures of that later. You will wet your pants when you see it.

  36. Wow! Beautiful shots…even with the cap!

  37. Just remember that those earrings, that hat and your alabaster skin (not to mention Shannon’s visor) probably scared away all the man-eating lions. See? You totally saved everyone from a near-death experience. They should all be thanking you and sending chocolate.

  38. You do indeed make me laugh. The pictures of the waterfall etc were beautiful. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  39. You are too funny with that story. Think of what great exercise that was!!! But what a reward at the end huh? And I’m sorry, but you look very cute in that ball cap – you should try it more often.

    The Falls – wow, how beautiful. And I bet decompression was needed. I can’t imagine the range of emotions you have and your travel mates experienced on this trip. What an experience.

    Thank you again for sharing it all with us, your faithful readers who love you, melon head or no. :)

  40. MMM, absolutely NOTHING worse than sunburn on your scalp!! Not that I would know from experience or anything, but the next day when it’s burning and simultaneously itching to beat the band, is pretty horrific. Then when it peals is even better…You go with the melon-inducing hat– way better than pain, itching, skin peeling! Besides, you had the earrings to set it off…

    I had a similar mountain experience on my missions trip to Haiti- only I climbed a mountain with my fellow, 18 year old nursing students- who were all in WAY better shape than me. When I finally got to the top, they were like, “We’ve been here an hour or so, we’re ready to go now!” After the red, floating spots stopped in my visual field, I made my way down, hurt for a week afterward, and vowed to only ascend heights on a ski lift ever after.

    Great pics and post!

  41. Girl, you rocked that Believing God quote!!
    And that view? Stunning!!
    I think God gave them that so that He could show off for them. Showing them His glory!
    And the story about the sweet mama and her little boy was captivating! Beautiful worship in its most authentic form!

  42. What an amazing view. It must have taken your breath away… if you had any left. :-)

  43. The pictures are just stunning.

    And so is your fashion sense. I mean, what is a hike up an African mountain top if not the perfect occasion for dangly hoop earrings?

  44. I just loved the pictures and the fact that a hike about does you in, too! Go Crocs!

  45. Oh you made me laugh! I went on a missions trip to Colombia a few years ago. We were going to go “for a walk”. Yeah. Well, 13 of us piled into the back of a pick-up truck which drove us as far up this hill as it could go before tipping over and tumbling back down to the bottom. I kid you not, I thought we were gonners. So once the truck said “that’s it” we all got out and started to hike the rest of the way up the mountain. After a few near death moments we made it to the top. Maybe the view was pretty, I don’t remember. My mind was busy trying to figure out how the people that were living on the mountain managed to get pool tables into their homes. Oh, foreign lands. You baffle me. :)

  46. Beautiful pictures!

  47. I think a baseball cap is totally appropriate headgear for any kind of Ugandan Nature walk. In fact….yep, I just looked it up in “Fashion’s guide to all nature excursions” and it says that baseball caps are allowed, even if they make your hair flat for the rest of the livelong day.

  48. Having a little laugh on your behalf. :) Silly girl. Fashion-smashion!

    Look great to me.


  49. I’m sure that sun made the hike all the more difficult. I’ve done a few African hikes myself, and it’s just harder there. (Or poss, gravity is stronger there?)
    Gorgeous place! Lucky you! I’m really enjoying all your Ugandan stories.

  50. It started with “Gotta. Stop. Minute. Breathe.” And then it was my turn to not be able to breathe!

    But this paragraph:
    “I’m telling you, we were right at home on the side of that mountain. Just like a couple of housecats in the middle of a rodeo.” This had me convulsing. I never use the expression, but if anything would make me declare OH MY LANDS, this would be it right here!
    And then I read on, I fight past my body’s involutary, violent shaking to find this gem – “and we started a downhill trek that was fairly simple, except for the fact that there were a lot of rocks and we had to make our way down the rocks and THERE WEREN’T ANY RAILS OR ANYTHING.” To then read that your feet were muddy/slippery – it’s just too much! My heart can’t take it!
    You’re so funny. I truly wish I could’ve been there – to experience this all first hand. Y’all must have had a ball – despite all of “the nature” and stuff.