This Thing They Call Re-Entry

For the last couple of days of our trip to Uganda, we talked a lot about “re-entry” into our everyday lives – what that might look like and feel like once we got home to our families. We talked about jet lag and the best way to move through it. We talked about how it takes time to process everything we saw and heard and experienced. And we talked about how it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by it all.

And make no mistake: for the first week that I was back at home, I was Officially Overwhelmed.

It’s not that I felt guilty that we live smack-dab in the middle of suburbia. At least I don’t think that was it. And it’s not that I wanted to sell all of our earthly possessions and give all the money to the poor and go live in a slum in the middle of Kampala, Uganda. I still had the wherewithall to recognize that God has a specific calling on my family’s life right here where we are.

But the first morning after our return trip – after sleeping for about four hours and then tossing and turning for the next three – I finally got out of bed around 4:45 and decided I’d make a pot of coffee.

And do you know what happened? I turned on the kitchen faucet. And water – clean, drinkable water – poured out of it. I could’ve let that water run all day if I wanted to.

It made me cry.

In fact, it made me cry a lot. So much so that I have started to refer to that particular time as Tuesday: The Day Of All The Crying.

The simplest things – water from a faucet, aisles of food at the grocery store, heat blasting out of our floor vents – left me sort of dumbstruck by the sheer abundance of it all.

But slowly, gradually, I’ve started to work through the process of figuring out what our experiences in Uganda are going to mean in the context of my everyday life. I feel like I’ve started to find my way again. And even though it feels strange sometimes to see the world through the lens of a vastly changed perspective, I’m so grateful for this new vantage point. I feel like our Uganda trip made me take off my suburban blinders.

The temptation, of course, is to gradually put the blinders back on. Because truth be told, I have moments where I feel like I’ve just about worn myself out with the Deeply Reflective Analysis Of The Poverty, and I wonder sometimes if the next step isn’t just to Push Through This Thing and Move On.

But the kicker is that I can’t.

And on top of that? I don’t want to.

Because ultimately, the trip to Africa has given me a completely unexpected desire to DO SOMETHING, ALREADY. And the bottom line is that I don’t want for the extent of this trip’s aftermath to be that I have some really cool pictures in iPhoto now, and oh, by the way, let me show you my sassy Ugandan earrings.

It has to go deeper than that.

And so I pray that what I saw and felt and heard on our trip will continue to impact my life, my family’s life, in ways we can’t ignore. I pray that somehow those experiences will continue to impact the lives of the children around the world who so desperately need our help.

I pray that I’ll know what to do next.

Because sitting here and pretending that poverty doesn’t exist? It’s no longer an option in our house.

So re-entry? Yep. Done it. Check that off the list. I am once again a functioning, (fairly) well-rested member of American society. I can even turn on the water in my kitchen without crying.

But ultimately, is the trip to Uganda over?

Nope. No way.

Not even close.

And Lord willing, it never will be.

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  1. BooMama, praying that the Lord will show you where He will be using you next.

    Remember the Uganda trip will never be completely “over” for you. It is now a part of you. And that is a wonderfully blessed thing.

  2. We all know He’s using you right here in Bloggyland. :) And thanks for that reminder and the water…. just yesterday I started buying the Ethos water at Starbucks for Ethiopia. And I know it was in part because of ‘the trip’ and my own awareness. Somehow, now those bottles of Ethose water “helping children get clean water” are more than just an over priced bottle of water available to me. I actually felt like I could start right ther and do a little something. God Bless Boo Mama and please link us up with that hair update. ;) All things American.

  3. Oh, Amen and Amen! And a few hallelujahs too! Ixnay on the indersblay. May it be true for all of us.

  4. p.s. yes, blessings as you seek Him well ‘next.’ And please keep posting us about it. We love your experience and how God has changed you and to share that with us.

  5. Natalie says:

    I am praying that the Lord will continue to use your trip to change your life and mine! Keep writing (no quotation marks), use your gift to shake us all into action.

  6. Good! I spent a summer in Brazil, and we spent some of that trip working in the flavelas (read: slums). Sadly, I have forgotten a lot of what I saw. Even though I have pictures of the precious children playing in the dirty streets with their one communal soccer ball, even though I journaled about it and kept letters I sent others about it, I have forgotten.

    I pray that the Lord grants you the grace NOT to forget, and that it will impact your life (and ours) continually!

  7. Hi, I read your blog often and followed your trip to Uganda and you and the others have been and are in my prayers. Your post today reminded me of a journal entry I have from a mission trip I went on that literally changed my life. It was about not letting the feelings fade. Well, I didn’t, and six months later our family did move and change everything about our lifestyle. It’s a long story but we are full time missionaries in the inner city of America now.

    God has big plans for you, for your trip-mates, for all of us. Some are called out of the country, some to a different place in our country, some to changes right where they are right now. DON’T let the blinders go back on… change, follow God’s lead and rest in His peace as HE rocks your world. He sure did that to me!

    God Bless you on your journey…

  8. I started reading your blog just before your trip and have been following your journey. I love how you open your heart to share the impact on your life, which in turn has impacted others. I look forwarding to seeing what’s next for you.

    I can relate to not wanting to put the blinders on, just a different way for me. I formerly worked in law enforcement. God has led me to use that experience to teach safety to kids and parents. I have just begun, and I cannot wait to see where God takes me.

    Thanks for sharing your journey! Blessings.

  9. I didn’t know you before your trip, so I have no frame of reference to know how much you have changed. But I do know that you and Shannon have changed me.

    I “knew” about poverty, but I hadn’t been thinking of what I could be doing about it. I am pretty sure that my calling is more local, but I have taken the time to listen to it.

  10. It has been three years since I left the country on a mission trip. I told my husband last night that my soul is really in need of it. I could use a big dose of perspective and just getting out there and doing some hard work. I appreciate you sharing your heart since it doesn’t look like I’ll get to go in ’08. Thank God that those of us who can’t go can still DO SOMETHING. And thank you for giving us a HOW.

  11. I’m glad you don’t believe that God is calling you to sell everything and move to Uganda. The fact is, God can use each of us where we are. The two things I’ve been thinking about a lot since you guys went over there is that 1) my family and I need to live more simply so we have the resources to help the people working in poverty-stricken countries, and 2) we, the normal, middle-America types, need to put real pressure on government and business to change the way we do things as a nation. (Was that all one sentence?)

    Thanks for giving me so much food for thought. To reference another post, I can’t stop eating!

  12. Amen!and Amen! and Amen…


  13. Boomama,

    I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been to Africa and not come back completely changed. You have been given such a beautiful gift, and I love how you’ve been able to share that with so many of us through your blog. I will be praying for you to discern how God wants you to stay connected to that experience and to those dear Ugandan people.

  14. You have captured the reason God sent you. It was not to make you feel guilty or prepare you to sell your earthly possessions and move to Africa. It was to change you-on the inside-forever and ever. And in doing so, to allow you and your newly changed self, to share your insight with the internets! You remind us of the responsilbity that comes along with the abundance He has blessed us with. The benefits of your trip and your changed life will continue to reap benefits for the kingdom of God. Blessings.

  15. I hope none of us who have read all of your experiences forget. And that we keep “Doing something, already!”

  16. “Sigh”, I miss you! Great words, I feel like you wrote my heart. H

  17. Keep on writing, keep on re-entering. Be still and know that He is God, and He will let you know what comes next. Thanks to you and Shannon, our family is now the proud sponsor of a precious little girl in India. We are all so excited to see how God will use this child to take our blinders off and change our lives. I woke up this morning and felt…refreshed, because I have always been concerned about poverty but now I am DOING SOMETHING. And I can’t wait to see how many more somethings come down the pike. God is good. : )

  18. No, it won’t ever be over…and that’s such a blessing in itself. Because God will continue to use your experience for years and years to come. That’s the beauty of it! In fact, my precious Mama was at my house a couple of days ago and told me she’d just signed up to sponsor a child. She’s always meant to, but just hadn’t done it. Keep writing, Soph, ’cause truth is, there’s probably not a whole lot of folks out there in the blogosphere who couldn’t spare $32 a month to help a child. What a blessing!

  19. I say THANK you. You are an answer to my prayers–before you all left, I prayed that not only would you all be changed by the experience, but marked. I am so proud of you all for pouring yourself out for others in Jesus’ name. The neatest and best part is that not only have you all told about your trip, but also your lives became interwined with these precious ones. And the blessing I have is that I can share in the joy of doing the same–by sponsoring a child or two or three or twenty :) (to borrow an expression from you).
    Blessings on you, Sophie!
    Much love and prayers,

  20. You are on an amazing journey…keep seeking and you will find that next step. It’s been precious to hear what is going on in your heart and to see the impact you are having.

    I’m praying for you!

  21. I had the same running water experience after returning from India in December, and I cried all over again when I read your post.

    I have not forgotten the people and sights, and never will — I have a gorgeous new adopted daughter from India to remind me forever. She is a rich blessing, and the journey that led me to her has changed my life.

    I have loved every minute of your Uganda experience.
    — NancyL

  22. Jennifer says:

    You are the sweetest. Thanks for reminding us of how completely blessed we are to live in this country.

    Love you, Jenn

  23. I’ve so enjoyed reading about your journey, and I’m thankful you have been sharing it with us.

    It took me a few weeks, but I just signed up to sponsor a little five year old boy in Uganda. I can’t wait to get our packet on him and write him a letter!

  24. Sophie, you continue to bless me as you share how God is using the trip to shape you. And He will continue to use that experience in the years to come.
    We returned from Uganda almost 6 years ago and while some of the memories have faded, so many are fresh in my heart and mind. We keep in touch with dear friends we made there, look often at our photos, and re-read e-mails we sent home that year journaling our experiences. We give as much and as often as we can and find it a blessing to envision how the money will help. It’s especially cool to hear about some of the kids who are graduating from P-7, S-4 or even university and know the impact they will have collectively on the country. Just like the Compassion kids in the leadership development program, these young people have been changed by the love and care of the Kasana “family” and, in turn, will change their communities. What a HUGE blessing to witness the work of God in their lives!

  25. Thanks for sharing your journey with us! It has been a blessing to us. Praying for you!

  26. That is so touching. Crying at water flowing.

    We have to learn some balance in it all, somehow…from these changed perspectives.

    {Can I interupt myself here to say that these blinking sidebar buttons are so hard on my 35 year old eyes? I can’t scroll left to right meaningfully without covering the screen with my hand, so I figure it’s worth a mention to the, you know…boss! Cute ads, but could they be STILL? :D Okay, I’m done.}

    Now…yes, balance. How?

  27. I’m waiting, knowing what God will share through you is worth the wait. It’s going to be great, even if it hurts hearing it, which it just might. I’m trusting you’ll hurt us with the rich telling, then tell us how to make a real difference.

  28. You have changed, you have changed the lives of the children we have chosen to sponsor because of you, and you have changed us too.

    Thanks, and isn’t it wonderful that He never changes.

    Hugs and prayers.

  29. Hey there BooMama… I so want to shorten your name to just intitials but every time I get the urge I just think that is so WRONG! So, I will continue with the Boo or BooMama tag. Or, could i just call you by your name? I happened to read it over at Fry Daddy’s blog and I am just not too good with Nick-tags… It comes from two very bad relationships with tall men who had nicknames that started with S – “Ski” and “Stretch” – I divorced one and put the other in jail and now I am totally off the beaten path of why I signed on to post a comment in the first place! Perhaps I need some inner healing over this issue after all!

    Sweet Woman, you are so different – the tone of even your nonsense posts carry the note of reality you left Uganda with. That re-entry issue you are talking about is just the thing that was covered in a counseling class I took a week or so back. It is not unusual what you are experiencing is what I call “coming to the end of yourself.” I sponsor a compassion child and feel deep need to care for orphans worldwide, though I have not quite figured out what that looks like in my life. I keep praying that this fiction writing thing I got going on the side will produce a book contract that will enable me to be goodwill to many – but I do what I can with what I have for now, giving to mission projects at church and sponsoring my friend Norvelie.

    I say all this to say, it is normal to feel overwhelmed with the awesome need that humanity has in this world, and while it is tempting to beat ourselves up for the blessing of just being born in the United States, and having a life where the basic struggle for necessities often goes unnoticed by the average American – we can’t let that happen, because the truth is the enemy wants us to feel guilty for being blessed of God, and God wants us to recognize just how blessed we are so we will indeed be a blessing to others. So keep recognizing how blessed you are and keep being a blessing to others whatever that looks like in the context of the convictions and blessings God brings into your life – but don’t get mired down in the what ifs and maybes that you can do nothing about. Hold onto the hem of His robe and know that He empowers us to endure all things, the believe all things, to hope all things and He empowers us to never fail by His Holy Love. You are such a sweet, sweet voice that shares His love for the hurting in this world with compassion, zeal and great urgency. May God bless you richly that you may continue to be a blessing to others. AMEN.

  30. So incredibly good.

  31. I’m so glad you posted this. I’ve been keeping up with your trip/return and I’ve read the posts you linked to last week (written by other people who I think were there with you)… and I read something that resonated with me – something about being wrecked out there, but not so wrecked that you can’t be normal again. I would love to do something like that – a mission trip – with my family, but that is something that worries me, because of my inclination to wrestle with my own disappointments which drastically pale in comparison… so it was just good to read this. I love your blog. I love me some mamas. :) …You know, you and Big. :)

  32. This reminded me of when my daughter got home after a missions trip to Cuba, and she stood in the bathroom and kept flushing the toilet, like she’d never seen anything like that before. And she never wanted to eat beans and rice again, but after about a month she was begging for them. She’s a much better, more understanding, more balanced person because of what she saw there. It certainly changed her for life, but in a good way.

  33. It is easy for me to ignore what’s going on in different parts of the world until people~ like you and the other blogs I visit of people who’ve adopted from Africa~ put the faces to the poverty. You put the pictures in place for us to see things as they truly are. And although I didn’t experience what you or the others did, you opened my eyes. I cannot ignore it any longer… thank you for that.

  34. I think I’ve said this before–but thanks for doing this–for saying yes for yourself and for all of us (and all of them). I know you will continue to share and impact us all.

  35. our family spent the summer of 2000 in Kampala. it was a gift that our whole family could experience that together. my boys were 8, 4, & 2 1/2 at the time but they do remember. i totally understand all your emotions. thanks for reminding me of those sweet times and lessons learned.

  36. Good. God’s not done with you just yet, Mrs. Sophie. He’s still got lots of things planned for you and Shannon and the others. Stuff that he needed y’all to see first hand to get you to understand his unending, multi-cultural, he-loves-everyone-no-matter-their-income-or-lack-of-one, knows-no-bounds love. Now hold on because he’s gonna work you like he’s not worked you before because now? Y’all can handle it.

    Welcome to His world, baby girl! I hear it’s a beautiful place to behold. (And I’d love for you and Shannon to welcome me into it when I finally reach that world’s perimeter. Me? I’ve still got a ways to go yet.)

  37. I’m glad you haven’t gotten over it yet, but it’s hard not to let it fade away. Good luck!
    I’ve really enjoyed all your posts about it though.
    And I think God is glorified when we realize how blessed we are (clean drinking water in our houses; machines that wash our clothes; vitamin-enriched flour and cereals, etc), living in this rich time and rich nation, and when we thank him for it.

  38. I don’t know really, I can’t, but I think in your place I would be praying that I find a way to go on with my life without really ever getting over it. That I would be irrevocably changed in the way I see my world. I guess, like you said, the question is, what do you do with this change? What does it mean for the rest of your journey? I will be praying as you try to sort that out.

    I don’t often comment here, but I am so thankful that you brought us along on this journey with you. It’s nice to be reminded that something as simple as clean water out of a faucet truly is a blessing.

  39. Hey there, BooMama!
    I have been coming around alot lately and I just wanted to say that I really appreciate these posts.
    My husband had a few mission trips to Haiti a couple of years ago and he felt/feels the same way.
    If you aren’t already involved in a Beth study, you simply must get “Daniel” because it speaks SO much about all of this.
    So anyway…just wanted to de-lurk. I am just South of you (Calera) listening to our boy James tell us about all the tornadoes swirling around over our heads…

  40. Hi Boo,
    My brother is leaving for Uganda in two weeks. He is building a water treatment system for an orphanage that his church supports. Would you please pray for his safety? Two missionaries have already died from malaria.
    Since you have been there and seen it first hand you know the conditions.
    Bless you,
    ps. LOVE your blog. You crack me up. In a great way…

  41. Oops…forgot. He lives in Clinton. Yes, a fellow Mississipp boy. Graduated from RTS Seminary.

  42. I just wanted to let you know that tonight our family will be deciding on a child to sponsor through Compassion. You can read about it at my blog, if you like. Suffice it to say, reading the Uganda blogs (especially yours and Shannon’s), looking at the pictures and watching the videos has ramped up my conviction to do this to a level that I cannot ignore. Soon, one more child will have a sponsor. This is what you have done, all of you. You are the stones thrown into the middle of the pond – the ripples will be felt by many children in need because you took that journey for the rest of us so we could understand the impact each of us can have, one by one.

    Thank you.

  43. I can’t wait to hear what God leads you to do with your new awareness.

    found you from Missy.

    God Bless you and yours.

  44. I went to South Africa back in October and have experienced a lot of what you’re talking about. Though the poverty wasn’t quite as extreme as what you saw, it was still poverty and it still changed my life. Thank you for sharing your life with so many.