Nights so hot that you’d wake up realizing you’ve flicked the sheets off or maybe even took off your pants. A climate that’s familiar in a culture different from your own. Dirty clothes every day. The dance party I’ve been waiting for my whole life, wildlife I’ve never seen and rivers I’ve only read books about, the unorthodox handshakes that I still accidentally imprint on strangers, the biggest smiles and hugs, and life transformation.
For this year’s birthday, I even received a card that said, “I still remember on New Year’s Eve in Uganda when the three of us were so tired and we debated if we wanted to get up to dance or not.” Even just the memory of being so tired and on the brink of illness but still wanting to save our energy to dance for the last couple hours of 2016 automatically brings me joy.
The journey to Northern Uganda was probably the most significant, exciting, crazy thing that I experienced in the past year and maybe my life. Not only was it my first time in the continent of Africa, but it was a trip that initiated the formation of really amazing friendships. My views about the tension between relative and absolute poverty were challenged. I also saw a physical and tangible representation of how joy is independent of circumstance. My logical and practical ways of living a spiritual life got a little bit more spiritual. I cried watching brothers and sisters step out of their comfort zones and exhibit true vulnerability, courage, and power. There’s a good chance that the memories made are ones I revisit every single day even if it’s just for a second. Google told me that the brain processes 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day and the events that took place in Uganda probably take up a modest percentage of mine.
Here are some of my favorite moments and this won’t be the last you hear of it.
[photo by Jonathan Dickson]