The minute we got off the airplane in Kampala, I knew that things were going to be different than I had imagined. I have traveled before overseas going to Poland, Russia, and other European countries, but this was a completely different experience. The first thing that I noticed and was how very helpful it was that the people in Uganda spoke English. And almost everything written was in English. This was a delight for me because I did not feel like I was so out of place. It made me feel almost at home. The next thing I noticed was that it was not incredibly hot. Yes, we had a few hot days, but not what I imagined being on the equator would feel like. And I thought it would be very humid, but it was not. In fact, it was a bit dry and dusty when we went on the Safari by Murchinson Falls. I thought it would be a jungle, but it was not. In fact many of the forests and the Savannah reminded me so much of our plains and forests back at home. If it had not been for the palm trees and the many different fruit trees, I would have thought we were in the United States.
I enjoyed seeing the new scenery and the animals on the Safari. I have decided that animals like elephants, buffaloes, and hippopotamus do not belong in a zoo. They are best seen in their natural environment. It was exciting to see the giraffes looping along by the trees. And it was a gas seeing an elephant scratch himself with a tree trunk. Yes, I know the cost of admission is more than going to a zoo, but the sights are unforgettable.
What I really enjoyed was getting to know the people. And there were lots of people especially in Kampala. I could hardly imagine seeing so many people walking around on the streets! For a country boy like me, I really felt crowded. But when we took a village walk by Jinja, it was delightful seeing how the people lived and their homes. The area was so beautiful. It was amazing seeing bananas growing all around you. And seeing mangoes, and passion fruit was so interesting. Coffee plants and beans were really different than I had imagined. Now I will drink it with much more appreciation. The area in Uganda was so beautiful and the people were very friendly.
Then we went to Kenya for a week. There we visited many churches and schools. We actually got to speak in them and encourage the people in their faith. It was really eye-opening to meet HIV/AIDs orphans, as well as those who had contracted the disease. Many of these were Christians. They had great faith and were encouraged with their faith in the Lord. It was amazing how whole communities pulled together to help those afflicted with this disease, and we saw the great needs that have arisen in the wake of this pandemic. We so enjoyed worshipping in the churches. The people were truly joyful! They sang, they danced, they praised the Lord in their own languages. We were in a cathedral in Bondo, and in a thatched mud building in a small village. Yet the people all sang and worshipped the Lord. We appreciated having many meals in these thatched huts. The hospitality was wonderful. We felt honored and very welcomed.
Like I said, I have been other places in the world, and in the end, I felt relieved to get home. But I was sorry we had to leave Africa. I really enjoyed it. I felt truly welcomed by the people. I feel like I would like to go back – go back and help with some of the needs. Yes, Africa was truly different than what I expected. It was Better.