After almost three months of living in Uganda and just two months of being back in my home country of the United States of America, I have found reflection, insight, pride, and adjustment beyond measure.
“What a trip you just got back from, how was it?” This question leads many of the conversations I have with individuals aware of my fellowship with Field of Hope. The question I ask myself in return is: How do I describe the greatest experience of my life in a five-minute conversation? Most people expect a simple answer, but frankly, “It was great,” or “really awesome” doesn’t quite do the opportunity the justice it deserves.
In the days leading up to my departure from Uganda I could feel my heart begin to rip into two pieces; part of me ready to go back home and the other part of me not ready to leave home. By feeling this feeling, sometimes expressed through tears, I found it was just material proof that I had made the most of my fellowship. In many of the fellows’ blogs this season we talk about the people, the landscape, the spirt, and the vibrancy of the inspiring country we lived in. I won’t repeat all of that, but know that those feelings in country, don’t stay in country. Rather, those feelings turned into longing and remembrance for me, which was hard to cope with.
Leaving those brothers and sisters ensued a five stages of grief period for me. I felt sadness, heartbreak, and anger, which slowly turned into acceptance, and later pride. I won’t dwell on the beginning stages, but know that if you spoke to me in the first few weeks of my return, I ached. How could God give me a life I loved with people I loved, so far from the place I originally called home? It was a huge adjustment for me in simply digesting foods, recovering my sleep schedule, learning to stay connected with friends who were eight hours ahead of me, and turning my experiences into lifelong perspectives.
Finding outlets to share my stories with, people to relate to, and just having ears to listen, aided me in processing the extreme shock I felt coming back to such a different environment. I had moments where I simply couldn’t face the pressure in my heart because it was so deep. Some of these moments were caused out of the swimming thoughts in my head while others had were due to options at the grocery store, unruly American commentary, wearing jeans, driving my car, using a washing machine, and remembering the vast privileges my country has. I have found it is important to talk about these realities despite the depressing nature.
Moreover, feelings like pride and acceptance have crept into my heart and soul at the same time. The pride I carry throughout my entire body leads me even further each day. I especially know I am capable of hard things: staying positive despite the negativity our world can bring, having hard conversations, and doing anything under Christs sunshine. When I got back, I kept telling people, “Life is hard right now, but for some reason I’m in good spirits.” My fellowship gave me perspective; perspective of agricultural success, equality and equity, relief versus development, empowerment, and simple kindness and humility. I struggled for a while; and then I found things in my world I could enjoy from the African world I lived in. One of those was Christ. Oh how I loved Ugandan church service every Sunday. As seen from my first fellow blog, I was trapped in awe, security, and amazement upon going to an African church service. I found my inner courage recently and faced finding a U.S. church to attend. Though I am still quite early in developing my faithfulness, I only had the passion to seek this because of the adversity and passion I gained from my fellowship.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Sure, going to a church service once or twice a month doesn’t save me, but it brings me a sense of purpose and service, which I find goes hand in hand with the mission of Field of Hope. This stewardship of cultivating a better humanity drives my current academic and career goals and I look forward to embracing this energy to its core in my life after living in Uganda.
Does that answer your question? Most often when I answer that it takes me to an honest, rambling, daze of a response. Maybe that’s what this blog post is, but in short, my fellowship will shape the rest of my life and has changed me forever.
My adventures after Africa prove to be led with growth and pride, more like a life lined with fields and fields of hope, opportunity, and humility now. I encourage every human to experience an experience like this. If you don’t get to, ask the right questions, and seek your own information about life outside of your bubble. It’s a magical world with so much love and vibrancy. With so much in return from Field of Hope, I can only hope, with a true kind of hope, that you feel this.
By: Sarah McCord, Fellow ’22