this morning my heart stopped. I hoped it was just a glitche, but morning soon turned into a long day which will now continue into the next two weeks.
Let me explain…
This morning us four girls were called from our deep dreaming into the kitchen for a quick word from Pastor Danny. Our tired eyes from a night of poor rest carried into the next room as we were finding difficulty functioning outside our beds. We sat down, still half asleep and were told something we could have never imagined… the program was pulling us out of Uganda immediately. The words spilled out on the table in disarray and at first we did not believe. We were hoping Pastor Danny was just joking with us as he almost always is. But this time his voice was different. We all stared at him trying to comprehend that giant of a sentence. We tried to get our bearings, simultaneously asking if he was serious. Then he began to explain that Grace (our practicum field director) had called him early in the morning, informed him of the decision and would be arriving shortly to discuss with us about our removal that would happen the next day. My tired eyes still were not adjusting. We were briefly informed that because of the US military presence in the North, there has been concern of our safety from the program director and sending universities and with that, they were evacuating all the practicum students in Uganda. I think at that point it started to hit us as tears of frustration carried down our faces. How can people with no actual on-ground assessment make such an vital decision? We had only twelve days remaining with a week at a refugee camp and teaching at the school.
We are safe. In fact, we are more than safe and that is where our tears flowed from. Being removed from a place where there is absolutely no threat or reason to be evacuated was and still is beyond devastating. Beyond that, I have been utterly disappointed and frustrated with how the Go ED has dealt with this situation. Those relaying the information to us about this decision were equally as confused and distressed, only taking orders from the director who had no actual contact with our site director or us students. Imagine the disrespect to the family that has kept us and cared for us, as well as the staff of UAOG as no one had even been informed about this process of decision making. Frustration doesn’t fully describe what is felt.
Our promise of two more weeks with this wonderful family of people was now cut short. We cried seriously as we imagined having to say goodbye, leaving our work unfinished. A week would no longer be spent at the refugee camps, no more time with the kids at Precious Children and no time to even say goodbye to all the women we’ve built relationships with in the time we’ve had. This was it. No warning to any of these people we’ve invested in. We carried ourselves to church, upset, devastated and partly in denial that this would be our last time at Victory Family with the people we’ve already grown to love. I think people were slightly confused as to why all of us girls were crying during the whole service. It was hard knowing that we’d have to part so abruptly from all our friends. All of a sudden all the wonderful things were just so bitter. Hearing the kids laugh made us well up with tears. Having church members greet us made us wipe our faces. And oh my, singing together made me seriously ball. It was a sadness of a different kind. We sang “I’m so glad to be a part of this great family…” None of us held back our tears during that. I smiled while I cried. These people changed my heart once before and now they had only grown that love all the more. I laughed as I cried too because their joy caused me to do so. Somehow I couldn’t help but smile as we sang and danced together, even though I was shedding tears because I knew it was over.
After informing the congregation and staff of our unexpected departure we quickly planned a barbeque dinner for a small sense of closure. Tonight we roasted duck and pig. I’ve never laughed so incredibly hard and felt such an overwhelming sense of love and belonging. It’s pained us all to have to explain the situation and how we have absolutely no control. We told them, if it were us, our hearts are saying “If we are to die, we are to die together.” Unfortunately our hearts do not have a say in the decisions of our leaders. After eating, we sang together and shared so much laughter it was almost painful. We ended the night each by explaining the impact that we’ve had on one another and how we truly had become a family. They gathered around us and prayed over us, all praying together. This really brought the tears as each of our hearts melted and were completely humbled by these people. We are really loved here.
Tomorrow morning we are forced to pack our bags and leave for Rwanda, something we are not willing or ready for. The pieces of our hearts that are grafted to these people are being painfully torn.