The Long Winding Roads of Africa (Emily’s trip, part 1)

by Mommy Emily

Chimpanzees line the highway, babies clinging to their mothers’ fur, as we sit in the back of a white van taxi headed back to Uganda.

I’m seated with my friends from Uganda. We’ve been visiting South Sudan and worship rises from our lips as we stretch out hands after stopping for hot simosas and cups of spiced African milk tea. We worship even as the sun sets golden and trucks wearing gaudy Christmas lights swerve past us. We worship as we enter the outskirts of Kampala and mothers bearing rice and vegetables and groundnuts crowd the van asking if we want to buy.

We worship because we have just seen Jesus in the land across the border, the land of rich black earth laced with the blue of the Nile.

It was there in Nimule, South Sudan that we stayed with Pastor Santos and Pastor Francis on the church compound with teenage mothers and widows and orphans. During the day we would eat fresh chipatees or homemade donuts with avocado for breakfast and then fish and rice and posho (flour and water) with g-nut sauce for dinner. We would participate in conferences for pastors and mothers and youth but at night we would drink sweet hibiscus tea and gather around the out-of-tune guitar and sing under a stretch of stars, the air smelling of hot grass and campfire smoke.

Occasionally we’d see young men walk by with guns, former soldiers now gathering charcoal because the government won’t provide for them in the aftermath of one of the most harrowing civil wars the world has seen. Yet here in Nimule, 64 tribes coexist peacefully. It’s known as the Great Peaceful Equatorial.

And even as we enter Uganda, the fourth and final country for me, I think of the other side of Africa: of the three-hour motorbike ride with Pastor Sonnel from Sierra Leone crossing into Liberia, of passing through thick rainforest where the air suddenly dropped ten degrees and a wet breeze blew — and then it was suddenly back into heat and red dirt roads filled with gigantic potholes and rainwater.

And through it all, the Great I Am tucked His arms around me and whispered, “Look at what I’ve made. Look at these precious people. Isn’t it good? Isn’t it beautiful?”

I feel so incredibly blessed to work with the church in Africa, for in fact an army is rising up there — an army of men and women who are fighting for the true Gospel. And I can’t wait to share more stories with you in the days to come.

Thank you for your love and your support dear Lulu family. I took you with me in the folds of my long brown skirt, and even as I unpack and wash and hang that skirt up to dry, even as I lean against my husband and tuck my children close to my heart, I’ll be there with you, worshiping, on the long winding roads of Africa.

Please note, the Lord has told The Lulu Tree board to stay home next year and not to travel, for He is doing a new thing. It is so hard to know we won’t see our African family for that stretch of time but we must always walk in the steps of the one who is planting this tree. It’s His vision. And He desires sustainability for each of these places, so even as we stay home and pray, it becomes their own.