Last night was our third night in Uganda, East Africa. Our bodies seem to finally be adjusting to the nine-hour time change and there wasn’t an all-night bass-bumping dance party at the boarding school down the street, like the previous night. We awoke to the downpour of rain—the loud African rainstorms that make you feel really small—and then our children climbed into bed with us.
This is going to be an interesting month. It’s our first time bringing our children back to Uganda since we moved here in 2007 to adopt our daughter and launch Light Gives Heat (LGH). Our son, Asher, was 2½ then and now he is 5½ and experiencing Africa from a whole new (and memorable) viewpoint. At 3½, Jadyn is seeing her homeland for the first time since she was a baby and I don’t know if she’ll even retain any of the memories from this trip. We’re excited to see how she takes everything in and if she feels any different being a part of the majority as opposed to the minority (or if she even notices).
To be honest we were pretty hesitant to take this trip. Aside from feeling like LGH would fall apart without our leadership and presence, the truth is that we wanted to stay and spend the summer in our new home. Since my last post in March, we finally sold our home and bought a new home. We love our home and feel incredibly blessed—we’re on a quiet cul-de-sac, near both sets of our parents and have a fun yard (complete with a tree swing).
Our flesh wanted to play it safe, find comfort in our stuff and just be normal—everything that’s opposite of what LGH stands for (how ironic, huh?). But we were needed. We are the relief for our American staff who live in Uganda and run things and need a well-deserved month break. They’ll be exploring East Africa (including climbing Mt Kilimanjaro) and we’ll be experiencing community living as we maintain operations and oversee current LGH volunteers.
This month in Uganda was exciting and anticipated when it was four to five months out, but the closer it got, the more it seemed like horrible timing to be gone. We recently launched the Moving On trailer and are trying to raise the funds necessary for its completion, and then a couple weeks ago we learned about the Chase Community Giving initiative on Facebook—we were able to receive enough votes to win one of the $20,000 awards. Then there are the four incredible LGH interns who are sacrificing their summers to touring (and camping) at music festivals across America for seven weeks. Spending a month out of the country and in a third-world country wouldn’t allow us the opportunity to talk to donors, advocate for Facebook votes, nor encourage the interns.
But like in everything, we realized we had a choice—a choice to either anticipate with hope the adventure before us or live in despair, complain and drag our heels. And as we let go of operations in America (for a second time in this last year) we were again reminded of the fact that we can’t control things and things will not fall apart in our absence. We are continually humbled as we relearn (again and again) to release control.
Letting go, holding things loosely, surrendering, handing things over … no matter how you say it, there always seems to be that underlying tone of weakness. It’s so un-American and yet so human. In a world of busyness, control and productivity, it’s so easy to become numb to our own hearts. Even if we have had our eyes and hearts opened and chiseled on before in this area, the question still remains: How do we, as followers of Jesus, lovers of people and advocates for justice, continue to reject the apathy to remain unchanged ourselves? A hard lesson to learn (and relearn) and the refining process is exposing, tiring and painful at times, but it is worth the cost, right? I mean, in the end we have a better perspective on the things that matter and we realize that maybe it is better to be out of control and let the One who is supposed to be in control actually control!
So Dave and I stopped fighting the approaching packing, the four-hour drive to Denver, the 24 hours of traveling with two kids, and the five weeks away from LGH and our home. We realized we had an incredible opportunity to slow down, spend time with our children, embrace the people and culture we love, and share it all with our Asher and Jadyn. Traveling went smoothly (the kids were rock stars) and we arrived early in the morning to Pearl of Africa. The two-hour drive to Jinja allowed us the opportunity to take it all in and explain to our children along the way. Jadyn was entranced—staring out the window at the kiosks on the street, women carrying things on their heads and children walking. And when we passed children carrying yellow jerry cans and I explained that’s how they get their water, Asher exclaimed, “Wow, that’s hard work!” In those moments, we knew it is all worth it and this month is going to be exactly what it needs to be…more to come.
Morgan Hansow is the co-founder of Light Gives Heat, a nonprofit working with Ugandan women to create and sell necklaces from recycled paper.