Hello from Africa! After two days of travel I arrived in Uganda bright and early Tuesday morning, tired but excited to be here. It has been a whirlwind of a week as I have settled in to my apartment, gone through training at the IJM office, and explored the beautiful, crowded, hilly, polluted city that is Kampala.
I’ll soon have an update about general life here (with pictures!)… but for now I just HAVE to tell you about what happened today. It was a great day that started off with a long brunch with the other interns/fellows here at IJM, wandering around a downtown market with beautiful crafts and batik art, etc, and a relaxing afternoon playing games with fellow IJM interns and another young expat that I met. But that’s just the intro to the real story…
I was walking back to my side of town this afternoon, and the road I was on took me by this long airstrip that apparently is used sometimes as a park, and sometimes as an airstrip for the President. The first thing I noticed was that there were TONS of people milling around the airstrip, and a lot of them were congregating at this large stage in the middle. There were lots of armed guards and policemen stationed around the airstrip. At first, I was wary: Is this a political rally? Is it safe? Should I be here right now? As I walked closer, I heard a song coming from the stage: “when you call on Jesus, all things are possible….” Wait! I know that song! That’s Nicole C. Mullen!! But, I’m in Uganda. That couldn’t be her. What is going on?
I asked two sweet ladies who were walking the same direction as I was, and sure enough, they confirmed that it was indeed Nicole C. Mullen (a Christian worship singer.. she’s a definite favorite in the Hanson household and I grew up singing her songs while doing the dishes and dancing around the living room). She was here with Andrew Palau, an international evangelist, to perform at this large revival/worship festival called Love Kampala. We walked through the security checkpoint, and melted into the crowd surrounding the stage. (Well… I’d like to think I melted into the crowd… but as the one white face in a group of thousands, I probably didn’t really blend in at all.)
Let me tell you… being at a Nicole C. Mullen concert with thousands of people who really can clap, sing, and dance along to her songs is amazing. It was an hour of such powerful worship, and for me, the whole event was a complete answer to prayer. This week has been harder for me than I had anticipated, due to a number of factors. I’ve felt almost perpetually overwhelmed. Although no one aspect of my life is terribly hard, when I consider everything I have to get used to (Africa, Kampala, my duties at IJM, my apartment, public transportation, budgeting my money, developing friendships and relationships with IJM staff members, etc), the transition has proved to be quite draining.And so the fact that I just happened to stumble on a concert by one of my favorite music artists while wandering through Kampala, and was able to spend an hour being constantly reminded of God’s faithfulness through her lyrics and worshipping with thousands of fellow brothers and sisters here in Uganda … it was exactly the refreshment I needed.
I was reminded, once again, that when I try to survive on my own strength, it just doesn’t work. I alone can do nothing of lasting value here…but when you and I call on Jesus… all things are possible!
I’m so very ordinary, nothing special on my own.
Oh, I have never walked on water,
And I have never calmed a storm.
Sometimes I’m hiding away from the madness around me
Like a child who’s afraid of the dark
But when I call on Jesus,
All things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles’ and soar
When I call on Jesus,
Mountains are gonna fall
‘Cause He’ll move heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call