Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. Col. 3:2
From the time I woke up the Saturday I left for Uganda, for approximately the next 86 hours, I did not rest in the horizontal position. It might sound like I’m complaining, since I took the time to count it up and everything. That’s because I am. I mean, it was cool and everything. I’m just saying it wore me out. The first night was spent on a flight to London. We got there, rode the Tube (that’s what all the cool kids who have been to London call the underground transport system), ate fish and chips (that’s what all the cool kids in London call french fries), and walked to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. Then we headed back to Heathrow for a second flight through the night, this time to Entebbe, Uganda. We arrived in Entebbe on Monday morning and were taken to the palace where we were served breakfast. Then we went shopping in the market for souvenirs and toured the juice factory where they’re making…well, juice…with the king’s name on it. After that, we drove 5 hours in the royal escort to Fort Portal. I was in the back of an SUV. Sometimes I get carsick.
When you’re in the royal escort, it’s probably bad manners to throw up. Otherwise, I would definitely have given into matter over mind and hurled. Uganda has speed bumps on steroids. I’m saying they’re not normal. They’re not a bump, per say, but a series of 5 or 6 bumps put together into one body-jarring, vomit-inducing experience. And they come about every 30 seconds, or so it seemed, on an empty stomach in the dark. With about 20 minutes left to go, I’m certain I was white in the face as I told the people in my vehicle that I was going to be sick. But then again, what kind of a person causes the entire royal caravan to pull over for throw up? Not this girl. So I set my mind on steadiness and my eyes on the road ahead, and held it together.
So then we got to the palace in Fort Portal, where dinner was waiting. At this point, queasy and exhausted, I was still working hard to hold it together. Even though I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, all I really wanted (now 85 vertical hours into my adventure) was a toothbrush and a bed. But what kind of a person refuses to eat a meal served to her at the royal palace? Not this girl. There was a giant Lazy Susan type thinger on the table, with all kinds of African food on it. It was a wonderfully kind gesture that I wish I could do over. But for carsick me on that night, it was kind of like food Russian Roulette…and I landed on cabbage. That’s right.
I said in my pre-trip post that I wasn’t going to be roughing it. I lied. I mean, my hotel was great. Aside from those 2 days in the bush at the end of the week, we had indoor plumbing and A/C. But the travel at the start of the trip (and then again at the end of the trip) was a kick in the pants. We ate early and then not again until late. For the first time in my life, I had to think about whether or not I should eat the granola bar in my backpack, or save it til tomorrow because I might be even hungrier then. I was so tired at the end of the week, from lack of sleep, that I couldn’t remember some things. Big things. Like playing songs on my iPad for 3 people one night before bed, and the movie I watched on the first leg of the flight home. I know I watched one – I just can’t remember what it was. And when I filled out my exit card at the Entebbe airport, I kept mixing letters and jumbling words I normally spell with ease. It could be the Ambien that caused my memory loss; I’m not sure. But the point is, the journey to and from Africa was a hard one.
Then I realized what a big baby I am. I was busy photoshopping Chick-fil-A into my travels – partly because it’s funny, and partly because I give more than a passing thought to what I’m giving up when I answer God’s call on my life. Mary rode somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 miles on a donkey when she was pregnant with baby Jesus. Paul was stoned, arrested, tried, shipwrecked, snake-bitten, and all kinds of other bad stuff as he took the message of Jesus from place to place. And I want chicken strips, a fountain beverage, and a bumpless road.
I’m not saying that Mary wouldn’t have blogged about getting donkey-sick or that Paul didn’t show a few close friends the nasty cuts on his shins from those stones. But they did understand that there are much more important things than ease of life or personal comfort. They chose mind (and heart) over matter. Jesus said there are two kinds of treasures: the earthly kind and the heavenly kind (Matt. 6:19-21). It’s not that earthly things are bad, but they have an eternal value of zero. When they become our focus, our treasure, then we miss the point of life.
The road may be long and have bumps along the way, but how you handle it depends on your focus. Set your mind on things above.