This is the last blog post from Trip 50 and you are in for a double feature. First up, Luke Bilberry shares lessons learned from the front of the bus.
As I sat towards the back of the bus, I looked up and saw a special sight.
I saw 4 American students getting the lesson of a lifetime. I began to think of all the teams that have gone before Trip 50 and how many others have sat at the front of the bus or the Miracle Van. The front of the bus is a special place of education. It is a special place to see with new eyes and hear with new ears lessons that are life changing. I want to share with you some of those lessons. I pray that you are able to learn through the lessons that we have learned from the front of the bus.
Lesson 1: The power of words.
Anyone who comes to Uganda quickly realizes that there can be a language barrier. While English is the national language, there are still local dialects used to communicate. As we all talk, we lean in a little closer to listen carefully to try and understand. The the fun begins as we exchange different words in English and the local dialects.
If you haven’t visisted Uganda yet, here are a couple of words to practice before you come:
- Hello is Agandi
- Thank you is Webale
I am sure that our Ugandan friends struggle to hold back the laughter from our failed attempts, but they are always gracious.
On and on the comparison of words happens at the front of the bus. What happens in this moment is something beyond mere words, love is exchanged. The collision of two cultures takes place as everyone is trying to understand one another. It is a shared space where we try to learn from one another; to seek understanding from one another is a work in humility. It is a work that can only really be done in love. To seek understanding with another is to say, “You have value and I want to learn from you.”
For many, the front of the bus is the place to learn that our words convey more than ideas, but the words carry with them love. In fact, love is the language that is really taught when you ride in the front of the bus.
Lesson 2: Keep your eyes open.
Another lesson that you quickly learn as you ride in the front of the bus is that you must keep your eyes wide open. This lesson is learned quickly from first timers, but can take some time to master. As you look out the window of the bus, it is so easy to see that there are many differences between America and Uganda. They drive on a different side of the road. Their trees look different. People walk everywhere and if they are not walking they are riding a Boda Boda- three or four people (plus a few yellow bananas on top) to one motorcycle.
As you look longer and your mind catches up with your eyes, you begin to see beyond the interesting things the landscape of Uganda holds, but you begin to see the richness of this country. It is a country that is rich in natural resources. It is a country that has a beauty that causes you to think that there is more beyond that what our eyes can see. You see the rolling hills and you begin to see that there is strength and majesty. You see all of the banana trees and the trucks and bicycles that carry the bananas and you see that there is always a provision of produce. It is a reminder that God always knows the needs of His people. While our needs may be different, keep your eyes open and watch as God provides.
Lesson 3: We are different, but we are the same.
As the two previous lessons combine, it is clear to see one of the greatest lessons that you can learn form the front of the bus. It is a lesson that ought to shape us all. It is one that, by the Grace of God, will carry these young students further than any mathematics course. It is a sort of social studies. This lesson teaches us that even though we are different, even though our skin color may be different shades, our languages may sound different, the reality is that we are all the same.
We all have struggles. We all come from families with different stories and challenges. We all have hopes and dreams for the future. We all desire to be known. We all desire for our needs to be taken care of. I don’t think there can be a greater lesson learned form the front of the bus than to look at another and realize that at our core, we are the same.
We all face challenges. We all desire to be loved. We all have joys and moments of celebration. This has real implications for our lives. That if we are all the same, then we all play a part in caring for one another.
Because we share a common bond as humans, all created in the image of God, we have value no matter the country of our birth or the economic status we have. Our differences might glare at us like red flashing lights in the night, but the important part about us is what we have in common. We are all His.
Hello, my name is Jake Hageman. I play the quads with the drumline and I enjoy it very much.
Like Luke, I learned something on the bus rides. As I rode with the team from school to school, I noticed that many people work on the streets. They are working in fields planting trees, watching after livestock, or working in markets that turned out to be their homes. Most of the people I saw appeared to live off of very little earnings, but I noticed one thing that grabbed my attention immediately: everyone was filled with joy. They would wave to me with a smile so big it lifted my mood entirely. I was interested as to how they could be so content and joyful. I thought to myself, “I have so much more stuff than they do, and I am not content with what I have most of the time.” Back in the states, I always wanted more…but these people didn’t.
This joy was also evident at each school I visited. They did not have much at all, but they were content and joyful. I wondered once again how they could be so joyful with this little of stuff. Then I realized exactly what it was. It was Christ. They knew that they didn’t need anything as long as they had the grace of Jesus, and I felt convicted. I felt that I was not being thankful for what has God has blessed me with.
1 Timothy 6:6-10 was shared at the dinner table tonight on this subject, and I agree wholeheartedly with what it says. Verses 8-9 says “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” I feel that a lot of the time the luxuries of the “American Dream” ruin our relationship with Christ. We are greedy and selfish instead of taking a couple of seconds and thanking Him for blessing us the way He has. I can say for myself that I do this a lot.
This trip has truly opened my eyes in ways I never thought it would. Every single person I have met has helped me understand and experience what true joy is. The Lord has shown me that even the poor can be content and joyful, and it is something I will never forget.
Trip 50 is signing off. We are each thankful for our shared experiences and thankful that you walked this journey with us by reading!