Do you want to hear a story?
A long time ago, in the days of Africa, I found a place of peace. I find it again, whenever my heart searches.
This story is about a mountaintop in the middle of Uganda.
I’d been living in Kampala for about a month. I remember my step-mom telling me about pilgrimages to Kenyan mountaintops, as we ate our Ugali and Matoke (Mmm Matoke…). She was going on a trip to pray with some new friends, here in Uganda. I felt a little shy asking to go. I was very new to my faith and… I had only known her for a month or so. Janelle had a few drops of broth dripping down her chin. She looked at me and snorted as she showed all of her teeth. Her dimples matched mine. She was growing on me.
Give it time. God listens to the wants of the heart. Later on the trip, I was given a chance to have my own mountain adventure. Our church was taking a trip outside of the city.
As we drove into the outskirts of Kampala, the street shops grew further and further apart. We missed the entrance the first time (I love that country, but they have luck-of-the-draw with signage) and had to drive back around. We drove on a skinny, rocky, red-dirt pathway to park near the top of the mountain. A few other church members had already arrived. We waited until we had about 15 people before we wandered up the path by foot. We passed by a small hut on the right with a few pots and pans. Chickens were milling around inside. I felt familiar stares. I smiled and waved. Uncertain faces turned into friendly ones. Smiles are universal.
Wooden benches lied ahead behind a mass of bushes. A few monkeys watched us as we picked them up together and carried them up the hill. That was my first time seeing monkeys in the wild. I wanted to chase them. We wandered up the hill and arrived in a clearing in the woods. Light glimmered down between the leaves.
It was a very looooooong church service. Maybe two hours. But it was good! The pastor had us wander to pray on our own for a while. I wandered out of the forest and found a sunny place on the hill. I sat cross-legged and spread my fingers in the grass. I turned my face toward the sun and smelled the warm air. I could see the city below. Another mountain was to the left. Lake Victoria shimmered in the distance. It was beautiful.
I prayed about everything there. It started out a bit wooden, but quickly flowed into a conversation. I felt Him so present there. So peaceful, I wanted to take a nap. I laid down and told Him everything. I even told Him that I thought the service was a bit long…
I must’ve fallen asleep for a bit. When I woke, I felt light as a feather. I stood up and started to explore the mountain. I jumped a low wooden fence and ran into the tall grass. I held my breath as I entered an abandoned hut. It was old and rusty, nothing was inside besides overgrown weeds. I walked a different way, and found others praying under trees and bushes. I ran to the right and found a few church kids squealing in delight. They had long been exploring. They giggled as we ran over the mountain. We passed by another group who gave us looks. I playfully shushed the little girls. We walked through the trees and played with sticks. Eventually, I found my way back. They ran off to keep playing. It was there, in a circle, that I first opened up about the demon visiting a week or two before. I wasn’t met with faces of doubt, as I had been expecting. There was pity and understanding there. Maybe it wasn’t so strange there after-all…
What a day.
So much peace.
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