By: Mary Bokenkamp, Lady Raider basketball player
It is hard to believe that four months have passed since our long journey to Uganda. During our two-week stay, life and time came to a halt. Jokes were made about “Africa time” on a daily basis, due to the “we go when we go” attitude of everyone there compared to the punctuality of a group of Division I athletes. Needless to say, this attitude quickly diminished upon our return to the states. We began classes and workouts within days of being back on American soil. Real world mode set in and has been on full blast ever since.
Life for me has been slightly different than for the majority of our group. I graduated in May and was finished playing my four years of basketball. My life now revolves around having a job and finding my identity outside of my sport. It has not been easy adjusting to a life where athletics does not plan my day. I get stuck going through the motions and being caught up in the unnecessary evils of everyday life. That was until I received an uplifting email from one of the students I became close with in Uganda.
Sulayi was one of the first Secondary School students I formed a bond with. He and I talked for a few hours while we painted the boys’ dorm on their school campus. Although he was quiet at first, he began to tell me about who he was. He is 18 years old and loves to run. Running has never been my favorite activity, so he instantly earned my respect! Everyday after that we bonded through athletics and The Lord. He became a great friend. The day we left, he asked for my email address. He said his father uses email so he would write me sometime. Sure enough, he did.
It was an amazing feeling to know that he still remembers me there and is excited for us to return. The friendships and relationships that we built with the people in the village of Bukaleba were real. Our trip was not merely one of service, but of one where God connected people. It wasn’t about the painting or teaching, but about seeing the love of God reach all ends of the earth. I am a witness to God’s love bringing those together who otherwise would have never united. I cannot wait to return to all the great people of Uganda!