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Uganda 2015: Travel Day

Well, I am tackling the enormous task of blogging about my mission trip to Uganda.  I do want to say that this post is mostly intended to remind me of the trip and is not strictly informative in nature. I say this to make it perfectly clear that anyone other than myself may find this post tedious and boring. But because I loved this trip so much, I really wanted to write down as much as I could remember – for sentimental reasons.  

I have decided to break the post into four (4) sections: Travel to Uganda, Clinic, White Water Rafting/Kampala and 4) Travel back home.

Before talking about the trip specifically, I want to state how much I loved every moment of this experience; the people, the climate, the work; and the team.  The Lord led us on a great adventure (que Steven Curtis Chapman) and I am so grateful. Now, to the task at hand.

Upon our arrival at the airport, we all met at the American Airlines ticket gate.  We each came with two (2) large suitcases filled with medical supplies, a carry on for our luggage and a back-pack.  After counting and recounting the luggage we realized that we left one suitcase at home.  Thankfully, Ms. Hunley (Todd’s wife and Amy’s mom) drove back to Whitehouse and retrieved the suitcase from Dustin and Elena’s garage.  Then Dustin’s brother drove it back to the airport.  As it turns out, this suitcase was FULL of glasses.  As a member of the vision team I was so appreciative of Mrs. Hunley and Derrick.

Next we checked in.  As we were standing in line at the check-in counter, we started hearing live contemporary Christian music from the 90’s.  It was an acoustic band of approximately 15 teenagers sitting around playing music.  I smiled to myself – hearing that music made me feel like I was 16 again heading out on a mission trip with the FBC Manchester youth group.  I looked up to see other people in my group lip-syncing the words and I knew I was in good company. 

Next it was time for security.  My carry-on bag was flagged, so it was set aside and checked.  They disposed of my sunscreen and my bug spray.  I was pretty bummed about my bug spray because I felt quite certain at that moment that I would get malaria.  I seriously considered telling the TSA agent that if I contract malaria it would be entirely his fault, but thought better of it and kept that comment to myself.

When we found our gate we all settled in for the long wait – as it turns out the long wait was only about 10 minutes and we nearly missed our flight.  We were in the process of taking a group picture when they announced over the intercom that the gate was closing in one (1) minute.  We all looked at each other with sheer panic and tore off toward the gate.  We made it, of course, but in our excitement, we completely missed all of the boarding announcements.

In total we had four (4) flights.  The first flight was from Nashville to Chicago.  It was only a one hour and six minute flight, but it was by far the most unpleasant.  I have always hated domestic flights and this one was no exception.  I was seated next to a very stocky fellow who took both arm rests and much of my personal space.  To avoid having my right side touch his left side the entire flight I had to twist my body into a very uncomfortable position.  I also tore my pants – I’m not sure how.

The one highlight of the flight was listening to Amy and Dr. Michelle Lucian getting to know one another in the seat behind me.  Through my exceptional espionage tactics, I learned how Dr. Lucian came to be a member of the team.  Yes, it was a little creepy that spied on Dr. Michelle and Amy.

Once in Chicago I bought a sewing kit and a very delicious, but overpriced salad ($14.00).  I changed into my comfortable sleeping clothes and washed my face in preparation for the flight to London.  The flight from Chicago was approximately eight (8) hours and I intended to get as much sleep as possible.  This flight was awesome! I sat in the middle row, right side, on the aisle.  There were five seats in my row, only one of which was occupied.  This meant that I got to spread out as much as I wanted.  They served us dinner promptly and I watched a documentary entitled “Merchants of Doubt.”  Then I popped two (2) melatonin, laid down in the seat and slept until morning.   During breakfast I watched a documentary on Scientology called “Going Clear.”  It was very informative and seriously odd – WOW. 

Walking through the airport at Heath Row - we were so happy to be off the plane!

Dustin took this picture right as the train moved - we were all in the process of tipping over.  

Elizabeth, Elena and I on the airport tram. 

We arrived at Heath Row at 6:30 a.m.  We went through customs and then we checked our bags into a Yotel (a hotel room inside the airport).  After dropping all of our things, we took the Heath Row Express into London for a day of touring. 

The Heath Row Express dropped us off at Paddington Station were Elena and I paid five American dollars to use the bathroom; something I despise paying for.  During our day In London we visited “The Eye of London” “Big Ben” “Westminster Abbey” “The Department of Justice” and “Buckingham Palace.”

The Eye of London

My best and only attempt to access the Ministry of Magic.

Shortly after this picture was taken, I was literally almost hit by a car. Bear in mind it was entirely my fault, I wasn't paying attention and stepped out into traffic. But whether it was my fault or not, the end result would have been equally tragic.   My team members freaked out a bit.  Roger truly thought that I was going to go flying over the car's windshield. 

Alyssa, Elizabeth, Chelsea, Paula G, Amy, Me, Amber, Elena and Lauren at Westminster Abbey. 

Lawyer humor - lame. 

For lunch Elena, Dustin, Roger, Amy, Todd and I stopped in a local pub and ate fish and chips.  As we were waiting for the rest of our group to finish, we stopped a local souvenir shop and tried out the loot. 

Amy in her Union Jack sunnies

Constable Pond

The closest we came to a Royal sighting.

Next we went to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

By the time we were finished oohing and ahhing at the Bridge, it was time to head back to the airport.  Before doing so we waited 20 minutes in line at a Starbucks to use a free bathroom.  Right before we got to the front of the line, an employee put an “out of order” sign on the door.  We knew he was bluffing and Todd kindly informed said employee that he was a gold star Starbucks member and would appreciate the opportunity to “reap the benefits” of said membership.  My words, not his.  Let’s just say that Todd saved the day. 

On the way back to the airport, the Tube was delayed and I was a little nervous that we would miss our flight.  The route we took on the way back to Paddington Station took us to Kings Cross Station (Harry Potter).  I was pretty excited.  We did make it back to the airport in plenty of time to collect our bags from the Yotel, get through security and eat dinner.  I had the grossest egg sandwich.  I ate one bite and had to through it out. 

When we arrived at the gate I could tell that this flight would be packed.  There was hardly a place to sit just waiting to board the plane.  We found a nice spot next to the window and waited to board. Once again we readied ourselves for bed and boarded the Kenyan Air flight at 8:00 p.m.  (we had approximately a 12 hour layover in London). 

Once again, I had a very comfy flight.  I sat in the middle, on the left hand aisle.  Alyssa sat next to me and Amber on the other side.  Alyssa may be the best sleeper I have very seen – she slept the entire way.  Kenyan air gave us the best on-flight blankets – I kept all of mine.  I ate a grilled chicken breast for dinner and watched Interstellar.  I was able to sleep a few hours – but not very soundly. I woke up and watched Interstellar again (I know) while eating breakfast. 

We arrived in Nairobi at 6:00 a.m.  I was pretty stiff from a long fight, so Elena and I walked several laps around the airport.  We boarded our last flight for Entebbe at 7:00 a.m.  We landed in Entebbe (Uganda) ahead of schedule at around 7:30 a.m.  This is smaller airport so we didn’t go through a gate.  Instead we existed the plane directly onto the ground and walked through the front doors of the airport.

First we went to get our Visas and then we grabbed our checked baggage.  Dustin instructed that we not change in to our scrubs until after our bags had made it out safely.  He was concerned that if we were tagged as a medical team, we would be detained and our supplies held unlawfully.  After getting our bags out of the airport, we went back into the airport to change in to our scrubs.  The bathrooms were pretty rough – we were immediately welcomed by a big roach crawling up the wall of the stall.

Next we went out to the parking lot to load onto the van. The Missionary onsite, Jim Tellman and his daughter Amanda met us.  The van ride from Entebbe to Mbira took a little under four (4) hours.  I sat next to Amy and we chatted for a few minutes.  We drove past Lake Victoria and through a very poor section of the city.  I could not believe how primitive the living conditions are.  For the first two (2) hours we rode on the bumpiest dirt road you could possibly imagine.  Despite my derriere bouncing completely off the seat at regular intervals, I managed to sleep most of the way.    

At the midway point we stopped at the Equator – yes, the actual Equator and had our picture taken.  That was pretty neat.  It was at this point that I officially passed into the Southern Hemisphere.  They had a bowl on either side of the equator.  On one side the water flows down to the right, on the other is flows down to the left.

Travel to Uganda and you too could look this good!

After purchasing a pair of earrings we got back on the bus and traveled to the orphanage.  I slept until we pulled into the property.  We were met by Michelle Tellman and the rest of the Tellman children, Joselin, Alexandria, J.T., John and Peter. The Applegates, (Tony, Christy and their children, Elexus, Elijah, Elise, and Ellora) the other missionary family on the property, met us as well.

We unloaded our things and were separated into the home.  Elena, Amber, Amy, Lauren and I stayed in one room at the Tellmans’ while Dustin, Roger and Todd stayed in another.  The rest of our team (Dr. Lisa, Dr. Michelle, Elizabeth N., Elizabeth C. Chelsea, Allyssa and Paula G) roomed with the Applegates.

Immedately after unloading our things we went down to set up the clinic.  We had great facilities this year.  We had several tents that had already been assembled.  We set up the rest of our stuff which took about 2 hours and then we were ready to open. 


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