Life doesn’t always go as planned, that’s for sure. When your luggage is lost or a plane is delayed, you might get frustrated, but at least you know that it’s out of your hands. But when I got to the airport in Maseru and found out I had missed my plane simply because I read my itinerary incorrectly, I knew it was going to be a bad day… and it was my own fault.

To avoid a long, dramatic sob story, I’ll give you the short version highlights: I ended up spending the night in the Johannesburg airport (talk about an interesting experience), drinking way too much coffee, successfully avoiding an airport employee bribe (“Nooow if I were a cop and I pulled you over, what would you do to make me go away?”….ummm I had about 42 minutes of sleep last night, don’t mess buddy!!), and miraculously getting upgraded to Business Class where I enjoyed an outstanding meal of roasted duck with Moet champage and lots of other amazingness…talk about a “last supper!” Basically, I experienced a complete 180 from the previous day.
I was warmly greeted at the airport by ChildVoice staff and a few new volunteers. We spent the next day in Kampala getting the work permits and immigration stuff sorted. The traffic was heavy so Abby (another CVI volunteer) and I caught a boda boda, which is a motorcycle that is commonly used for quick public transportation. It was soo much fun! We later met everyone with the van and made our way north to Gulu. It took us about five hours, but it was so beautiful. Everything here is so green! We passed by the Nile river and lots of baboons that walked on the side of the road like they were people, holding their babies’ hands.

With growing excitement, we finally reached ChildVoice. I can’t tell you how happy I was. It was as if after many years of waiting, I finally reached the place where I was meant to be. The girls clapped and hugged us when we arrived and the kids excitedly gathered around. They had a welcome ceremony for us where they sang and danced and prayed. One girl, named Kevin (some traditional guys names for us are used as girls names here), sang beautifully: “Dear Natalie, you are welcome, I’ve been waiting for you. Are you sure? I’m sure? Oh my Lord. I’m ready to dance for you.” I felt the most tremendous sense of peace that I was in the right place.

As I sat outside of my hut that night under a sky full of stars, I prayed that they could someday understand how long I’ve been waiting for them as well.