I received this email from Melissa written when she got back to KC:
"Leaving Uganda was very hard...harder than I initially thought it would be. Some of the kids were able to escort me to the airport, and I was able to chose the kids. Of course I would not allow Henry (my Ugandan mutabani/son) to leave my side on Friday, and others to join me in the adventure to the airport were Joan, Saka, Nicky, Tonny, Issy, Rachel, and Petra. Although the trip to the airport was quick and they stayed only long enough to say goodbye and unload my bags, it was a special send off for me having my loved ones with me to the very end. The children were marveling at the airport, for many had never seen one before. It was also very funny to hear some of their master plans to sneak on the plane with me (including becoming an insect in my bag, hiding under my shirt, squeezing in my bag rolled in a mat, etc.). Having that final send off from SMK will forever remain with me.
There seems to be one little girl that captures my heart every trip. I loved reconnecting and spending time with my other girls, Doreen and Tina. However, this trip it was Petra that literally stole my heart from me. Petra is the younger sister of Opio Nicholas and Kiden Isabella, who are two of the most phenomenal and multi-talented children that I have ever met. These children lost both of their parents to rebel fighting in Northern Uganda. Petra has joined her older brother and sister just this last term. Ah, just thinking of Petra makes me smile. Initially she was a little shy, but quickly became my Princess. She loved to cuddle as much as I loved to cuddle her. Petra took my leaving rather hard and spent some time on Friday crying in my lap for me to stay with her or take her with me. Talk about a knife through the heart to explain that neither could happen.
After this trip, I have no doubts that Uganda and SMK will continue to play a major role in my future and planning. I know that it was necessary to return home, but it was done rather reluctantly on my part. I missed little to nothing (except my son Antwain) in the states (not running water, hot showers, modern conveniences, my bed.)
I only wish that each of you could have (if you have not already) an equal experience that brings out all of the bests in you. In Uganda I feel free enough to be my very best (without the daily pressures of life), and it felt phenomenal to love as well as be loved, appreciate as you are appreciated, and live each moment to its fullest."