I have been asked multiple times what is the hardest thing that I’ve ever experienced. When I was younger, I was never quite sure how to answer this question. However, now that I am a little older, I would answer the question this way, “Saying goodbye to someone you love is the most difficult thing that has ever happened to me.” But this isn’t a proper way to begin a blog…
You may be wondering, “Who are you saying goodbye to, and why are you saying goodbye?” I guess I need to start from the very, very beginning. So if you bear with me, I’ll take you on a trip of my childhood. Where does it all begin?
Let’s start it off with my very first goodbye.
It was a beautiful Friday morning. The sun was shining gently through the soft, fluffy clouds. Early in the day my grandfather had gone to visit a friend. I stayed home with my cousin, and we did our house chores. At around midday, I saw my grandfather walking towards us when suddenly he dropped. At the moment there was a lot of confusion. I tried to assume the best, but in an hour my worst fears were confirmed—he was dead.
My grandfather died from a heart attack less than forty feet from where I was standing. I will never forget how lost I felt in that moment. A few minute later, my dad (Mr. Hurley then) picked me up and I quickly fell asleep in his arms. This is how I came to the Hurley family.
Coming to the Hurley family was God calling me to Himself—it was a tug of war. Growing up in a Ugandan home, church was a feel-good event. I really believed I was a good person. If you would have asked me at the age of 11 if I was a Christian, I would have said, “Yes.” I truly believed my good outweighed the bad. I anchored my faith in the religion of human achievements.
I was a punk in the first few years that I lived with the Hurley family. I had picked up bad habits and since I was raised by my grandfather, I was what you would call a spoiled brat. I had an anger problem and not a day went by that I didn’t get in a fight with one of my siblings. This part of my testimony, but let me skip past it to the family piece.
I adore my family. I have the best family that any adopted kid could ever ask for. I have had such a magical childhood. I have loved how my parents have parented me. They haven’t been too strict. They have pointed out what is sin, and have gently guided me through the gray areas. There has never been a single day that I worried about my needs, because I knew my parents would take care of me.
One of the many things that I will always cherish is how my parents have worked as a team. If my dad was the boat, then my mom would be the anchor. They have never worked independently of one another. My mother has always been a faithful helper to my dad. I have always admired my dad’s strong leadership and my mom’s selfless service to her family. Never once have my parents told me to put my confidence in them, but every time I was tempted to gaze at them they pointed me to Christ. When I grow up I aspire to be like my dad, and I pray that my wife would be like my mother (no pressure, future wife).
Growing up as a missionary’s child, you don’t really start out with a lot of friends; at times it is just your siblings and that’s it. There are three biological children and five adopted in our family. Two siblings have left the home and are now done with college. My siblings are all so unique and special in their own personalities. Some are loud (I fall in that group) and others are shy. We are all different, but yet have so much in common. We are an athletic family that’s very competitive. We are all homeschooled, and pretty much all share the same sets of friends. I love in our family how everyone is their brother’s keeper. We all have weaknesses, but we choose to overlook those weaknesses and see each other’s strengths. I am so blessed to have my siblings as my friends for life. They have made my childhood richer, and I am forever grateful.
I could have been born anywhere, but God in His sovereignty planned that I would be born and raised in Uganda—the pearl of Africa. I usually tell people that I am a mixture of Ugandan roots and American fruit. I love my country not because it is great or anything like that, but plainly because of its people. I love my Ugandan people. I am so thankful for the numerous friends that have become like family to me. I am grateful for the accountability that I have from older friends. I will forever cherish the godly wisdom and influence that I got from the missionary family and Ugandan community. This is where our trip into my childhood draws to an end.
I am twenty right now and in a few days I will be starting my first semester of college. To be honest, I’m not ready to grow up. I have loved my childhood—every bit of it. I’m scared of the unknown. For years I have lived in the Christian bubble that my parents and the other missionaries have created. I am firm in what I believe and in the Ancient Writings, but at the same time I am afraid to face the world and all that it has to offer.
On the 7th of July I said bye to home—it was bittersweet. It was sweet because of all the memories created that will forever be cherished, and bitter because I was saying bye to my childhood forever. The goodbye was a great reminder that this earth is not my home. I don’t know what the Lord has for me in America, but my prayer is that the Lord would be glorified in me in America. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, but I will rest in the One who knows the unknowns.
Lord, send me anywhere, only go with me; lay any burden on me, only sustain me; and sever every tie but the tie that binds me to Thy service and Thy heart.
— David Livingstone