My remarkable journey to Uganda — Finding Love at 57

by Audrey Williams

I want to thank all of my Facebook and email friends who have reached out asking “where are you and how are you?” I am literally on top of the world!! Life is truly awesome in every way.

It has been six weeks since I returned home from the most amazing experience of my entire life. I am in love and in a committed relationship with a phenomenal human being who also loves me very much!

My non profit Healing Soul of America, Inc. has Paula Gray Lemons back in leadership as co founder and Executive Director. We are in collaboration with a number of organizations and partners to establish a vocational/secondary school in Uganda, provide leader shift training to homeless people in Santa Barbara in a ten week Pilot program that we are calling “Boot Camp”.

Beginning in August we will have a pre launch of our One America Tour in Chicago, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Durham, NC, Newark, NJ, Portland, Seattle, Oakland and other key cities. The official launch will be in New York City Jan 1st 2012.

One America will be the “people’s movement” to transform our current social, educational and political system replacing the us vs them, model based on greed, fear and scarcity to a model of reciprocity, mutuality ,inclusion, accountability, love, kindness, moral courage, visionary leadership and spirituality. You may be wondering, aren’t so many people already doing this? Yes. But we are NOT doing it together. This movement and tour is about collaborating, building bridges across perceived difference, articulating and embracing a vision that is Big enough to unite us and move us beyond the current polarization. One America is grounded in the fundamental belief that we, each of us are truly “everybody”. Until we come to understand, acknowledge and live from this place of awareness that we are all interconnected and on the deepest level are all one, we will NOT create sustainable solutions to the problems we face as a nation and globally.

One America will use music, dance, art, drama, poetry and healing conversations to create safe spaces to begin conversations that lead to the building of broad based coalitions that strengthen communities and build bridges. It is our intention to partner with local groups in each city to bring visibility and funding to their work.

We have several dynamic and visionary projects to engage and empower our youth and ways to involve seniors to help guide and support our work globally.

July 22-24 we are hosting our first International Women’s Conference “Empowering Women’s Dreams” and we are looking for keynote speakers, facilitators, organizers, benefactors, volunteers to help coordinate this conference that will be the beginning of a global sisterhood.

What I want to share with each of you is the “process” that has brought me to this awesome place and time in my life.

Many of you can bear witness to my personal, financial, health and spiritual struggles especially in 2009 and 2010. There were several significant shifts, beginning with the offer from Deborah Nelson founder of Dreams to Reality and Author Your Dreams to gift me with the course that would result in my first book. Patty Dedominic agreed to coach me through the process and we met in her home. My first book Moving From Pain to Power that will be published later this year, is the outcome of the ten week process that literally felt like an “assault” on my beingness at the time. In retrospect it was, an assault on my “ego”. I got sick, was back and forth to the Emergency room, kept falling (literally) in the streets, seemingly could not stand up. The first few weeks were dreadful. I kept going, did my homework, read the assignments and something started to shift.

Around the time I completed the book, I received clear guidance to find and work with a holistic healer and to be diligent about weaning myself off of RX drugs. I connected with Rebecca Singer a shamanic healer who lives in Costa Rica and Portland. Last July I committed traveling to Portland and spend the last week of 2010 working with Rebecca. She agreed to work with me 4 hours a day and 4 days week, for free if I could get there and find a place to stay. Why a Shamanic healer? She is the person I was guided to work with. I am so glad I followed guidance.

Three people who believed in me helped me get to Portland. I left on Amtrak Christmas Day, still not having secured a place to stay and no money for lodging. Rebecca, suggested I not come. I slept in the Greyhound station that Sunday night. When I awakened I noticed a woman in a wheel chair sitting slumped over with dark glassed who had also obviously spent the night there as well. I went over to her and offered to help her. She did need my assistance. She told me her father was a millionaire and he would help me also. I told her I have to go to my first healing session and left to meet Rebecca. Rebecca had two women who volunteered to assist her in working with me. One traveled from Seattle just to work with me. How awesome!

That first day Rebecca listened deeply and asked me if I was willing to fully commit to this process over the next four days and totally follow her guidance. I was. She sent one of the women with me to Greyhound to help me retrieve my luggage and find me a place to stay. To  my surprise the woman I had helped was still there with her dad and he was a millionaire!  He paid for my lodging for which allowed me to stay over in Portland a few days after the healing work was done and enjoy a mini vacation. He was very grateful for my reaching out and helping his daughter.

Rebecca’s work was deep, all the way to my bones, she healed my DNA! The most powerful session, I could literally feel my body come back to life, when I came out of the trance like state, Rebecca was signing Amazing Grace in her powerful, moving voice.

The last few days I spent in Portland, I literally was walking and singing “if you are happy and you know it clap your hands, pat your feet?” (smile) I was feeling joy at a level I had never known. Rebecca suggested (strongly) smile, that I meet with a local pastor. His name is Matt Hennessee, he is pastor of Vancouver Ave Baptist Church. Matt was kind enough to grant me an appointment right away.  My meeting and short time spent with Matt was crucial to my spiritual growth. Let me try and explain why. I was raised Pentecostal, moved away from organized religion for years. I have more or less  been associated with either Unity or Unitarian Churches for the past 25 years and BOTH have blessed in ways that I am sure I do not fully understand. They have helped me to recover from the religious dogma and oppression of fundamental religion. The process has been difficult. Yet, at the same time, I was coming to realize that first and foremost I am a preacher. I was being guided back to what was good, positive and noble from the religion of my youth. I remember prior to leaving for Portland, I spent some time with my dear friend and spiritual sister, Ki Soaring Eagle. She would ask me each day what choice of music I wanted to hear and I would say Ki, I need to hear Gospel, please put on some gospel.

As Matt and I concluded our very productive introductory meeting he invited me into the Chapel and we knelt to pray. He asked me to pray and than he prayed. The bible says that “where two are gathered in my name”, well that was a powerful prayer, that literally set me FREE!!  The healing was Now complete.

I returned to Santa Barbara without a dime to go to Uganda and said, well God, is it your will that I go? The answer was a resounding Yes, you must go to Uganda!! I asked all day every day, everybody I knew, (even my ex husband (smile).  Hardly any responses the first few days, I kept asking, often the same people over and over (smile) Than on day 3 it was like heaven opened up and people began to donate, call me, email me. Some gave, others prayed and said they would like to give but could not, others charged the $25 on their credit card . The response was overwhelming so much encouragement, affirmation of my efforts and desire to go and serve, so many people shared their own dreams with me. Two days before I was to leave I was $200 short (the ticket price was going up) Two awesome dear women friends and supporters Leslee Goodman and Lois Hamilton, were very stressed, they cared so much and really wanted me to go that some nerves were frayed. I sent them an email, thanking them both and sharing that if I did not get to go; it would be ok.  I would return the money and all is still alright. I shared that the very process of my asking and the response from so many people has served to “open my heart”. I had experienced an epiphany. Something major had shifted. I went to sleep feeling absolute total surrender. I awakened around 5am and found an email from Rev Renee Waun in Pittsburgh (the sponsor of the trip and founder of the school in Uganda.) She had received $200 in checks from Santa Barbara and had fw both to LCL so now my plane ticket was covered. Just one day before leaving, can you imagine that!!

Uganda evoked so many emotions in me. These were deeply disturbing and conflicting emotions. The poverty is indescribable and even though I was seeing it first-hand it was in comprehensible. Yet, the people were so happy, joyful, soulful, lots of laughter. The children were brilliant, engaging, thoughtful, understood and appreciated the value of education. Renee and I would walk down the street and people would acknowledge her, clearly she was a “white woman” so they smiled and greeted her. They would stare at me and looked very puzzled. I was far too light of complexion to be from that part of Uganda and certainly when I opened my mouth for sure they knew I wasn’t from there.  But, of course most of you know how I am so it is not possible that I go somewhere and do not connect with the people (smile) The language is also some what of a barrier. English is the primary language at least for the educated, but they speak what we came to call African English (smile) others speak Luganese. But there is a mutual, universal language called love and it was truly awesome to connect with my brothers and sisters in the Motherland. For me, it was truly a homecoming. It satisfied a deep longing in my soul that I had nurtured all of my life.

Well in conclusion please accept my gratitude for taking the time to share in my journey by reading this. Oprah, has a column in her magazine called “what I know for sure”. So I will wrap it up with the same “what I know for sure”

(1)   Living as a person of color in America, has been for me at times oppressive, toxic and harmful to my soul
(2)   Privilege and unbridled power has rendered many of us “disabled” at the level of soul
(3)   Poverty in all of it’s forms is a choice we make, whether consciously or unconsciously it is still a choice and at any time we can choose differently. Rebecca told me that I needed to make a different deal with the Universe” For sure others had tried to tell me the same thing including my dear friend and business coach Patty DeDominic
(4)   Greed, fear and a belief in lack and limitation is part of the neurosis of our culture here in the U.S. Most of us suffer to some degree; the ones with wealth and the ones without it, all operate more or less from the same paradigm. We need  a shift in consciousness
(5)   Religious teachings that relegate sex to merely a function that allows for procreation within an established ‘system” of this culture is destructive to the soul and oppressive to the human spirit.
(6)   We create our own realities at every level. Hard truth to accept, yet it is nevertheless true for each and every one of us and it is also true of the collective. The current political and social structure of our country and the world is collapsing, it needs to collapse, it is exactly what we created. We are waking up in large numbers all over the world as evidenced especially in the Middle East and we are choosing to create something different.
(7)   If we love anything or anyone, I mean truly love, than we love everybody. Love does not separate, cannot separate. Love is whole, holy, cannot be separated, excludes no one.
(8)   Living with an open heart, from a place of love is a decision we make that takes discipline in thought and in action to learn how to be in this world with a heart that is wide open. Only by allowing our souls to guide, can we find the inner strength to withstand the anxiety and live with the uncertainty that is part and parcel of living the spiritual life from a place of total surrender, from a place of love
(9)   No one ever, has done more harm to us than we have done to ourselves. Again this is a hard truth, Nevertheless, all victims if we look closely are at the same times victimizers.
(10)                       Heaven on earth, a peaceful and kind world where everyone has enough to eat, shelter, meaningful work and a strong sense of community is possible. Yes even within my life time, our lifetime, if we consciously choose to create it together.
(11)                       The denial, suppression and systematic destruction of the Mother – Goddess energy is one of the major causes of the problems our culture faces. The current economic crisis is simply a symptom of this destructive force, to destroy the wisdom, knowledge, power and intuition of the feminine. Oddly enough, in my experience I have been able to re connect with this part of myself as a result of a very loving, platonic and safe relationship with my dear friend Jim Mulenos. Let me explain further.

Recently my dear sister, friend Carolyn Glass shared a story, perhaps even it is a myth, and however it is very powerful: the entire city/nation is marching; women, children and men. The men are out front, seemingly leading the way. The women and children are behind, seemingly following. A closer examination reveals that even though the men are in front the women and children are leading the way. Thank you Jim, for being such a catalyst in my life, for stepping out in front so I felt protected and then challenging me to lead.

On March 30th I will return to Uganda to work full time establishing the vocational school and to begin a new life with my beloved. We will return to the States together in August and plan to marry in Pittsburgh in November.

We will live between Uganda and Santa Barbara. I am happy. I am healthy. I am free. If you would like to know more about or possibly participate in the One America Tour or Uganda School project, Santa Barbara boot camp or the Women’s Conference; please email me at [email protected]

Blessings and oh so much love
Audrey