Pastor Blazio and Amy Compston in Ashaka.

By MARK MAYNARD / Amy For Africa

ASHAKA, Uganda – The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. like a gong.

A journey from Jinja to Ashaka was 45 minutes from starting. This mission trip is not about comfort, as Amy Compston often reminds her Amy For Africa team.

And this one was going to be uncomfortable.

A dozen adults were going to be squeezed into what closely resembled Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine or a 1960s Volkswagen van. Sardines had it better than we did.

We were instructed that we would have only one backpack to take on the three-day trip (Ginger of Gilligan’s Island fame would have never made it with us) that was going to take nine to 10 hours. That backpack, if it couldn’t be jammed underneath a seat, was going on your lap. So pack wisely was the clear message.

We left mostly on schedule around 5 a.m. The night before I told my wife that the prayer for today was the safety of the trip. A little history here. We traveled from Moyo to Ashaka on what we thought was going to be a 12-hour journey in May 2016 that turned into a harrowing 22-hour marathon of a ride in relentless heat and horrible roads.

Eight of the 12 on this trip made that trip. So the memory (nightmare?) remained fresh in our minds.

Prayer was essential, as always, but maybe even underscored this time.

So I sent out the request: Pray for safety (and comfort, if you don’t mind).

We received the blessing with cool temperatures making it seem like we had air conditioning (we didn’t) and the uncomfortableness of the luggage didn’t seem nearly as bad as the doubts in our minds were making it. Our bus driver, Moses, was a skillful driver, navigating the highways – and their multiple speed bumps – with ease. Bless this man of God.

We talked, laughed and slept. The journey took about 9½ hours and our friend Blazio, whose church we will be at Tuesday, was waiting and waving as we arrived at a garden-spot (for Uganda) hotel.

I have come to learn this much about Amy For Africa: Without the prayers of our family and followers at home, we fall flat. God directs our path through the thousands of prayers that are lifted up daily for what we are doing. We covet those prayers, yearn for them, and thank you for sending them our way.

I like to call my wife, Beth, the captain of the AFA Prayer Team. I cherish this woman for that and many other reasons. She has not been to Uganda for several reasons but, mainly, because she has not been called to go there. She gets asked multiple times if she is going and always politely tells them no, it’s not her role. But she has been called to pray for us and each of us praise the Lord for that!

She comes from good praying stock. Her mother and grandmother are two of the greatest prayer warriors ever put on this earth and she is in step with them.

During the trip to Ashaka last year, I was miraculously (supernaturally?) able to text with her during the middle of the night here. She was at a Little League game watching our nephew. There was no good reason for the text to make it through, but it did. I told her our situation: It was early in the morning, like 1 a.m., and we didn’t seem to have a clue where we were going. The roads were slick and filled with holes. Our bus driver was leaning out the window pouring bottles of cold water over his head to stay awake. We kept asking how long and the answer – two more hours – became a running joke.

Beth was able to tell her mother and father and her younger sister, who were also at the Little League game, what was happening. So guess what they did? The praying family prayed.

We arrived safely around 5:30 or 6 a.m. and, looking back, there was only one reason why: Prayer. Some thieves had tried to steal some of our luggage on a truck that was carrying it behind our bus and there was even an altercation. We never knew until the next morning. That happened around the same time the divine text made its way through cyberspace from Uganda to Kentucky. The thieves failed to steal even one item because God hears the prayers of his people. A simple text message that should have never made it through began a barrage of prayers for our safety.

So I never discount Beth’s role with AFA although, like her, it’s a behind-the-scenes, never-to-be-seen and never-to-be-acknowledged place. I’m probably in big trouble for writing what I did but she will still prayer for me. Without these Prayer Warriors – and I know we’ve picked up Cheryl Hicks and a few others from Oakland Avenue Baptist Church in Catlettsburg – this trip could not be successful.

With those prayers, it’s a journey that has been good for the soul and one where Jesus name has been glorified.

Thank you, my prayer warrior friends, and keep holding the rope.