The first half of my summer was spent traveling with 19 other JBU students on a mission to love and serve the beautiful people of Uganda. Together we spent months raising support, planning and preparing. Little did I know God had much bigger plans than any of the hopes or expectations I had for this one month trip.
We worked within a lot of settings while we were there including schools, hospitals, orphanages and rehab centers. The needs were obvious. It didn’t take more than looking out the open windows of our bus to see the poverty of precious little ones living barefoot with raggedy clothes inside mud and grass huts. These huts the size of my closet are where families would sleep on cardboard.
Education was treasured but hard to attain. My first classroom consisted of 88 students and my second classroom was 133 students. These children traveled to squeeze into benches and share pencils with newspaper bound notebooks. Classes were interrupted by headmasters with sticks threatening those who had not paid the tuition.
The hospitals were overcrowded with people sharing beds or resorting to the floor. As I witnessed a still-birth, I was overwhelmed as I watched the lack of urgency among the nurses as the tiny newborn lay there breathless. You could not walk away from the orphanages or rehab centers without wanting to take a pair of beautiful brown eyes with you, knowing that so many had no mom to tuck them in at night or take care for them when infected with malaria or other common diseases.
It would be a lie if I said that I didn’t question God saying “Where are you in this? These people are suffering. They don’t have access to clean water. They don’t have shoes on their feet. Their future is decided for them because of where they were born. Why them and not me?”
Through my struggles, the Lord began to open my eyes to his promises. As I dove into the culture, I became overwhelmed with their richness. Uganda may not have the houses or cars that we do, but they sure have community. Each village lives truly as a family, always with each other and for each other. They may not have multiple clothes, shoes or electronics, but they sure have joy. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed with big smiles as they insisted on offering me the little they had. They may not have the medical advances we do, but they have a reliance on God like I’ve never seen before. I stood still one Sunday morning, covered in goose bumps as I watched 1500 teenage girls fall on their knees recklessly abandoning themselves in pure worship to their Lord and Savior.
In many ways, they are richer than what you could ever find in America. They are not pulled or blinded by the distractions, comfort and luxuries we hold onto so tightly here. Christ died for the whole world. Our lives may be opposite in several ways, yet His goodness, faithfulness, and love is unfailing to ALL His children. They do not depend on our circumstances.
I went into the country of Uganda with a plan of how to love and serve the people. What I didn’t plan on happening was walking away blessed as I learned from their love and way of life. Even weeks after returning to the states, my heart is still impacted everyday by the many experiences I was blessed with there. Uganda will forever be in my heart. I may not understand all of the Lord’s ways, but He is deepening my trust in His promises. I rest with the peace of knowing that although I am now thousands of miles away, the Lord will always be with the precious people I had the privilege of sharing a short time with.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Go to this link to view a video of the group’s time in Uganda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3vHjwUVGQ8&feature=plcp