A Thankful Recollection of a Trip to Uganda
It’s orange dirt roads with bricks made of the same. A bolder green. Bananas growing on trees. Piles of red clay bricks. Sweet potato mounds. Roaming dogs and chickens. Tied up goats and cows. Brick, concrete, and wooden structures. Corn stalks and papaya trees. Wide-eyed children. Some faces full of the joy of Christ, others hard and cold. Beautiful faces. Slabs of hanging meat. Bicycles. Boda bodas (motorcycles). People everywhere. Schools. Signs of encouragement on taxis (“be blessed”). Furniture on the side of the road. The Nile River. Heavily armed police. Traffic circles. Jinja Full Gospel Church. Little naked babies. Teaching Sunday School under a tree. Praising God with the body. He inhabits the praises of his people. Scripture that goes with the covenant study I was doing before the trip. Paved roads. Dirt roads. Clothes drying on trees or the ground. Huge birds. Bridge being protected from terrorists. Thatched roofs. Tin roofs. Roads so narrow you could reach out and touch passing cars. Men sitting on boda bodas. Mud houses. Avocado trees. Rain showers and sunshine.
I’m not even sure where to begin, so I’ll start with being thankful.
Thankful for prayers. Thankful for donations and financial support. Thankful for being able to see the body of Christ in a new way. I saw what true faith-based ministry means. The people I encountered truly live by faith that God will provide their every need. I’m thankful that God saw fit to allow our team (and church and others) to provide some of their most pressing needs (underwear, pants for the boys, disposable feminine hygiene products, onesies, formula, bottles, medications, money to buy a mini refrigerator to store medications, and diapers).
We met many people and I will only be able to recall some of them. Eric drove the bus. William rode with him to pick us up. Josephine is in charge of pretty much everything at Canaan Children’s Home. Papa Isaac and Mama Rebecca run Canaan Home. Florence cooked for us and runs Pillars of Hope with her husband, Godfrey. Priscilla helped cook. Miriam works in the clinic (and has an a-maz-ing voice). Jennifer and Sara are dorm moms. Julius walked us to the schools. Henry and Tonny who work at the Canaan Primary School as director and headmaster. Then there were the children: Pauline and Victor who had only been there a couple months. Sophie who did our laundry. Precious who held my hand from the beginning. Peninah who translated and sang and helped everywhere she could. Stella and Jane, Derrick and Eddy. Mary and Martha. Baby Scott and baby Cindy. Eric’s mother, who sells jewelry and paintings in the tourist area of Jinja.
Each day was a different schedule. We taught Sunday School (Jinja Full Gospel Church), read scripture and encouraged the staff, played with the kids, went to the Kindergarten and Primary schools to teach Bible, traveled to two different baby homes (Sangaalo in Jinja and Pillars of Hope in Busia), spoke at church (Buziika Full Gospel Church), and helped plant elephant grass (the cows eat it). We had a celebration feast and a dance party. We worshipped with people whose skin doesn’t look like ours, but we share the same Spirit. We watched a man pray and receive Christ as his savior.
We held babies at Pillars of Hope and some of them were absolutely terrified of us at first. We held babies at the Sangaalo Baby Home who are HIV positive. We sang and danced and played games with children at Canaan. We heard stories of how God called the men and women to the work of running these homes. We saw how the babies and children are absolutely loved and cherished and are FAMILY to each other. There is joy and hope in those places. (Incidentally, sangaalo means joy).
A few of us, at various times, struggled with the purpose of this trip. We weren’t coming home to advocate for adoption. Yes, we did go to update sponsorship files, but Uganda’s goal is to reunite families. By Thursday, God spoke to me about the purpose…or at least what he wanted me to learn and see. As believers, we are the body of Christ. Our group did not go to change the way things are done. We didn’t go to provide everything for them or to take over. We went to come alongside them and work with them where they’re working and where God is working. He used us and our words to give encouragement to a group of people who are obviously hard working and tired. He used our actions to help get most of a field planted with needed elephant grass. He used us to show love to children who have suffered trauma…some of it unspeakable. He used us to bring joy to faces. We were told over and over that we blessed them so much. I say that they blessed us so much. We saw the great faith in God that they possess. We saw the unconditional love that flowed freely around us. We saw the amazing freedom to praise God and worship him when the Spirit moved.
Yes, we may have blessed them with our coming, but they blessed us as well.
I’m thankful that God allowed me to go and minister and be ministered to.
If you feel called to serve people around the globe in the name of Jesus, visit this link for more information on our mission trips. One of our teams will be leaving with a group to go serve in Uganda on March 2nd, if you want to experience what Katherine has, visit this link to learn more about our upcoming Uganda trip.