"...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3
It is really hard to believe that our time in Uganda has come to an end (for now), and we are back home. 2 and a half weeks just flew by, and it wasn't long enough, but we're thankful that the Lord sent us for the time that He did, and for each person we met & were able to share His love with, and for those who shared His love with us, teaching us more than we could have imagined...
What I learned in the red dirt of Uganda...
It's too hard to sum up into words, but I will try my best. It will take a while to process, but here is what I've got so far.
How can people who have nothing, appreciate everything? While people who have everything are still not satisfied? And I am one of those people... Materially, I have everything compared to all of the people there. Spiritually, they have more joy in Christ in the midst of suffering than I have ever seen. One of my favorite things we did was worship on Sundays at Victory City Church. I have never experienced worship the way these people truly worship God. One song we always sang was, "My God is Good Oh. Everything is double, double. Everything is triple, triple" (reminds me of the verse in Isaiah 61 "so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.") It was incredible to experience the spiritual richness in the midst of immense poverty.
Loving the people through Christ looked many different ways throughout our time- sometimes it was just a smile and a wave, a biscuit (cookie), holding a crying baby, giving medicine to sick people, holding the hands of the elderly, playing futbol (soccer) with the children at the children's home, painting fingernails and toenails, visiting the sick and those in a burn unit, painting faces, praying for someone, giving a Bible, sharing Jesus in tangible ways
"It is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve, and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all it's need, has much to teach me." -A quote from the Mocha Club
Here is a video of some of the children in Henry's village singing Baby Jesus:
"Baby Jesus, Baby Jesus, I love you, I love you, You are my Savior, You are my Savior, every day, every day"
While we were in Uganda, we were able to serve through medical clinics, giving people in villages medicine that they only get twice a year or maybe even once. These clinics took all day, and as soon as our bus was seen coming into the village, people were lined up outside the doors. Our team split up with different jobs, some people took vitals (temperature, blood pressure, etc), others directed the people through the clinics, some did the eyeglasses clinic, some on pharmacy filling the prescriptions, and some did the de-worming clinic for the children, giving them a pill to get rid of worms that get in their intestines.
These clinics were long, hard days, but every person we saw filled with joy from receiving their medical care, new eyeglasses, de-worming pills, made it all worth it. I had no idea we would see 800-900 people in these clinics each time. I was thinking about how I always dread going to the doctor, and I don't go unless I absolutely have to. These people never are able to see a doctor, and it was such a necessity for many of them with malaria, stomach problems, eye problems, infections, and much more. At most every clinic, we would find someone who needed surgery or who had a very high temperature, and Sherry was able to provide funding through Loving One by One to send them to the hospital to get the care they needed.
One of the highlights of my time was working in the eyeglasses clinic. Many elderly people came because they were unable to read or sew without reading glasses. I had a translator working with me, and I would see which strength the person needed using a newspaper and having them read (many that could not read, it was just a matter of if they could see the letters). It truly changed me watching these people get SO excited when they could see again. I liked working at this station also because there was more time with each person, and the people would tell me what they needed prayer for. One woman who will stay in my mind is Rose, she was so excited to be able to read and sew again, and she asked for prayer for her children to be able to have the funds to go to school. It was hard for my mind to fathom how something as simple as reading glasses could change someone's life. We can easily get them at a dollar store here, and I never imagined how it could truly impact someone SO much.
Many things we saw were so hard to see. People starving, burned severely, sick, children without anyone to care for them, left as orphans, some that have been through horrible tragedy, and that alone can bring you down. I was reminded constantly that Jesus never said this would be easy.
A quote that was shared during one of our devotions that stuck with me
"Compassion will require much from us. It will be uncomfortable, messy, difficult, inconvenient, and painful. But it will have incredible value in the Kingdom of God."
This is so true. It is hard to know about the pain that these people go through, it would be easier to just put it out of our minds, but we can not. God called us as Christians to suffer with them, loving on them where they are. And if where they are is hurting, then we hurt too.
"I use to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes."
I am so thankful that Ben & I were able to serve together. Did I mention that we made some of the greatest friends on our team who came from all over the US and one from Canada, we miss them already. We were blessed by them and so blessed by Ken and Sherry who run Loving One by One Ministries. They are incredible servants of the Lord.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this trip possible through providing funding and praying for us & our team.
And Way-ba-lee (thank you) to the beautiful people of Uganda, who will be forever in our hearts. We hope the Lord provides the opportunity to be with you again.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7