|Jesus feeds 5,000: God's Big Story|
And so I will not forget the story of Happy, a 14 year old confined to a wheelchair who converted from Islam at 9yrs. His real name is Saddiq but when he came to Christ they said to him "we will no longer call you Sad (the nickname for Saddiq) you are now Happy." I was able to observe him as he taught bible stories using OneHope's God's Big Story. It gave him great pleasure and encouragement to be used to teach others. I will never forget the teen boys who confessed pornography addictions that have now been broken thanks to reading the Teen edition of the Book of Hope. And then there was the one young man who attended a predominately Muslim school who was saved when someone gave him a Teen edition Book of Hope and in the couple of months since he has personally distributed and witnessed to 29 others in his school as well as the surrounding schools. One girl however wanted to become a Christian but she feared her parents and so she kept her book at her friends house to read whenever she wanted. I encouraged her that when she was ready that there was a very special page that would help her with that decision.
|The Girls with their favorite card: God's Big Story|
I spoke with children whose parents were incarcerated, orphans, those in public schools, Christian schools, and Muslim schools. I was also privileged to visit one of the Watoto campus's and interview a few of their kids and I believe that experience pretty much summed up many things I noticed throughout Uganda. I first talked to a few kids that were new to Watoto, they were quiet and shy. They still were uncomfortable with strangers and had a lot of hurts to be dealt with from past abuse and abandonment. They were learning and could tell me the stories from God's Big Story without problems but still needed something more. But then the others who have lived in a loving nurturing environment for a while spoke easily and confidently about their personal stories and their experiences of ministering to their peers. And it is in those kids I knew Uganda was in good hands. Both situation still exist in Uganda today, but what I noticed was where the Word went deeper, true healing and transformation took place and there are indeed pockets of that throughout. Photos: OneHope Uganda
ACT TWO: This is where I met up with a team of 14 from my church (Victory) and 26+ others from 8 different nations to do some amazing ministry with Adonai Partners literally to the "least of these". I was so happy to be in Africa with some of my own people. It just made me proud seeing people I knew step up and help others. I felt like my leadership skills were suddenly catapulted into another level as I was asked time and time again to speak on various topics to pastors, kids, women and the team. I have to say that the knowledge I acquired just the week prior in my interviews came in handy on several occasions.
Heading up to Gulu was very eye opening. While I had been confronted with extreme poverty before in places like Haiti and West Africa I was able to do ministry for a short time and leave. But this was different as we ministered to the same people all day for several days at a time. There was no quick escape. It was disheartening to have 200 kids for 8 hours who were literally starving, who are so lethargic that they just sat there. Those who craved attention so badly and anything you could give them. We gave them what we could...the Word and a meal, but it just didn't seem like enough. I can say that I am still trying to come to grips with it because it was an experience I was not prepared for. We used God's Big Story which they loved, lots of songs and games. And when our interpreter grew weary we did a lot of mimic games and taught English word to things we could point out.
The rest of the team was involved in Medical clinics and I am happy to say did a great job helping it to run smoothly. They saw patients all day long and at the end of the day we all came back to the hotel sufficiently worn out. We also did community cleanup, a technology workshop, medical & health training, a leadership conference, women's and children's meetings just to name a few things. It was so cool to see everyone speak, pray or do whatever was needed. And for that this leader was very satisfied. See http://www.422churchmissions.blogspot.com/ for more. Photos: Uganda 422 Church
ACT THREE: This is were I succumbed to exhaustion and the flu and were I learned to let go. One of my concerns going into this was letting go. Having led teams for a different organization I knew having to do things a different way would be a challenge. I was surprised at how easy it was. Okay, I caught myself saying a few times in the beginning..."this is how I would do it", but then I immediately stopped. The one thing that was hardest was the children's ministry, but then I got sick and had to let go. And you know what...things continued without me. We had a good core group that knew what they were doing.
It's been a long non-stop year without much rest. Unfortunately, I had to come to Uganda to realize I needed a break and need to slow down once in awhile. But it was a point well taken. It was a blessing not to have to travel home alone and to know people were looking out for me...but not an experience I want to repeat (the flying while sick part). For the first time in a long time I do not have another trip lined up. That probably won't last for long but I am okay with that for now. I think it's finally time to process life after full/part-time missions.