Friday morning while I was having a tour of Craig’s new offices in San Antonio an email arrived on my blackberry from Elitia at the orphanage. It said, “get ready a surprise is coming”! My goodness did I need a surprise to fill me with joy. Honestly, anything that comes from the children in Uganda which might even indicate that their lives are better, tummies fuller, hopes brighter then I’m guaranteed to be able to walk over nails with bare feet. Just as I was to meet my realtor for the first time and I knew she was waiting for me in the lobby, the email from Elitia arrived. I’m never keen on making someone wait for me, but this time I had to sit at Craig’s computer and enjoy every single photo of the children wearing their new uniforms and shiny shoes. The first shipment had just arrived and so they were simply dressing up for a photo.
During a family relocation, the first look at a new place can be difficult and emotional. So much of me holds on to what I have and what I know. A significant chunk of me isn’t ready to think about moving yet. I want to be focused on the mission trip and a fine summer with all of my boys home having fun and the continued bonding with Kira which requires all I have to give. But it seems I don’t have that option. The move has to happen simultaneously.
Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children in Uganda and the look of excitement in their eyes drives me through the madness. It sustains me through all the unwelcome business in my life. It’s in many ways like seeing the face of Jesus. If their lives are improving and they feel loved and know they matter and can become all they want to be and should be then I will continue to move forward and enjoy the work of serving God by helping them.
Seeing them dressed for school and anticipating what is to come after their term break causes me to reminisce about when I first met them. Adams and Elitia had been working so hard just to get them some food they didn’t know one child from another, who was really orphaned and who was sent for free food from the community. I remember asking them to find out which children really needed the most help and let’s set some limits on who can participate and then see about meeting the needs of the neediest. Over a hundred kids had been showing up every day knowing they might get something to eat there. The reality is in most of Uganda everyone is struggling to just get the meals for the day on the table. It’s not unusual for an educated employed person to wake up and think, now, how am I going to eat today. If it isn’t the first thing on the mind in the morning, then it’s a sign things are going really well. Once we were able to find out which children really had no one to take care of them, and who had only a mother who couldn’t provide then we began to understand who we were helping. We interviewed each child to see what their stories were, what their physical problems were, and we asked them what they hoped for most. Every one of them answered, “I want to go to school.”
Back in January as we discovered these needs I remember feeling the request to go to school so overwhelming for us. I was thinking, how we might manage getting them fed and healthy. I wasn’t sure how we would meet those needs, and the idea of finding the funds for educating all of them seemed like an enormous obstacle. But no job is too big for God. By the middle of April we were given sponsors for all of the children to be able to attend school. To see how quickly this happened for them is a testimony to the power of the God we serve. It demonstrates how seriously He attends to the needs of the orphan. Seeing their joy as they anticipate going to school is the most rewarding sight I’ve ever seen. I thank God for allowing me the honor of participating in making this happen, and for all of the people who have partnered with us to help make this possible. These children are not alone in this world any longer. They have a support network hand drawn by the love of God that knows no boundaries.
***the older children are not present in this photo because they seek work in the community each day they do not have school.