I was remembering the exact moment when I fell utterly in love with Uganda. It was a force in my heart that exploded as a blender without a top, and hit me like a linebacker. In October 2009 I went on a mission trip with Omar Garcia as part of his Go Beyond team at Kingsland Baptist Church. Our job was to go to pastor’s conferences in remote areas of Uganda and teach them about the sanctity of life. My partner shared about fetal development in the womb and what the bible says about preserving life. As we prepared to teach I couldn’t imagine that this was new information. It just did not register to me. A child could see a picture of a baby in the mama’s tummy and know it was a baby.
But when we showed them the photos and explained how a baby grows in the uterus they moved to the edge of their plastic chairs to see and hear better. Their mouths fell open wide. They looked around the circle making eye contact with each other to be sure they weren’t the only one who just understood what this new information meant.
I taught about trusting the Lord with the uncertainties of our life, such as an unwanted pregnancy. They took notes, listened carefully, requested my list of scripture to read about it and then they spent an hour asking questions. These were intelligent, thoughtful, deep questions. That was the moment I threw my life in God’s hands and said “do as you will with me and I hope it means I can serve in Uganda.” (Next came our adoption of Kira, and then the adoption of this orphanage)
They are so hungry to learn. And God is so generous to teach through me. I just need to be willing to open up and share what I have learned, and what the bible says, connect a few dots and watch the “ah-ha” flood their faces. Heads bob, smiles spread wide and they will take this knowledge and share it. I have this urgency in my heart to carry these lessons to the children at the orphanage with a full out sprint. If I could run to Africa I’d lace up my shoes now.
All of the visits I have had with them before this trip have been busy, full and quick. First we were there for our adoption when I had just met them and was in shock over their conditions, wondering what role would I have to be useful to God there. The next time I saw them I brought seventeen other people with me. The youth group did all the teaching and we set up medical missions. But this time, it is just me. And God is preparing me for intimate one on one time with the children. He is filling my heart with subjects I want to discuss with them. He’s giving me questions to ask and stories from my life to tell. I imagine going for a walk to a grassy spot, sitting in a circle, leaning forward and we have a discussion of learning and sharing. And I will read to them and teach them. And I have this feeling now that when I am able to do this with these children, who call me Mama Tonya, I will again feel the explosion of God’s love erupt out of me. Someone better stand behind me just in case it knocks me over. That’s how powerful God’s love is when I open myself to it and allow it to flow through me…. Look out kids…Mama Tonya is coming to smear love all over you as if I can fingerpaint on your hearts with it!