Some days when we are in Uganda it feels as if we are running on a treadmill, all worn out and getting nowhere. Other days it feels like we have loaded two weeks worth of work into one day. Yesterday was one of the hard working days. When I sunk into my bed after working eighteen hours my mind would not stop running through questions I don’t yet have answered about how we can best operate here to serve the children. My body shrinks from loss of appetite due to such intense work and yet I feel as if I weigh double when I sink into the bed.
We all made sure we had a good quiet time with God in the morning before beginning our day. Miss Allie mentioned the night before that she hasn’t had enough time alone with God since arriving and she could feel the distance growing. She also said, “we can’t pour out on others if we aren’t filling up ourselves with God’s word.” That’s good wisdom from a fourteen year old girl.
After breakfast we loaded up the vans to go to the church, J Land, where we visited the Sunday before. This is the church I hope to become the home of our children. We’ve been planning a Leadership Conference for the people of the church. Craig and Mark were prepared to teach about what it is to be a Christian business leader as well as how to practically begin a business and grow it.
The men brought the women and children along to the conference. Our teenagers took the children outside to play games, do skits, color, and read stories. Gaylynn, Erica and I sat the women in a circle in front of the church for our own teaching.
Normally I would spend months preparing a carefully planned outline full of references and examples and I would be so nervous to get it all in and do it just right. But there hasn’t been the luxury of time. So I was forced to remember it is God who works through me whether I am prepared or not. As long as I maintain a focus on His work He will guide my mind and heart. And he did.
I know what a Ugandan woman’s life is like. I know when I sit in front of a group of women who do not know me and I do not know them that I first must let them know I am the same as they are. So I began by giving them my testimony about what sort of person I was before God was in my life, and what God has done with me since I made him Lord of my life. It’s as big a difference as the black pimply skin of an avocado and the green and yellow creamy flesh inside. God has changed me completely.
Gaylynn shared her testimony and explained why she lives every day grasping the serenity prayer:
God grant me the peace to surrender the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Then she challenged the women to write down one thing they are thankful for and one thing they need to surrender to the Lord. We gave them time to think and then invited them to share their gratitude and struggles. Many women stood and gave their testimonies as we had done. We had a good sharing time and bonding, I was pleased that we could all see that though we come from different cultures we share many of the same struggles and God is over us all and works through us all for his good.
Erica gave her testimony, and though she was so nervous and shy to share God gave a tremendous message through her. Erica spent some time in her life angry with God because she could not have children of her own. It wasn’t until she began to pray, “God if it is not your will to give me children take away the desire from me”. And he did. That’s when she discovered the passion for orphan care and began to get involved with our projects. God taught her that his plan is better than her plan, and He is faithful even when we don’t get what we ask for. This is a great message to share here with people who believe that money will solve every problem.
Finally I shared with them the legal struggles I have had here in Uganda this year and how God has remained faithful to the calling He gave me to care for orphans. We persevere even when it is difficult, in the same way these very women must persevere with God’s design for their life though it is full of struggle and strife.
That’s when the women said, ‘I thought you were going to teach us how to start up a business.’
I sighed. Expectations. Ok. I told them after the meal we were providing they could join with the men for an instructional time on basic business planning and development. They nodded with satisfaction. Later, Craig, Mark and I gave them simple instructions on how to start up a business.
I can only hope someone was encouraged for God.
The meal was cooked by local women in the church of rice and beans, and they did not have any forks. Our team was starving by two o’clock, many of them coming to me asking where is the food? We were supposed to eat at one, but it came available at 2:30. Every child that complained of hunger got the same response from me, “some of these children can go days with this feeling so think about that”. Maybe going a little hungry and then being offered food they don’t like and having to eat it with their fingers is one of the best lessons they could get this week. A few of the team members chose to eat rice and beans with their hands. The rest (of us) discreetly ate protein bars. I figured it wasn’t offensive because we provided the free meal. If they had sacrificed the cost to feed us we would have all taken a plate.
I think it is funny to mention that when it was time to eat, there were twice as many people there than when it was time to learn. At the end of the day we gave some bibles to people who do not have their own and that was a beautiful moment for us.
While we were at the conference, Ronald, one of our children had to go to the dentist for an emergency toothache. He had to have four teeth drilled, and filled. Thankfully they used Novocain because we were willing to pay for it. He has gum problems too. I figure we’ll have to make a schedule to take children to the dentist and get them all worked on. It’s terrible to see young children with such rotten teeth.
At home we had a nice meal and then Craig and I lead a business meeting with our team here including: George, Phiona, Johnmary our lawyer, Nakato the police investigator, Abdul , Herb and Ellen. It was the first time since our arrival to discuss all the matters of running an orphanage and planning to build. We are so thankful to have so many willing minds to give their time to us and help us help the children. The result of the meeting was a long to-do list. Hence, the marathon of questions I take to bed with me.
Today? We are going to do it all again! (pictures will be added tonight. We lost power and I can’t get internet in time for our program.)