We have traveled fourteen thousand kilometers to work here in Uganda. Why would I do that? Why would I do it every three months? Especially after the novelty of experiencing Africa has worn away it would be natural for me to find my attention drifting to new unchartered places.
I think back when I was 24 years old and I gave birth to my first son, Donny. This little person gave me a job to do that I could never have been equipped or able to do. It was exhausting and often confusing as I tried to make the correct choices. The only thing that could make me persevere in that difficult task was LOVE. Because I was flooded with a love for this baby I was willing to do anything to figure out how to do this mothering job even though I had no idea what I was doing or what I would do next. And that little guy exhausted me to my very limit then demanded more.
Cross cultural orphan care is as difficult a task for me now as it was when I tried to learn to be a mother for the first time. My degree in missions comes from the school of hard knocks. Oh my, I will one day tell the stories of how difficult our path has been to achieve our beautiful family of 17 orphaned children. Those labor pains make birth seem like a holiday in comparison. Why would we persevere under such pressure and opposition? What was in us to carry on? Everyone would have understood if we gave up. The bravest soldiers know when to raise the white flag. Where was ours?
LOVE is the source of my curious drive to work in this culture. This is not the ordinary love that comes when we feel good and it is pleasurable. The source of the love that drives me comes from God and like a pitcher he fills me up so it will pour out. There’s no choice but to spill it when there’s so much of it coming in. The obedience and surrender to his will for my life is what determines where this extraordinary love will spill. It might have been nice and easy to spill that love into a home on the ocean where we could enjoy relaxing family time reveling in the majesty of God’s creation with each wave that crashes the shore. I could really “love” decorating a place with ocean views and perhaps riding my horse along the shore at a full gallop. That dream wouldn’t have aged me as much as this work in Uganda.
No. There’s no leisure in the plans for my life. Long ago God put a love in my heart for the people and culture of Uganda. I can only shrug because I am not sure why it hit me so hard. I also loved Shanghai, Chile, Italy, England, Ireland, France and Costa Rica. For goodness sakes, I love the beach. It was a different smashing love that knocked me over when I experienced the people of Uganda. I can try to explain why but it will surely fall short. I especially am drawn to the women because they carry the full load of responsibility. It is so rare to see a strong man leading a family here, most of them abandon their families, die in accidents, or from HIV/AIDS. The women work the land, take care of children, cook, clean, do laundry by hand, and try to do any small business they can to earn the money to pay school fees for their children. And when I greet these women they are warm, hospitable, and stoic. Their lips drip words of praise to a God who keep them alive and thanks for what little they have.
After my first experience in Uganda in October 2009, Craig and I followed the prompts we felt in our hearts to adopt a child from here. Surely we could help just one of the two million orphans in this country. When we adopted Kira, we prayed for and sought a ministry opportunity to serve the orphaned children in this country. And along that journey we got an excellent education about the darker side of working here. We went head to head against the corruption, greed, fraud and exploitation of vulnerable children. We suffered. There was no epidural for those labor pains. I am sure I often cried to God for relief. At the end of the day he took me to my very edge of my endurance.
The odd and unexpected result of our problems was that Craig and I were more committed than ever to continue to help orphaned children here. The love we had didn’t diminish it intensified. We had to learn how to avoid the conmen and fraudsters and do this work for the benefit of the neediest children. And we could see how rare it was to actually get the aid to benefit the children.
Only an uncommon love could move us to do this work. This uncommon love comes from an uncommon God who did the uncommon for mankind by sacrificing his only son. Jesus took our sins upon himself so we could have forgiveness and fellowship in eternity with a holy and perfect God. It’s that kind of love that makes this kind of work in Uganda possible. I am as undeserving of what Jesus did for me as the children in our home are undeserving of being chosen for Kirabo Seeds among all the other orphans in this country who suffer. There are others here who suffer more and we wonder why did God select these children to come to our care? We are giving them the ideal family life. That’s the plain truth. There are so many others knocking on our door hoping to get in but we are full. The sign outside reads “no vacancy”.
Yet the love flows and we can’t help but reach out to the community where our children were found. Who knows what God will show us to do there. I only know the love I feel for these jjajjas is intense and we are willing to serve God in the way that is best for them. I want you to know every child comes from either an aunt or old grandmother who still has several and in some cases up to nine more children in their care that are not their own.
The greatest paradox is that in all the difficulties there’s a peace and joy that no view of the ocean could offer. There’s a purpose to my life that catapults me out of bed in the morning faster than decorating a home could do. There are places in my self I discovered that I would never have known if I hadn’t endured this journey. I am dependent on God completely, humbled and reduced. I have perspective after working here in Uganda that keeps my feet on the ground in America. Working for a cause greater than myself is honestly, a relief. Knowing I spend myself for the work of God to benefit orphaned children satisfies my deepest needs. I count myself blessed to have the opportunity to serve God this way.
Returning to America is bittersweet. There is always a part of me here. When I get home I’m going to be so thankful for electricity when the night time comes. I’ll dance in my own hot shower. I’ll be so happy to eat strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. I am so hungry for a salad. And oh my goodness it will be fun, yes I said fun, to do laundry using a machine that does all the phases of the wash for me. As I write now my hands hurt from wringing out laundry suds, and again from the softener, and again from the final rinse. Yes I have perspective that is priceless. And as I pour out love over the people in this country the love in me does not empty, it intensifies and improves. That’s so God.