I find myself at the close of another hand in hand walk with God through the growing pains of Kirabo Seeds in Uganda. The rhythm I follow flows with the school term of the children, as they are released for holidays we appear, and as they endure long days and weeks in their studies I am on the other side of their world preparing for the next adventure with them. I grow spiritually with each visit I have in Uganda. It’s not an easy walk in the meadow on a spring morning. It’s more like living my own nightmare.
My greatest fear is to be alone in the ocean where land cannot be seen and I am there with nothing but my own buoyancy. That’s the most vulnerable condition I can imagine myself having to endure. I do almost anything to avoid being on open water like that. But when the nightmare comes, after I struggle a little, I surrender, and I can see God and me together there. I find him there. I am not alone. The strength of my faith would not plummet but rise higher than I could ever imagine. Removed of all my securities, all my resources,stripped naked, it makes me vulnerable and what do I find? All of myself belongs to God. Of course I would be scared, but all that danger is out of my control. Complete trust and faith in the one who promises never to leave me is all I would have. Maybe this is all I need…ever.
How can I be sure I don’t drown in my nightmare? Because often that’s how I feel when I come to Uganda to develop Kirabo Seeds while we strive to do God’s work in orphan care. I’m in a culture not my own, like the ocean. This makes communication an ever present challenge. There are traditions, customs, beliefs, strongholds, and habits here that cause me to feel like we have hit roadblocks or dead ends with every tiny effort…storms at sea.
Sometimes I fear all we have labored to do can disperse in a moment and be gone. I fear the flesh eating sharks all around here, whether that be a rapist on a dark corner, the government, greedy enemies, ruthless uneducated thugs, or just plain ignorance.
We lost sweet Boniface this year when his little body, infected with HIV, couldn’t fight the childhood disease of chicken pox. Three days and he was gone. That’s the worst outcome I can imagine in caring for these children, and yet we came out of it stronger. But I continue to grieve not only for the loss of his potential to do good in this place and his happy ways, but because with one vaccination he could have been with us here, now. It is heartbreaking to know prevention is available and yet see so many perish without it. My response fluctuates from fury to despair until I finally arrive at surrender. And I remember that’s where God always wants me: surrendered and vulnerable.
I live with a mind that swims in possibility. I am optimistic, creative and unhindered when faced with a problem. I love to explore various solutions to a challenge. Here, I find I struggle against people with a fatalistic disposition. “This is the way it is. That’s all there is.” No! A broken window pane can be fixed, it doesn’t have to cut everyone in the home or welcome every malaria carrying mosquito all night long. Faulty electricity has a solution if we inquire deeper into the problem. Children with pockets of pain in their heart can heal from the talking cure, they don’t have to carry it every day of their lives as a crushing burden.
Sometimes here where there are always so many people everywhere I look, friendly, curious faces, shy waves, interested eyes, long stares….I feel so alone, like that nightmare of mine in the ocean. I am coming to see that’s what God wants me to find when I come here. I tread water and reach out until I feel his presence is the water surrounding me, keeping me afloat. Then I am sure anything is possible. Because he promises with him anything is possible. My nightmare turns into a daydream because when I follow God, trust Him, believe his promises, then I am safe and on the journey where roadblocks are absurd. God can make me into a tank, or a horse with wings, or a raft.
This trip I thought I might be a tank, but instead by the grace of God we flew and the solutions to our problems were nothing short of miracles delivered on a pretty platter served to us by angels. I’m not saying it was easy or that we didn’t struggle. We just never could have seen the outcome when we were in the trial. Only God can do what he does here for these children.
Obviously I can’t talk about specific details about the lives of these beautiful children of God. Trust me though, they are walking with a great and mighty God who will see them through every step of their journey. If ever they have the opportunity to face their greatest fears, (like mine in the ocean alone) I know they are growing the kind of faith where they will lean heavy into God and come through to the other side not only triumphant but stronger. My prayer is they will have a contagious faith and generations of people after them will be infected. If that happens, then everything I have given for the cause will worth it. No. It’s worth it because I know I am inside God’s will for my life, and any other way is the nightmare.