Crisis - These are people and a nation in utter crisis. More than I have ever experienced. Northern Uganda is victim of 20 years of civil war, followed by years of attacks by a rebel army, the LRA. Thousands of people have been killed, villages completely raided and destroyed, the children kidnapped and raped. The adults killed. Children becoming pregnant. HIV and AIDS spreading intensely and quickly. The people fled their villages and lived in government provided IDP camps. Thousands within one camp, with huts so close together they practically touch. No money, no families, NO HOPE. There are more orphans, raising their own siblings, than we can even start to think of. There is no one to protect these children, to take care of them, to nurture them. They are left to fend for themselves. Their parents have HIV and AIDS, many of the children do as well. These people are people just like us. They have emotions just like us. They feel pain just as we do. Who will care for them, teach them, love them? How will they learn to be the next generation to lead their nation with no one around to teach them? How will they learn to have families and love their own children? It could seem so overwhelming.
Hope - As we were flying to Uganda, I was feeling very overwhelmed by the situation we were headed toward. But, as I was reading and praying, God spoke LOUD AND CLEAR to me....there is HOPE. HE IS HOPE. HE is BIGGER than any person, any problem, any disease, any war. He is LIFE. He is GRACE. He is FORGIVENESS. HE IS GOD. He is the same God that we serve in America. He is ALL POWERFUL - beyond our wildest imagination. AND, the Ugandan people do not need our pity, our saddness. They need hope, they need love, they need help, they need Christ.
Though it seems that there are too many Ugandan people suffering to even know where to begin, God revealed to me that "It just takes One". We do not need to change the entire nation ourselves. That is not our job. We need to share God's love and hope with just the people that we encounter. Through the change of heart of just one person, God can use that person to affect others. God can move the mountains. An example of this was seen in a group of 5 teenage orphans there were rescued by one of our partners, John Michael. These orphans now want to be work for the ministry, become pastors, and start theif own ministries. Just a few. Share the hope and love, God will work the miracles.
Sponsorship - I cannot even start writing this, without crying. As I sit here, the tears are rolling down my face. I did not fully understand the sheer importance of child sponsorship until this trip. The number of orphans is countless. They have lost their families to war and AIDS. and disease. Many have HIV themselves. In a country with little to no money, the government does not pay for these children to have homes, not even in the orphanage. In order for children to stay, be fed, schooled, and receive any medical care, they NEED to have a sponsor.
It was at Destiny Children's Center that God nudged me toward sponsorship. We watched these amazing 900 children praise God with all of their hearts and souls. John Michael provides an awesome home, life, education, and faith nurturing for these children. BUT, they still cannot be provided for without sponsorship. I looked through our bio cards that we had with us, pulling a few kids that I thought Tyler and Makenna would connect with, when seeing the child's picture.
I was drawn to Abdalah. Abdalah's bio said that he lost his father to AIDS, and his mother was soon to die of AIDS as well. AND, Abdalah was infected with HIV. Without sponsorship, he would not receive any treatments or medicines. HE was the one.
John Michael called him out of the crowd of children. John Michael began to explain to Abdalah, that I have chosen to sponsor him, I crouched down by him. At the moment that Abdalah understood who I was, he LEAPT into my arms, flung his arms around me, and held on with ALL OF HIS MIGHT. I could not contain my emotions, and all around were crying as well. It was so intensely amazing. Abdalah and I spent the rest of the afternoon together - hand in hand. He showed me his bed, and we just sat and loved each other. He stole my heart. I pray that he can experience of glimpse of God's love through our family, a glimpse of God's goodness, of glimpse of God's mercy for his life.
This is Abdalah - Isn't He Wonderful?!
This is the HIV Moms Support Group
This Group of Boys Climbed a Tree to Bring Me this Jackfruit That They are Holding
Why Can't We Do This?
Pastor Patrick - Just One of the Amazing Ugandan Partners We Worked Alongside
This is Hope - She is the the Seamstress Class at the Vocational Center - I LOVE Her
Oh, Lunch - Beans and Corn Meal - Eaten with our Fingers
Bye Bye Mzungu