We’ve been in Uganda for a full two weeks now and have gotten into somewhat of a routine over the past week. Since our host wasn’t expecting us to arrive until 11/5, there weren’t any ministry opportunities planned for the week that we actually arrived. The Discovery Center hosted the Jinja International Youth Meeting, an annual meeting where grade 12 students from the UK and Uganda come together to discuss topics such as free trade, restorative justice and conflict resolution. We were able to form strong relationships with a handful of the UK students and got the opportunity to share personal stories testifying about God’s true character. One guy came as an atheist and at the end of the week was interested in being a Christian because he could tell there was “something different” about us and he wanted it. He flew back to the UK with a lot of things to think about and a desire to do a DTS. Another guy commented that our group had a lot of wisdom compared to most 18-20 year olds. Those particular students were able to reassure him that their wisdom came as a gift from God as they sought after and followed His ways, and not as a result of their high school studies. He, too, left wanting to do a DTS. Needless to say, our week of unplanned ministry turned out to be a fruitful one.
This past week, half of our team started volunteering at the local pre-school which is a ministry of YWAM. My friend Courtney and I volunteered to serve in the “baby” classroom, which turned out to be 3-4 year olds. The first day was fun and the next two days were a bit challenging. The teacher asked us to teach which was totally okay, but as soon as she walked out of the classroom the kids went crazy and we weren’t able to regain control until she came back in and silenced them by speaking one sentence in Lugandan. I wanted so badly to express God’s love, gentleness and patience to the kids, but I left at the end of the day feeling defeated. The next day I realized that I had been relying on myself to muster up God’s character without the Spirit’s leading. By myself I was only able to produce frustration and annoyance. Not quite was I trying to accomplish. Paul describes it so well in Romans when he says, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” I declared that I needed the Spirit to lead me in order to express God’s gentleness and kindness to the kids and that I couldn’t do it on my own; it’s just not possible. I was excited throughout the next day because it was a much better day! I’m thankful that God is so gentle and patient with me as He graciously reminds me that I desperately need Him.
We have also been volunteering at a local orphanage, which was founded by the dad of one of our team members. The way the orphanage is run is really cool. There are currently six houses and each house has eight children and a widowed mom who raises the children. It is a true picture of God’s character. “A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God sets the lonely in families.” (Psalms 68:5-6). In addition to playing with the kids, we’ve also been doing some practical things like slashing, the not-so-modern way of cutting the grass. A sharp blade attached to the end of a wooden stick and some bare hands is all it requires. We’ve also been doing our laundry the African way, wash buckets, laundry detergent and our bare hands. It has really made us appreciate the tools and resources we have back home that we take for granted.
The Discovery Center also hosted their annual sports tournament, where teams from eight local primary schools competed in netball, soccer and volleyball in hopes of winning the ultimate grand prize… a goat. The students from each school came out to support and all together there were about 250 players and spectators. We each got to referee for the sports that we personally play and my days of calling lines in high school immediately flooded my mind… angry parents screaming that the ball was out when it was really in and coaches throwing their hands up and yelling that the call was ridiculous. Thankfully, it wasn’t anything like that this time around. The coaches, players and spectators were all really great and we had a fun time. A girl from our team was able to lead five girls into a relationship with Jesus which was awesome.
We were presented with the opportunity to go into the village of the man who runs the orphanage for 1-2 weeks. We prayed about it as a team the other night and asked God if it was something we should pursue. After waiting on God for a couple of minutes, it was unanimous; we all felt like He was saying it was something we needed to do. We don’t have any of the details yet, but I am pretty sure we will go at the end of this month.
That’s all I’ve got for now, but I will leave you with some pictures from our time here and a video from pre-school.