Forever Changed and Forever Blessed

Well another week is in the books with the beautiful children of Uganda. I consider it such a blessing to have been a part of this Sweet Sleep team and our partnership with the New Kabaale Busenga Orphanage. We were able to have a special last day with the children while enjoying the opportunity to celebrate their birthdays. We had the priviladge of speaking God’s blessing over thier lives, as we reminded these beautiful children that they are beautifully and wonderfully made. It was such an honor to share with these sweet children one last time that God has a special plan and purpose for their lives. With part of our team arriving late due to travel difficulties, myself included, and a special afternoon spent at Blessed Hope, I felt like I finally had a chance to really connect with some of the kids today. There was James, who was so excited for his Bible so he could read from the book of James, and little Kevin who was always happy to be by my side. It has also been a blessing getting to know the staff at this wonderful school. The teachers seem to truly care for these children and they have been just as grateful for our presence as the children have been. It continues to amaze me all that they are teaching these students with such limited resources. It has been a blessing getting to know the likes of Ivan, Joel and Benson as they are so excited about the subjects that they teach, and the gift of a simple paper map of the world or a children’s book on animals can brighten their day, because they know it will bless their students. One of the greatest joys for me today and during this entire journey has been the extra blessing of sharing this experience with my father. Although this is my third journey with Sweet Sleep to Uganda, it is my father’s first, and I wouldn’t trade this time together for anything in the world. To see these children latch on to my dad, to pray over his life, and to simply find comfort in his touch has been a great boost to my spirit and to our relationship. It also makes me look forward to the day when I can share these types of expereinces with Gideon and Abel. I want to share a few stories before I end this post so please bear with me. One of them took place on Wednesday night at Blessed Hope Champions Academy. This is the orphanage where our team served last year, and I was excited for the opportunity to return, and to see the children once again. I was disappointed to learn that my dear friend Dallen was no longer at Blessed Hope, but my spirits were lifted by my friend Jonathan instead. Out of all of the wonderful kids that I had made connections with last year, Jonathan was one that specifically wrote many letters to my son Gideon during our stay, and his first words to me were, “How is Gideon.” Without a prompt he not only remembered Uncle Mike, but my child as well. He gave me a note as we left the orphanage grounds on Wednesday night and it was once again addressed to Gideon, saying that he will continue praying for him everyday.

We often say that we will pray for someone in passing, but rarely do we see it through with much consistency in our busy lives in America. What peace, hope and humility it gives me to know that an orphaned child on the otherside of the world is bathing the life of my son Gideon in his prayers dailly. We are certianly called to be a blessing on these trips, but the blessing has been all mine. Just as these trips do not end when we board our plane for home, it was confirmation that the impression that we make on these kids lives will live on for far to come as well.
Another aspect of these trips that I want to highlight as things come to a close is the often overlooked blessing of serving alongside some incredible men and women of faith. The team that God has assembled on this trip has been a truly remarkable one. Each member of our team has brought their unique talents, abilities, and even past hurts to be able to minister to these children, staff members, and one another in such a beautiful way. It is Christian community at its finest, and I can honestly say that I have been blessed by every member of our team this year in very unique ways. Thank you all for answering God’s calling on your life and loving the “greatest of these” during this remarkable journey.

Forever blessed and forever changed,
Michael Warneke