I have prayed for many things over the years. Some things vitally important, others more trivial. When we began praying that our peanut butter would make it though the checked baggage weight inspection it was only the tip of all we had been feverishly praying for these past several weeks, and indeed, of much that was to come.
A team of eight left Nashville on Friday headed to Northern Uganda. And Jen Gash, the reason Sweet Sleep exists, was booked from Orlando, to meet us in Washington DC. The purpose of this journey would be to provide beds, bibles, and mosquito nets to 470 children in Gulu, a war torn area where almost a million people still live in IDP camps. The children we would be serving all have HIV/AIDS.
Not even a week ago Sweet Sleep received word that the bible distributor in Uganda from whom the bibles had been purchased, was out of stock. With a day’s notice, LifeWay generously donated 497 bibles to be taken with us for distribution among children in Gulu, as well as to children in an orphanage in Kampala. Though transporting over a half ton of bibles across three continents was not easy, our small team of 9 had exactly, to the ounce, enough checked baggage allowance to get the bibles to Uganda. To the point that we were nine bibles over weight; one bible for each of us to hand carry from our home to a child in the most remote stretches of Gulu.
Prayers continued to flow as first Jen’s orlando to DC flight was canceled, forcing her to reroute to Newark. Ultimately she had a mere 35 minutes to make her connection flight to Brussels, but still did, as did her two boxes of bibles. And once at Entebbe airport through lost carryon luggage to one lost box of bibles, culminating with a stop in customs to have our bible boxes cut open for inspection, our prayer needs grew.
But just as God was faithful in His provision of bibles and a means to get them to Uganda, He has been faithful to our prayers for safe travels. We spent the night in Kampala and woke this morning refreshed and with a new conviction of the importance of providing sleep and the promise of God’s love to orphaned and abandoned children.
This morning it was my delight to worship with the children of Africa Greater Life orphanage. It was that orphanage, many journeys ago, that stole my heart. It is that orphanage, and many others, that have consumed my prayers for two years now. Holding an especially deep place in my soul are Ezra and Sam, twin boys who have been at AGL since 2007. When I met them they were small, thin, and timid. Today they stand out as leaders. They are 13 now. They are advancing in their studies, a task they had not been successfully doing in the past. They are as tall as I am and they are robust. They showed me their beds, now two years old, neatly made. Their nets, worn but still working — Ezra told me he had not been sick since he got his bed. And they showed me their bible, the page edges blackened and dirty, the cover stripped of the glossy finish, and the spine completely absent. It made me rejoice at the thought of my boys pouring over the book, learning stories of God’s love and of their own salvation through Christ our Lord.
Now I sit, pecking this out on a handheld device as I ride alone in a truck full of luggage, looking ahead of me to the team that will soon arrive in Gulu Town. My heart aches at the sites and stories we are soon to see. But alas I am grateful and hopeful for the time we will share with 470 chilren in the coming days. They are excited for their gift of sweet sleep, especially the nets that will provide protection against malaria; a disease against which HIV/AIDS has left their bodies defenseless.
Just as the story of this journey does not yet have an end, neither will our prayer needs, and those of this country, ever end. Pray with us for our continued safety. Pray that God speaks through us and connects us with the children in a meaningful way. Pray for Sam and Ezra and the more than ten thousand children who are now sleeping sweetly. And pray for the 470 children whom we are soon to meet. May God fill them with His glory!