This trip to Uganda was my third, and my favorite one so far! Personally, I feel like I experienced so much spiritual growth, and was truly inspired by all of the development and beauty that came from the work of Sweet Sleep in the lives of so many. Being home and having time to reflect on the work we have been able to do the past few years, I feel so reassured that we are being used by the Lord for His good, and that we are truly making a difference and a strong impact on the lives of many. It is so inspiring, as a young woman, to see the work of Sweet Sleep and its partners in Uganda aiding in the reconstruction of Ugandan women’s lives and giving back some of the dignity lost through tragedy and loss.
I have always really had a heart for children, which is one reason I think what we do as members of the Sweet Sleep family is so special. Being able to contribute to the joy of a child is one of the most rewarding things in the world, and being able to share God’s love with them makes it even more incredible. I’ve always thought that if I, specifically, could touch just one child’s heart and change their view on life for the better, then all of the time and effort would be worth it. I always just felt blessed to be a small part of the large contribution Sweet Sleep makes, but I learned on this trip that, if I am intentional, I have the opportunity to individually give a child attention and love that stays with them forever. This was shown to me greatly during our last day, while visiting an orphanage.
Two years ago, during my first trip with Sweet Sleep, I stepped off the bus at the orphanage for the first time and was greeted by hundreds of smiling faces and warm hugs. With so many children, I felt so overwhelmed with love and joy. A few moments after stepping off the bus, I felt a small hand holding mine. I looked down and saw the cutest child ever. She had the brightest smile and the cutest dimples under her eyes. While all of the other children stood in their places and sang for us, she stood happily by my side the whole time, and only got in line when it was time to give the children their blankets. One of our team members that year, Tim, brought a polaroid camera, so that he could take pictures and give them to the children to keep. It was such a great idea! During all of the chaos, Tim snapped a picture of the little girl and me and handed to her to keep. She was so excited, and showed it to all of her friends. When it was finally time to say goodbye, she squeezed my hand tight, waved, and then ran off to class. Initially, I was sad because I knew I would never see the little girl again. At the time, she was probably about 3 years old and I prayed she would grow up to know how loved and beautiful she was.
Two years later, this past week, we went to the orphanage like we have done the past two years. I was so excited to see all of the precious children and get to spend time with them. As soon as we got off the bus, we were greeted with singing and hugs. I had so many children surrounding me, but from the corner of my eye I saw a little girl run up to me from behind the crowd. She grabbed my hand and caught my attention right away. She was so adorable and she somehow seemed familiar. I really felt like I recognized her, but I thought there was no way I had known her before. After a while, the teacher made her go to class. She squeezed my hand tight, waved, and then ran off to class. Her teacher smiled at me and said, “She really missed you.” For a minute I was confused, but then I realized I must have met her before. I began going through pictures on my phone and found a picture from 2 years ago of a precious little girl. I looked at the picture for a minute and then realized it was the same little girl! I couldn’t believe it. Then I remembered what we had given her. Tim had given the little girl the picture and she cherished it. She kept that picture and waited for me to come back to her, and I did.
That little girl impacted my life in a way she will never know. I was not even able to speak to her, because of the language barrier, but I love her. She truly touched my heart. I realized from this story that we never really know the difference we are making while we are making it. I was so intentional with making that sweet girl feel loved and cared for two years ago, and she remembered me because of it. The joy and strong bond that came from the relationship I have made with this child shows me such reassurance of the difference we have made in Uganda. God truly does work in incredible ways. From this, I learned that every moment and interaction matters. Being intentional is so important and every interaction is an opportunity to show someone the love of Christ.
“Let all that you do be done in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:14
I will continue coming to Uganda every chance I get. There is something so special at work in that wonderful place. God has blessed me so much with opportunities to contribute in the amazing work Sweet Sleep is doing. This ministry is so powerful and impacts the lives of so many, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. <3
Sweet Sleep Mission Team Member