Although it started like all the other days, day 3 on our Ugandan mission trip was entirely different than the other days. Brooke led the morning devotion then we were off on a one-hour drive to the northwest. As we arrived, the people were assembled and waiting out on the main road and escorted the van into the village as they sang, danced and chanted along the way. As each member of our group tried to get off the van, they were mobbed by a loving and grateful group from the community. It was difficult for each person to get through the door because of the crowds pushing toward the van door. I was the last to exit and I began to get a strong sense that the spirit had come before us to prepare this location and these people for something special.
As each person stepped out, they were engulfed in a sea of warmth and love. Hugs and greetings abound! Yet, there was a level of despair and sadness there that was unlike the other communities. As I stepped off, a young girl around six or seven years old grabbed my hand, and she would not let go. As we were seated by the community leaders in our customary configuration to watch the introductory dances and formal welcome, the girl got right in my lap and that is where she stayed. It was not long before a younger little girl joined her in my lap. How precious they were!
The spirit was so evident there as the formalities continued. As usual, Madelene was asked to participate in the ritual and she easily became one of them. Madelene and Kurt engaged in a contest to see who could roll up and tie a bed the fastest. Kurt gave a good effort, but Madelene easily won. We followed this with our malaria education skit, some songs, and Jennifer and Amy sharing the gospel. They were wonderful and very prepared. Many people prayed to accept the Lord as they led a prayer of invitation. Thank you dear Lord! After all of that, it was time to play with the children. What a blast!
Once we finished with playtime, the bed distribution began. I was struck by how many disabled children there were in that village.
There were so many children with so many different types of challenges: physical deformities, mental disabilities, deafness and blindness. My heart was broken.
Because there is always more need than there is funding, a few children did not receive beds. It wasn’t as many as previous days, but still, one is too many.
After the bed distribution, I went to sit for a minute, and as I watched our team members interact with the children and begin to say their goodbyes, Madelene came and sat next to me and asked me for my thoughts. I tried to speak but could not. All I could say is that I was trying to keep it together. I began to sob and quickly got up to move away and compose myself.
As we were loading up to to leave, I heard Brooke yell and as I saw her she waved to me to come back from the van. My little friend wanted to hug me goodbye. Her name was Prossy. I was devastated to leave that community, yet so thankful that God allowed me to share in this experience. As I write this, I am recalling our team devotion on Tuesday about our time on Earth and making our days count for Him. Psalms 90:12 says to “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 62:12 says, “you reward everyone according to what they have done.” And Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward each person according to their ways, according the fruit of their doings.”
This whole experience is very difficult to understand. There is no way to tell you in words the plight of these children. You must experience this firsthand. I pray for grace and mercy for my Ugandan friends, and for an unwavering focus to make every day count for Him.