Today!!! Oh, my heart.  As I write this, it is so heavy, but at the same time, filled with joy.  My tears are uncontrollable and I’m not sure if they are tears of joy or of sadness.  I’m guessing it’s a little bit of both.  I have been on a mission trip with Sweet Sleep before, and so far this year I haven’t been inspired to write.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I wrote at all last year, although the trip was definitely life changing! This morning I prayed that God would move in my heart and reignite the fire He sparked last year.  Well, our God never lets us down!
When we arrived in the remote village we were received with the usual welcoming dance and tons of thank yous, curtsies, and bows.  But today was a little different.  They put on a skit for us.  It was about how they normally sleep and the happiness they felt that their children would receive a beds. Something in me moved, as the reality of what we were about to do sunk in.  It was the Spirit of God.  I was touched in my core!  As the beds were delivered, I was refilled with joy and reminded of why God has us here.

He has not forgotten them.

After about 120 of 125 beds were given, my attention was turned to this one little girl.  In her I saw my young niece.  In her, I saw me. Her name was Monica.  As usual, there were more kids than beds.  As our partner who was helping to call the children up one by one to receive their beds began to call her name, he stopped after the first syllable. The hope and excitement in her face as she jumped up was quickly wiped away and exchanged with worry or fear.  In that moment I was so moved.  I pictured my niece or myself as a child in desperate anticipation.  I immediately was rooting for her to receive the gift. Thankfully, she did! But it was too late, my heart was ripped apart at the thought of any of these eagerly awaiting children not receiving a bed.  I began to cry and I had to walk away.  I couldn’t watch any of these children get turned away.  And then…in an instant I realized, they weren’t crying.  So why was I? I was ashamed to let them see me cry.

The strength and dignity that they show is remarkable, and they show such gratefulness to God in times of adversity.

Not one had on a pair of shoes.  Not one had readily flowing water.  Not one has any of the comforts of home that we do.  Actually most of them were sick and/or crippled. So why am I the one crying? I was crying because God answered my prayers and reignited the fire in my heart.  His heart is broken for these children, and mine forever will be.  He showed me the heart of this mission today, and we can’t stop.

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Jeremiah 49:11
Psalm 10:17-18

Jennifer Olsen

June, 2016 Gulu Team

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