I can’t even begin to describe my emotions the last few days, weeks, and even months! First of all, I want to start by praising God for even giving me a chance to go back to Uganda this summer. As most of you know, I’m finishing an undergraduate at UNF. Since my program is longer than most (I graduate in August, after a 350-hour summer internship) and I start graduate school for DPT at the end of August, my hopes and prayers for going back to Uganda were crushed. However, God had much bigger and better plans. After talking to my professor, I found out as long as I could cram my hours in before graduation, she didn’t see why I wouldn’t be able to go back to Uganda for a couple of weeks. God showed me awesome internship sites that allowed me to cram my hours and began opening all the other doors for my return to the place I left my heart.
Blake (my boyfriend of over 2 years) and I booked our flights and the excitement began to set in as I finished up the spring semester. However, God continued to surprise me because a few weeks later, my mom and sister also booked flights to come and serve alongside of me, a huge answer to prayer. When I was in Uganda in 2012, God laid it on my heart for my mom to go. She has never been out of the country or on a mission trip. I knew her heart for Christ and how much it would challenge and grow her in ways she couldn’t imagine. However, the thought of going to another country, without my dad, scared her. So I prayed for her heart to change. My team in Uganda and my discipleship group at church prayed for her. After two years of that, my mom booked her flight and took a step out of her comfort zone to go to Uganda with me! God does answer prayers and I can’t wait to spend time with her on her first mission trip and my sister (she has been on mission trips before and if school, money, or time wasn’t an issue she would have gone last time with me too). They arrive Tuesday this week, so if you’re reading this please pray for them! It’s going to be life-changing.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail,” Proverbs 19:21. After my first week in Uganda God has taught me so much. Not only to get me here, but the work done here. Honestly, I falsely assumed the village in Zirobwe were I served last time, was going to be just like it was last time I was here, since that’s how I left it. Sometimes I think God laughs at how foolish I can be because I’ve been praying for that specific village constantly the last couple of years. I’ve prayed for God to heal sicknesses, rescue children, provide incomes, and most of all show people the love of Christ. I always knew God was answering my prayers better than I could imagine, but like I said I underestimated the power of Christ. Thankfully God is faithful despite my lack of faith and his plans always prevail.
The village has changed for the good. There are fewer wounds and the children are significantly healthier. Abandoned and abused children have been rescued and many are now sponsored. The church is growing and more people know Christ. The women have been taught trades and have a source of income. More dads are investing in children’s lives. There is also cleaner water. There is still a lot of work to be done, but God is moving and alive here!
My favorite change I saw last week, was in the little boy I sponsor, Gerald. Many of you know about the tumor behind Gerald’s eye last time I was here. With the help of donations, we were able to remove the tumor and share with his family the love of Christ. His family is now involved in the church and his mom, sisters, and brothers, know Christ as their personal savior. During the time I was in Uganda, our relationship grew and he became like an adopted son to me. We were best friends and it was so hard to be so far from him for the last few years.
Last week we were reunited! I can’t describe overfilled with joy I was. Not only did he recognize me, but he also he came running to me with a big smile, hug, and lots of giggles. For months a whirlwind of thoughts and dreams about us being reunited went through my mind. Would he remember me? Would he think I left him and not trust me anymore? Would he like Blake? Is he growing and maturing? Does he love Jesus? To be honest, I assumed the worst and that he wouldn’t recognize or remember me. However, God showed me otherwise. Although the devil was attacking and trying to discourage me, I needed to trust God no matter what the circumstances were. Right before I left Uganda in 2012, God made it extremely clear to me that I would be back in the village, holding Gerald with more opportunities to pour into the life of him and his family. Like Proverbs says, God’s plan prevailed when I got back in the village, our relationship with him and his family was as though we were never apart! From morning to night, we played and giggled. He has changed so much! He’s still the kid who loves motorcars and falls asleep in my arms, but he trusts and loves other people too. He plays with his friends and has a big five-year-old smile on his face most of the time. Not to mention, he is the cutest kid in the world. He pays attention during church and VBS and he absolutely loves Blake! God has changed his life and his families. His older sister is smart and can translate for us now. She knows Jesus as her personal savior and we even spent time reading the Bible together showing each other our favorite verses.
I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly perfect God is with his timing and his plans! Psalms 37:4 promises, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” God has been so good the last few days and I can’t wait to see his plans for Blake, Nicki, my mom, and I the rest of the month! Keep praying for health, energy, and boldness for us, the team we are working with, and all the people we encounter!