As the end of my trip was drawing near, Day 11 brought forth an awesome final ministry day in Uganda.
Our team headed to Sangaalo Babies Home to love on a handful of the sweetest babies ever!
Sangaalo is located near Jinja and was founded by an incredibly faithful and amazing woman, Damalie, who has had a heart for orphans her whole life. Sangaalo means Joy, and there was plenty of joy to be had and seen there! The words she shared with us as we sat on the floor in her home during a Ugandan rain storm spoke directly to my heart, and I knew that she was a strong woman of God. Her testimony is one of obeying God and taking the initial step of faith for the Lord to then prove Himself faithful to her. And we were witnesses to the joy and purpose and fulfillment that comes when a woman does just something in the Name of our Lord and how it makes all the difference. Makes a life-and the living-of a difference.
Sangaalo has five staff members including Damalie who care for fifteen orphaned babies. Theres was some of the best care we saw given to these children. We spent the day with them caring for the babies; playing with them, feeding them, bathing them, and changing an endless amount of diapers.
Sangaalo seeks to reunite babies with their original families before attempting to find homes for them through adoption. They have many needs including several items for the babies and the funds to build a new and larger home on the land that other teams have helped them purchase. Damalie trusts the Lord to provide for their every need. Not just for next month or next year, but for the very next day. You can learn more of their needs on their Facebook page (Sangaalo Babies) or through Voices 4 the Voiceless (voices4thevoiceless.org).
Her story, more than any other’s, stuck with me during my trip because I saw in her life what the Lord was asking from my own. He is asking me to fully trust Him. He is asking me to fully surrender to Him. He is asking me to fully obey Him.
Even when I have questions and don’t understand. And especially when, like Abraham, I do not see and have absolutely no idea where I’m going.
He is asking that I give Him the space to prove Himself absolutely faithful.
And by the way, He’s asking you the very same things.
And those babies were beyond precious, and maybe (I am hoping and praying!) the Lord has plans to someday set the lonely in my own family (Psalm 68) but right now, He is asking me to trust Him. To obey Him. To believe Him.
What is God asking of you? Is He asking you to be the Father to the Fatherless? Is He asking you to speak up and speak out for those who cannot and will never be able to speak for themselves? Is He asking you to live differently; with your time, your resources, your talents?
The reality is, He’s asking something of all of us, because we are all still so far from living and loving the way Christ did.
And just like Damalie, you and I will never know the fullness of the riches God has for us in this one life if we refuse to step out in faith and trust God. With our family, with our relationships, with our finances/job/career/talents/time, with everything. And this looks just as different for me as it does for you or the next person. But it will always look like losing your life for the sake of gaining it (Matthew16). Always.
As clear as day, through the life testimony of Damalie and through things the Lord has placed on my heart, He is saying to me, step out, believe that I am enough, trust me to be faithful. Because “God can’t steer you if you aren’t moving” and even if it changes the life of only one child, that is worth every moment, that is worth it all.
What is the Lord asking of you? Stay tuned, for tomorrow I’ll share more about what I believe God is asking of me.
Day 12 brought me to an unexpectedly hard day. Because Day 12 was our day of goodbyes.
I say unexpectedly, because I knew it would be sad to say goodbye to the children, but I did not personally expect to be so utterly ruined over the goodbye. As previously mentioned, I say goodbyes quite frequently in life. I don’t like them, and never will. And because I know how horrible they are, I find myself dreading them far in advance.
And so of course, I woke up Friday morning physically sick because of what was ahead of me.
I thought I was dreading it not so much because I had to say goodbye to the specific children who had strongly attached to me, but because of an overall having to say goodbye to these people and this land and this trip and all the weight I knew it held in my life. I was afraid of saying goodbye too soon, that I hadn’t fully understood what it was that the Lord wanted me to grasp from my time in Africa. I was afraid I had missed something.
But what I didn’t know at the time was that in fact, I had everything I needed. A firm reminder to trust the Lord and to step out in faith.
So when the goodbyes had to come, it was sheer surprise to me that saying goodbye to Moses and Pauline would nearly end it all.
I held it entirely together until Pauline broke down. And in a culture that shows no emotion, a waterfall of tears speaks volumes.
And what I realized in that moment will, Lord willing, stick with me to the end of time.
That visiting and caring for orphans and the distressed is wonderful and is certainly what the Lord commands us to do (James 1:27). But that will never change the utter heartache they know that is caused from the broken relationships of family. These kids at Canaan’s who can’t be adopted and will grow to be Godly men and women for Uganda have amazing care. They have food and shelter and education and opportunities. They have so much more than so many orphans. Their physical, spiritual, and mental needs will be met as best as they can.
But they will never know the love of family.
They will never know love unique to them. They won’t know bedtime routines, and snuggles, and encouragement and the attentive love of parents who specifically love them.
And even the children who are adoptable and will (maybe) have their physical, spiritual, and mental needs met, they will still never know this love apart from us doing something about it. Apart from them finding a forever home.
And if this doesn’t rip us apart I don’t know what will.
And this, this is why God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68). Because He knows how necessary families are. Because He knows the love we need that only families can give. And don’t we all know that? Even though our worldly families will always fall short, don’t we know what it’s like to be adopted into a heavenly one? And isn’t our own caring and adopting-in the fatherless a shadow of how we ourselves have been adopted in?
Even in goodbyes, it seemed the Lord had something to teach me. And in the tears of a young girl He reminded me that the caring and showing of love to those who rarely receive it, even in the best circumstances, means the world and so much more. That every hug, smile, kind word, encouragement, attention, and gesture of love is utterly huge to these children.
That we do something, and in the meantime we GO BE LOVE.
I said goodbye to those sweet faces and hearts that will forever be etched on my own, and I said goodbye to my team as we parted paths that final day. Because there was one more face and heart to make sure knew they were loved.
For a few hours into evening, I was able to spend my final full day in Uganda with sweet Racheal, the girl Bryson and I sponsor through Compassion.
Racheal lives about six hours north of Kampala in a village near Lira. We were able to coordinate her travel down to Kampala for a few days in order for me to meet her and show her how much Bryson and I love her!
Racheal is a very shy girl, and she was the first child of her entire Compassion program of 200+ to meet their Sponsor. And to top it all off, I was the first Muzungu she had ever seen! We spent the time coloring, talking, blowing bubbles, and reading together. Racheal loved the doll we gave her and it was the first she had ever received.
It was such a wonderful time with Racheal and Winnie, one of the Compassion leaders of their program in Lira, and it was certainly the icing on the cake of an amazing trip. I seriously recommend, if you ever get the opportunity, meeting the child you Sponsor. It will be an absolutely life-changing experience for your child and you will be beyond blessed in the meantime.
And the following day, the day I would head back home leaving my heart scattered across that foreign land, the Lord had one more encouragement for me. When one of the maids asked me where my daughter was, I was quick to explain who Racheal was and her relationship to me. But she was having none of that and interrupted me to explain,
“You pay her school fees? You help feed her? You support her family? You give her education?”
“Then she’s your daughter.”
She’s your daughter.
When we share our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into our house and cover the naked and not hide ourselves from our own flesh, (Isaiah 58) we’re taking care of our own, we’re taking care of the children of God. All these things we do unto them, we do unto the Lord (Matthew 25). And that is what it’s all about.
So it was fitting really, to spend my last moments in Uganda with my own flesh and blood. With Racheal, a precious child of God.