Excited in Uganda to just show up!

It is very exciting when friends and family come to Uganda. Part of the excitement is because we love to be around our friends and family that we love. But, mostly for me, it is excitement because I love to see my family and friends catch the vision. When you love something so much that is from the Lord, it is natural to want loved ones to experience it. The vision is from the Lord. Today, in Masese, I got to see my brother, Ken, and his brother in law, Gary, catch the love and vision of Uganda.

We drove around to several places that I am involved with. They got to experience the love of Amani Baby Cottage, the love of the Crisis Pregnancy Center and the love of Masese! That is a pretty full day in Jinja! The majority of the families that live in Masese are single parent families. Masese is one of the largest slum areas in Jinja. I had to change the weekly Bible study in Masese from Monday to Tuesday this week, but the importance of just "showing up" each week is critical. One of the ladies in the village reminded me of that today.

Today, I shared my story a little more with them. Each week, I share more and more and each week, our friendship strengthens. At the end of the lesson, I asked if there were any questions and one lady spoke up and asked, "How long are you going to be coming each week?" Behind my sunglasses I could hide the fact that her question hit me like a big mack truck with tears that welled up. You see, in Masese, the 300 plus ladies and children that were present to hear about Jesus today, have not experienced consistency. They have experienced hopelessness, abandonment and people quitting on them over and over. And so......the question brought pain to my heart.

I shared today with the ladies and the children about HOPE and TRIALS. I have certainly had my share of trials and I explained to them why I could not talk loudly anymore. They could not believe that cancer was a part of my life. They laughed when I said that my friend is bringing me a speaker megaphone! I explained that God sent me here to be with them and that I was committed. When the sweet lady asked me how long I was committed, I simply answered "as long as God allows me to be here, I will be with you every week." I also explained that I would be traveling to America in the fall but that I would return if God allowed it. They began clapping and the happiness is really not about me at all. It is about teaching consistency, love and just "showing up" for those in need.

The next few weeks, I'll be visiting Masese and taking crafts and just spending time with the ladies and the children. I'm researching the area and trying to figure out the situation of the children with Pastor Andrew. There are many women that are taking care of children that do not belong to them. There are street kids living in Masese and I want to know where their families are. They show up each week to get a "sweetie". Today, Ken and Gary brought dum dums to share and they were so happy!

I am blessed to be working with Pastor Andrew of the Canaan Church in Jinja. He and I are making plans to really grow the women's ministry which is focused in Masese. We hope to be able to council, train vocationally, help with preschool and have continued Bible lessons in the future in a central location. Every person that I feel called to serve lives in Masese: abandoned women and children, orphans and widows. As I look around each week at the hands that are raised when I ask the question, "how many of you are raising children alone?" I'm reminded over and over the need for family focus.

The crowd of 300 ended with dance and song. They were so excited to be able to perform for us. What a blessing! There is nothing like the african drum and dancing. What an exciting day for Ken and Gary to experience. They are excited to go back to their home church and town to spread awareness. And, how exciting for me to see God's seeds grow and spread in a way that I never could have imagined. God is at work in Uganda and it is bigger and better than I could have planned. I am just here because the women can relate to a broken woman that has had trials.

As we were leaving, a sweet young lady named namayambo (I am sure that I am butchering the spelling) came up to me and Pastor Andrew worried about her baby boy. He was so hot with fever and lathargic. We asked how long her baby had been sick and she said for many days. We took her to the clinic that was nearby. The baby had 103.5 fever, malaria and pneumonia. The mama could not afford to take her baby to the doctor and was so worried about him. My sweet brother offered to pay for her care. For only 25,000 shillings (about 10 u.s. dollars) we were able to get the baby treated, medicine and an IV to start antibiotics.

It is no accident that I blogged about malaria in the previous post. God has really placed that on my heart lately and when I looked at the baby, I knew that he had malaria. Maybe I really didn't "know" but I felt like that is what it was. Fortunately, for Namayambo, it was malaria and it was caught in time to save her child. Maybe God called me to Masese today to spend an afternoon in the clinic with Namayambo and her sick, sick baby. Maybe it was to see that new excitement and passion through the eyes of new viewers like Ken and Gary. Maybe it was to simply talk to the ladies and the children and to say I care and that I will show up as God allows. Maybe it was to see the excitement in Pastor Andrew's eyes as we discussed working together with the women and the children.

Whatever the reason, I'm blessed and excited to be able to just "show up" again!
“To me it seems that to give happiness is a far nobler goal than to attain it: and that what we exist for is much more a matter of relations to others than a matter of individual progress: much more a matter of helping others to heaven than of getting there ourselves.” Lewis Carroll