I've been in Uganda now for almost seven months. As I've mentioned before, there is a community culture here, not individualistic. Relationships mean more than anything. But, as with every relationship, it deepens when you go through the layers. I feel as though I'm finally at the point in many relationships here that the layers have been peeled away and a true relationship exists. Seriously, there's this love in my heart that just wants to gush out! God put His love in my heart for the people of Africa 5 years ago. Now, I can look to specific people and friendships and have this overwhelming God-love for them. With every relationship, you start surfacey. The "how are you" and "what have you been up to" type questions. With some, there comes a point where deeper questions begin. There's a genuine care and love. There's a relationship being formed. There's also specific situations that melt my heart. Let me give you some examples.
I look at the friendships that God has provided me here. There are so many incredible God-serving people here that challenge the MESS out of me. I see them as they serve our King and I'm just amazed. As I've gotten to know so many better, I've been able to go deeper with them. Layer by layer.
Those Bible study girls. Gosh, I love them. Seriously. I look at them and love fills my heart. The more we are together, the more I realize how NO ONE else has attempted this before. No one else has tried to speak truth into their lives. No one else has tried to answer their questions. No one else has cared enough to...which is just baffling. These are GREAT girls. I see how God put these girls on Shammah and my heart. I see His timing. I see His incredible love for these girls. I see their life situations and my heart is broken. However, I see their potential and I cannot WAIT to see how God's going to revolutionize their lives. God has filled me with a love for these girls that I can't even describe. As we've discussed everything from our own personal lives to family to friends (and this Wednesday, boooys!), their questions have gotten deeper and deeper opening us into their lives more. I have seriously been amazed by their questions. I love that they feel free enough to ask. It's even led to some huge openings; deep and honest conversations. It's is my absolute honor to even be involved in these girls lives. Layer by layer.
And then there's those heartbreaking situations. I've truly held back on this blog on many things mainly because I don't want to exploit these kids or manipulate you as my readers. It's a hard line for me. However, I know that you pray for these wonderful children and such details help you to pray for them.
With my job, I get to know every circumstance of every child. There's no words to describe this. Reading these often makes me want to sob. Knowing that we're able to make such a difference in their lives is an honor. We recently had three new kids join our site here in Kampala. Their first day at Saturday club, I almost wept. Literally. For Saturday Club, I always wear my most casual clothes since we play games and run around with the kids. A lot of the kids dress up to come as it's a special thing for them to come to. The newer ones especially do this. These particular new ones came for our Fun Day. There I met Lawrence. He stood out as he was clearly wearing the absolute best clothes that he owned: a tattered button down shirt that was once white, navy dress pants that had been worn to threads and black dress shoes. Amidst the water balloon games and tug of war, he proudly wore his best. This was such a big deal for him. He knew his life was going to change drastically and he dressed accordingly. His timid smile revealed how nervous he was. I wanted to sit down and weep at the site of him. I knew what him and his sister had been through.
The third new one has a particularly heartbreaking story. Her parents have both died from AIDS and knowing her age, she had to have watched them die a terrible death. She was then sent to one of her uncles who sexually abused her. An aunt then took her in to spare her the constant abuse only to add her own. How we came to hear about her was because the aunt came by the office to give her to us. She no longer wanted to "deal" with her. After realizing that we provide sponsorship but don't house the children, she decided to keep her knowing that the child's school fees and more would be paid for. The girl is 14 years old. Can you even imagine what her self-esteem is after this? I've seen her thrive in these past weeks. She's gotten involved in Hope Alive! as well as the church. She is one that I always make sure to talk to every time; hugging her, letting her know how happy I am to see her and telling her that she is beautiful. She IS so beautiful. Reading her information sheet made me tear up. Such a sweet precious girl with loads of talent and a beaming smile.
Peeling an onion layer by layer can be like relationships. Sometimes it's painful and it stings. Each layer leads us to the core and though painful and difficult, it is WORTH it. I have been so honored to not only be here but to be allowed deeper into the layers of many people here. The more layers, the deeper the love. They each add such flavor to my life.
Right now, I hate that I have a time limit here. Though I have a year and a half left, it doesn't seem like long enough. I don't ever want to leave this place or these people. How did I get to be so lucky to be here doing what I love? Ah, can't wait to see what more God has in store...