I'm in the middle of my 10th month of living in Uganda. Almost a year has gone by and I can barely believe it! Life here seems so normal at times...and then other times, it feels like complete insanity. But, mostly, it's life. I've adjusted to this life and I love it.
This past week, there have been two moments where I got a glimpse of the great plan of God.
Moment #1: It was fall of 2002, my sophomore year in college. I had yet to declare my major and was debating what to do. I was thinking either Psychology or Communications. Due to randomly taking three Religion courses that semester and starting my new job as a student worker in the School of Religion, I started playing with the idea of minoring in Religion. It was a huge step of faith for me that I remember well. I was walking up the stairs by the Hangar as I debated all of this in my head. It was as though I could hear God asking, "do you trust me enough to major in Religion?" It was a question that stopped me in the middle of those stairs.
My first response? "No."
After much debate, I surrendered to Him. My life was His which meant that my degree was His as well. God had led me to get my undergrad in Religion which I saw zero future in. I mean, what kind of job can a girl get with that? I'm now qualified to lead a Bible study? Sweet.
Fast forward. It was fall of 2005. I had graduated that spring and was planning on going towards my Masters in Counseling. It was a great plan, really. I had this oh so useless undergrad that I had no future job with and wanted to partner it with a practical masters that I could get a job and have a decent future with. I had to take a statistics class in order to get into the program. I detest math with a passion and hated that class even more. God started working on my heart: "I want you to go to Seminary". Um, say what, God? Are you kidding me? One useless degree wasn't enough? It was our biggest fight. I did NOT want to go to Seminary. Did He WANT me to never have a paying job? Or at least a degree that would enable me to get a job? At last, I surrendered, kicking and screaming the whole way. Our next fight happened when the Intercultural Studies degree was created. I remember sitting in Ministry Chapel as they announced it thinking, "I'll never get that, even if I do go into missions. There's just no point". I swear God finds humor in these thoughts of mine, especially the ones where I say "never".
I remember looking at the job description for what I was to be doing here and wondered if I could really keep doing an administrative job. I'd done it for the past four years. I knew it wasn't my heart and passion but I wanted to first see if I would actually like living in Africa. Sure, I'd been to Kenya on two short term trips but what would it be like if I actually lived there? It was a means to an end. I wanted to see not only if I could live in Africa but what possibilities there were and what I could do. I mean, I had those useless degrees, right?
These past 10 months God has given me a love and passion for the high school girls here. A Bible study was started but bigger than that, relationships began. God overflowed my heart with a love for them. Their need for discipleship is indescribable. They've never had it. It's been said many times that "Christianity in Africa is a mile wide and an inch deep" and for many of these girls, it's true. They've never been able to truly go from the Bible stories they've heard in Sunday School to grasping how they live in relationship with Christ. As I've been able to talk more with girls one on one, it's been amazing to glimpse into their every day life. Heartbreaking, mainly. I feel as though I'm bursting with His love for them.
This realization came a couple nights ago when I was discussing my future with my roommates. Now that I can see what kind of ministry I could get involved with here, I'm wondering how to go about future plans and such. It hit me: what is needed is sound Biblical teaching. What I have are two degrees worth of information that God allowed me to get for such a time as this. Oh gosh, did you just get chills? I did.
Moment #2. I just started language study today in Luganda. There's over 50 tribal languages in Uganda and with English as the national language, there isn't a need for me to know one of the tribal languages since I'm based in Kampala where most everyone speaks English. However, I want to. I want to understand the culture on a deeper level. I want to be able to communicate with people in their native tongue. And darn it, I want cheaper prices at the market. I'm not great at languages. I didn't excel in Spanish in high school (when the teacher would tell us what page to turn to in Spanish, I'd ask my friend what page to go to) and never really dedicated myself to any other study. However, I started studying Swahili while in Seminary. I knew a girl who grew up in Tanzania and with my strong interest in Kenya, I wanted to learn. The timing wasn't the best. I was working full time, taking a full load of Seminary classes and attempting to not go crazy. Attempting to learn a language was not my focus. I did learn some from it but would need a huge refresher if I were to ever attempt to speak it again.
My first lesson in Luganda was today. It was overwhelming. We went over the formal greetings for the morning and afternoon...and that filled up our hour long session. What was amazing to me was the general similarities with Swahili. They're both Bantu languages which gives them that similarity. I never realized how that random studying of Swahili would ever come to play again. And who knows, it still might not make a huge difference...but I know it will help. It will also help living in the area that I can speak this language and practice it. I never knew how those lessons would come into play. That God had put the desire in my heart to learn Swahili for such a time as this.
There's many more moments and that will continue the rest of my life. His plans are huge. They're so much greater than my own. At the time, they made absolutely no sense. I wasn't happy, especially about my education. This was NOT the direction I ever saw my life going. But, thankfully, He is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. He put these desires in my heart and then fulfilled them. He has such a greater plan for my life than I could ever dream of.
And truly, I'm living my dream.