As I come to the conclusion of my four months here in Uganda, it’s difficult for me to put into words what this experience has meant to me. I don’t know what kind of eternal impact has been made since I came, and so this report really won’t be a report. However, I am very aware of how I myself will forever be changed as a result of my time here.
Before I came to Uganda, I was an overachieving workaholic, bent upon pleasing both man and God at the same time. I could handle it all; that is, until I couldn’t. I was working multiple part time jobs and literally never had a day off. I was the only person I knew who would request off work in order to go work somewhere else. I distinctly remember several moments this past summer when I was overwhelmed and thought to myself, “If I can just make it to Uganda, it will be okay.” I practically ran onto that plane on August 19, knowing deep in my heart that some serious healing was going to take place.
For some reason I thought that, along with such healing, my personality would change and that I would suddenly have the gift of evangelism once I came to a foreign country. I was convinced that the pieces of ministry that I had always loved would fall away into something else. Needless to say, I had not yet realized that all this time God had been equipping me to do the work that was so needed during this specific season at University Discipleship Movement.
Never would I have anticipated having the opportunity to write fundraising material for a university women’s hostel. This combines so many different things that I love, from hearing people’s stories to empowering women to writing and photography. This project in itself was enough to help me see why God called me to Uganda in the fall of 2019. When I go home two weeks from now, this will be the thing that my heart will long to share with others. I praise the Lord for bringing me here to be a part of something so wonderful!
If writing wasn’t something I anticipated doing while here, no words can explain my utter astonishment and joy when I began teaching ballet at Heritage, and later on to the Coppedge girls. That was such a lovely and tender gift from Jesus, to comfort my heart with the familiar. He didn’t have to do that, but He knew my heart and knew that I would find life in it.
As most overachieving workaholics would agree, planning is everything. But here in Uganda, expecting your plans to go off without a hitch is simply not a thing. I cannot tell you how many times I would walk into the UDM Palace to find Abigail stressed out because there was no speaker for the weekly ladies’ meeting. Every time I would respond and say, “Okay, hand me a Bible,” and spend the next 45 minutes in prayer over the group that I was about to lead. I wish I could explain how deeply out of character that is for me, to do ministry without days upon days of preparation. But the Holy Spirit’s presence was so evident in each of those meetings, leading and guiding my words to share what He wanted, not what I wanted.
I also had no idea that I would be able to travel and experience so many other pieces of ministry while I was here. I went to Buvuma Island twice. I visited four refugee settlements in four days on a Tutapona trip. I went to camp. I explored Murchison Falls, which is not ministry but was still really fun. I’m still (and probably forever will be) editing a book for the Dignity Project. These are just a few of the things that have stuck out to me during my time here.
So basically, I was entirely clueless about what spending four months in Uganda was going to look like. When I try to think back to what my imagination had crafted before I came, no part of it is the same. Not one. Single. Part. But I find that the Lord has been so kind in showing me that He has a bigger and better plan than what I could ever create for myself.
The one thing that I found to be true was that I would find healing here. Jesus is so good, y’all. I learned how to rest, listen, and wait in His presence. I learned that pleasing God has very little to do with achievement and everything to do with simply being with Him. I am praying even now that God would help me fight to keep such healthy rhythms in place upon re-entry to the States. I don’t ever want to forget the growth and refinement that has occurred in Uganda.
While I know exactly how my life has been transformed in the past four months, I don’t really know what impact I have made on others since being here. Had I decided not to come, I am confident that the hostel would have become a reality; that students would have continued to meet weekly as they always have, and that the children at Kikongo School would today have shoes, thanks to Jade. However, not coming would have been disobedience, I am sure of it. So, I am trusting in the Lord that I have planted seeds here that will one day blossom into something beautiful. I will abide in the Vine and wait patiently for the fruit.
"So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." --1 Cor. 3:7
*This writing is actually what I presented two weeks ago at the WGM: Uganda Annual General Meeting, but I thought it was fitting for my last day here.