As many of you know, I just returned from 10 days in Kampala, Uganda. I traveled with Elodie, two members of the other Kentucky family planning to join the mission and three others from Followers of the Way Boston. The purpose of the trip was fourfold-to encourage the young Kampala church, to strengthen the bonds or brotherhood between the Boston and Kampala fellowships, to serve the community in ways that required more “man power,” and, for a few of us, to “check out” our new home. This last was my main purpose in going. I was daunted by the prospect of leaving Greg and our three older children for nearly 2 weeks, but we felt that the benefits of getting a “real feel” of the land that will soon be our home outweighed the challenges.
As I said, this was my main purpose, but God has many purposes. One of these began to unfold in my heart during our first full day in Uganda. Our hosts (and dear friends) had planned for us all to have a day of rest and adjustment upon arrival, but since we Kentucky travelers missed our first flight, thereby incurring a 14 hour layover in Dubai, we jumped right into activity. The day’s plan was to travel to the nearby city of Jinja, take a boat ride around Lake Victoria and then spend the remainder of the day serving at a home for disabled adults. At this home (which is really more of a community, where adults with serious physical challenges and their families live and work together) we had two projects planned. First, since one member of the team is an occupational therapist, we would spend the afternoon assessing some of the daily challenges of the residents in order to explore possible ways to help. Since I have no medical background, my role was to follow the assessment team and pray with each individual-a cherished privilege. Upon completion of the evaluations, we would serve a dinner (which had already been prepared by a couple of sisters from the church and a group of local widows).
The plan was simple and was well carried out, but the workings of the human heart are complex. I believe that we all struggled in different ways with the magnitude of the needs before us, and the inadequacy of our own ability to meet them. As I moved around the circle taking one hand after another, listening to their stories, watching their labored movements (most of the adults had been crippled by polio as children), looking into their eyes and praying for their bodies and spirits, my heart cried out, “Oh Lord, this is not enough!”. After praying I massaged the shoulders of several of the women whose lower body disconfigurations put great strain on their arms, shoulders and necks. One dear woman’s muscles were so tense at first that a light touch caused her pain. I longed to be able to straighten their legs–to ease their daily struggle, and grieved that I could not, but the Lord spoke gently to my spirit. The solving of all these problems is not in my hands. It is enough, in this moment, to pour myself out in love.
Later in our stay we were privileged to meet a young couple named Ivan and Melissa. They (along with others in Ivan’s family) have spent their first five years of marriage establishing the Sonrise Children’s Home, Baby Home and Mirembe Cottage of Street Girls (http://www.sonriseministriesinc.org/). We were able to spend our last full day in Uganda visiting these homes. Our hearts thrilled to find three large household full of children who were obviously loved and well cared for. Children who would otherwise be on the street struggling for basic survival. I loved the T-shirt that Ivan was wearing that day. It said, “153 million orphans minus 1.” Those words offered me a choice. I can be crushed by that first number. I can be paralyzed by the impossibility of it. I can distract myself or harden my heart in despair. (I believe I have done each of these things at one time or another.) Or, I can surrender the impossible into God’s hands and trust that by his grace it is enough to love one child at a time.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10