Uganda October 2019 Day 5
Our team is continually in awe of the beautiful life and bright spirits here in Uganda. We arrive to CURE hospital and greet our now family and friends. It's only been just three days with patients, their families, staff and our team, but it's as if we had known each other for forever. Patients recognize our team members and the bonds are already so tight.
The itinerary for the day included an outreach in a village. As we headed out, west of Mbale out in a beautiful area called Kakangwa, we were braced that it was going to be a Muslim dominant community. The Muslim here propagate their religion by providing money with business jobs, free education for their children, etc., and the thought is scary. The enemy is on his toes and busy as he works diligently to keep the word of God quiet, but our God is greater and He is near.
When approaching people in villages, the men will approach evangelists angrily that there are no preachings allowed...and sometimes there are beatings. On the bright side, when villagers are converted to Christians, they are passionate and on fire for God. The goal of this outreach that happens weekly to monthly based on the village is to strengthen and encourage the church to go out and preach the gospel. It's truly a scary world here.
The drive included bumpy dirt roads with various types of brick or mud homes, children playing with trash or working the fields, cows and goats grazing, all with beautiful scenery of the green country and bright blue skies. And at every 1km, there was a mosque and we have finally entered the outreach staff's world. The team does not know what to expect and with some anxiety, we anticipate meeting the children and continue our ministry of encouragement and love.
The church plant in this small village began four months ago with the church building structure mostly complete of wood, mud, metal sheets and construction tarp. Though it's such a simple church, it is a huge accomplishment for the ministry here. The building filled with excited Christians eager to meet fellow brothers and sisters from a distance they cannot fathom. Children fascinated by new light-colored faces and their smiles can truly light up space.
Soon after, songs of praise, joyful ulelating, and enthusiastic dances and claps, filled the room loud enough causing extra passerbys to gawk at us foreigners as we attempted to twist and move our hips like the villagers. And at one point, we all joined in shouting as loud as we can so "other villages can hear." And let me tell you, shouts of celebratory joy shook the dirt ground, cries of Christ's love rushed out of the mud walls, and unified gratitude from God's children echoed passed the metal sheets.
During this dance party for Jesus, we all quieted down to witness a man in tattered clothes approach the front to give his life to Christ. As Robert confessed his sins and professed Christ's name, he also shared that he's an alcoholic and the demons of this addiction caused his wife and six children to leave him. The church lifted him up in prayers and fellow villagers approached him welcoming him to the family of God as we proceeded to dance and praise with joy. Praise be to God! Truly an emotional and joyous thing to witness! I can attest that all the team members have never felt so refreshed, encouraged, emotional, and also sweaty.
Before leaving, our team was crowded by so many children as they surrounded us for their share of blown up balloons. Their fascination and intense desire for a balloon was truly heartbreaking as they surrounded us in desperation for one. And shortly after, it was time to leave. Children approached the bus for one last ounce of love and joy that they don't receive from their own. As our hearts wanted to give so much more, but simple phrases like "You are beautiful," "We are praying for you," and "God loves you" were more meaningful to them as they showed their appreciation with a prayerful song to each one of us.
God is truly present here and the gospel is a beacon of hope to the Christians in these remote villages. The CURE staff members have a heart for the people of Uganda and have unrelenting fire that burns within themselves. They rely wholeheartedly on the Sovereignty of God as they visit villages they are not welcomed at and at times their safety jeopardized. Our ride back to our compound was bittersweet as we were distracted by the beauty of deciduous landscape as we began to talk about our time here. Our debrief included so much information and emotions that required continuous processing. We are truly not ready to say "goodbye" to the patients we've formed relationships with and the staff who've become family to us.
How will people reciprocate to stories of babies being drowned for their deformity or a treatable disease? Or children locked away so people will not see this spirit possession? Will the value of women and children here encourage our friends and families back home for deeper compassion? Who will respond to God's commandment to love well or better? Will our experiences light a dim fire in the hearts of our community or be a beacon of hope and joy? With a few days left, so many questions fill our hearts even though our team anticipates the comforts of our home, overwhelming sadness approaches the horizon. But, God is good and we are still full of joy and laughter as our friends here rejuvenate and energize us to press on.
- Jackie Ross