It’s been 4 years since Canyon Springs Church has sent a team to Uganda. It is an expensive trip and the travel is lengthy. I told myself before leaving, “Embrace this trip, it is a privilege to be able to leave my country and travel half-way across the world, chances are you won’t be back this way again.” Although at the time I was giving myself a “pep” talk in dread of the 48+ hours of travel and uncertain accommodations along the way, embracing this trip turned out to be one of the easiest things I have ever done.
I was a part of a 10 member team made up of teen-agers through middle-agers. There were people who had been to Uganda before and others who were on their very first mission trip. There were bankers, students, computer geniuses and pastors. There were moms and dads, sisters and brothers. Although life back home looked different for each one of us, for 10 days we were unified and committed to seeing what God was doing in Guru Guru, Uganda.
Together we saw a place that was once ravaged by war, that had torn apart families and victimized children. We saw a place that God was in the process of redeeming. Where once there was bloodshed there was now school buildings. Where there was once devastation and despair there is now a church giving hope and purpose through Jesus Christ. A place where once children were in danger and now a place where children are laughing, learning and dreaming.
We were able to spend time with the children, teaching truth from God’s Word, creating colorful handprint banners for their classrooms and enjoying their beautiful voices singing the praises of Jesus. Sure, 500+ students means that those teaching times and crafting times can be a little chaotic but to see the wide-eyes and laughter when one of your team members comes out in a blow-up hippo costume is worth every crazy moment.
Our time with the little ones was sweet, but there is no doubt in my mind that God orchestrated our time with the teen girls who are living in a dorm on the school campus. These girls were so excited and grateful to receive mattresses for their metal beds (most had been sleeping on the metal bars covered with a blanket or two) and pillows to lay their heads on (a true luxury for most of them). Our own teen girls had shopped ahead of time and brought down special items to put in each of the dorm rooms—shelves, hanging lanterns, chalkboards, bulletin boards, lights etc. Through these simple touches they communicated to them that they loved them, understood them and wanted them to enjoy the beauty that we so often take for granted in our own homes.
Each day different voices from our own team communicated God’s love to these girls. Our moms spoke to the girls about their identity and value in the eyes of God. Our dads spoke about their inherent beauty and worth to be found through Jesus and not through man (or boys). Our Ugandan team member Becky, spoke to them as an “auntie” who understood their struggles and challenged them to press on and not give up. Our teens shared their own commitment to Jesus Christ. In response, the Ugandan teens shared with us their struggles and pressures. What a privilege that they were willing to open up with us so that we might help carry the burden to the Lord!
Although, I went on this trip believing it would be my last to Uganda. I left Uganda wondering if the Lord might not be done with me in this place. I know that He will continue to be at work in that country and in those hearts, I think I might like to see what He is accomplishing…