It is difficult to believe that exactly eight months ago from yesterday, I was stepping off a plane on American soil home from an adventure that inevitably changed my heart and its desires for the better. Going to Uganda has been a longtime dream and this trip was the fruit of something planted in my heart years ago—a seed that I had long forgotten.
On March 16th, Yvonne and I boarded a plane bound for Entebbe. My friend (and incredible photographer) Mary had been in Uganda for a few short months and the trip’s intentions were to visit her and to spend time with the children at Arise and Shine Uganda, a babies’ home and orphanage. At the time, we were all I’m sure a little frustrated at the timing of Mary being ill with malaria… but looking back, God had his hand on every portion of this trip.
We were there for seven short but very full days. I had just finished the toughest quarter of school and my desires were simply to rest and to spend time with Yvonne and Mary. My friend Julie had just moved to Gulu two months prior and she made an eight-hour trip down to see us too—so much love for you! I met all of Mary's friends who were all so hospitable and kind. Along the way, we had many adventures and conversations that put my soul so much at ease.
I won’t paint an unrealistic picture while I was over there. We weren’t in rough conditions or anything like that. Jinja is very much a tourist town. The greens were lush and the dirt so saturated. Uganda truly is a beautiful place. We spent afternoons at The Keep, a local restaurant with great milkshakes or The Source, a rad café that brought internet to Jinja for the first time. Yvonne and I spent many hours reading, writing or simply reflecting. It didn’t matter what we were doing really— one afternoon we spent at the doctor’s with Mary just laughing about the silliest things. We went on a boat ride in the Nile River, and ventured to Sipi Falls—a three-tier waterfall. Truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.
Visiting the babies’ home made my heart so full. It’s true what they say about the kids jumping on you and wanting only to be held… which was incredible because that is the one thing I am able to do. In situations like this, I can only think of the Kingdom. It does no good to compare the conditions these children are in to the ones we are used to. I think about how much God loves these children, these humans, these lives… they are the kingdom. They embody all of the things our culture craves—authenticity and contentment. I brought my journal along and let the kids draw in some of my pages and I smile every time I open up these pages with these tiny little drawings...
One afternoon, Mary took us to visit the Street Child Project. (DO check out their beautiful website if you have a minute to spare.) Spending time with these young boys who used to live on the streets was the highlight of my trip. I kid you not, they were some of the most well behaved boys I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. We played ‘futball’, Yvonne taught some of them how to play the guitar and in exchange they taught her how to play the drums… We arm-wrestled and they let me win. Time passed all too quickly as the boys passed my camera around and I, sitting in this place so humbled…
I have to go back.