Last year I started trying to come up with a word or phrase that encapsulated our day or a lesson I learned on each day in Uganda. Today, for the first time, God gave me the phrase before the day happened! As I was brushing my teeth this morning, (with bottled water!), God whispered to me the word "alongside."Then, incredibly, He made that the theme of the day!!! I love this, and am praying He'll keep giving me clues to His plans! ;-)
Today God have us many opportunities to work and play and just be alongside our Ugandan friends. He showed me that sometimes, like with an oxen's yoke, the burden is lighter when someone else comes alongside you. It is, in fact, the way He chose to show His love to us. He came to us to walk among us and be with us in the form of His Son.
There is not much that we've done here physically that Agnes and the children could not have either done themselves or paid someone to do. The money we've spent on nets and blankets and shoes could have been wired internationally. But... Nothing communicates love more than being there.
Today we worked with some Ugandan men to sow the seeds in the garden at the orphanage. Many people gathered around Agnes' fence to see the Mzungus working. They were amazed that we would do any actual work. The people here are very used to Americans coming by, getting a warm fuzzy and a photo op, then leaving. To see us joining them in their work spoke volumes. Our prayer over the garden was a wonderful witness to all the people who were asking Agnes why we were here!
I helped Agnes' helper (whose name is also Jen!) serve snack today at the school, and this afternoon we went to the 4-7 grade school and walked the children home. We carried their notebooks for them and just walked with them. They were the only children who had someone to pick them up at school (it's not at all like carline! ;-)), and seemed amazed that we would choose to walk with them when we had a van.
All of the children got new clothes today, and they were so excited! Many changed right back into their play clothes, though, to play lacrosse and soccer with Robert, Alexis, and Sierra.
There is a massage therapist at the hotel, and she does hour massages for $10. Today, we brought Agnes back to the hotel in the middle of the day and got her a massage! She was so happy, and said, "I never wanted to get off that table!". A wonderful way to ease the burden of a woman who cares for forty children with no break. As women, we knew what she needed!
We were also able to spend time just visiting with Ms Agnes. She enjoys this a lot, and I know that she is grateful to have someone to talk to. Being a single mom of 40 children must get lonely sometimes.
Ron and Seth left our team today to travel home. Please pray for safe travel for them. They were a great help to our team, and really enjoyed the children.
Alongside. The perfect word for what God had in store for us today. It wasn't planned by us at all, but He certainly taught us something about real love and real ministry.