Take My Hand Uganda
Opening our hands and hearts to vulnerable families in Uganda. Isaiah 58:10
Bucket List
by Julie Hawbaker on June 2nd, 2015

I arrived home from Uganda on May 26 after ten days that were non-stop in every possible way. I will confess that this was THE most exhausting and relentless mission effort in Africa that I have experienced in all six trips that I've been on.
The best news is that it was also FULL of solid accomplishments, surprising  steps forward and a bounty of opportunities to listen and learn. 

One word........VALUABLE.

And God?
He showed up.
Left me standing with my jaw dragging in the dirt on multiple occasions. I will forever be dumbfounded when He chooses to show Himself mighty and intimately engaged in the smallest details of my life. In the lives of these children. And in your life.

This was a solo trip, in that I traveled alone to Uganda without a team and without anyone to lean on and and ask to share the heavy load of mental, emotional and physical struggles that I kept running into.  
I wasn't prepared to find myself needing someone to lean on.
Honestly, I was ready to come home by day two. 
From the moment I landed on African soil, every step was like walking through a soggy bog.
In the dark.
Alone.
With no flashlight and no one's hand to grasp. 

What I DID have were three strong, capable, hard-working Ugandan men whose heart is just like mine.
Or maybe my heart is just like theirs.
Fred, Douglas and Ivan, who have all become enduring characters in this story in their own unique way, carry a passion for the vulnerable children of their country that brings out the best in them. Watching them sweat and serve and strive for the sole purpose of blessing the children took my breath away. There was no ulterior motive. Most of what they did was done before I could even ask it of them. They were almost always smiling. Even beaming! And all I could see was Jesus' heart beating fast and strong inside those three young men. It was beautiful. 

My two flights to Uganda, with a short layover in London, were gloriously uneventful. I did have to sprint through the airport for my connecting flight in London and I would hate to watch a replay of that run on their security cameras, but considering my travel time of 25+ hours from start to finish, I'd say the journey displayed the great calm before the storm.
Once I arrived at the Entebbe airport I discovered that one of my three, fifty pound bags was no where to be found. I was nearly the last person to leave the airport with the promise that my "missing parcel" would come in on the next flight in TWO days and be delivered to my doorstep in Kampala. My carefully laid plans and schedule for the week ahead had to be rearranged because everything in that bag had a specific purpose and a place to be! For someone like me who depends on organization and careful planning, the loss of this bag was filed in the "crisis department" of my brain. And there was no way for me to fix it. I had to begin (on a small scale) to engage the most underdeveloped dimmension of my relationship with my Father; Trust.
After logging about five hours of sleep that first night at the home of my hosts, who I'll introduce to you later, I set out in the morning with Fred and Douglas, armed with a little, black notebook full of scribbled  lists and estimated costs, to conquer the task of shopping for twety-nine children for their enrollment into boarding school.

Unfortunately we weren't headed for Target or the Prime Outlets where we could have found a parking spot in less than two minutes, browsed the organized shelves and displays with confidence, calm and ease, used an actual above-ground toilet when the need arose ( or even a quick visit just to freshen up....you know... pull a brush through my locks, dab on some lip gloss and a sweep of blush on the cheeks, check for salad between my teeth....)
No.
Shopping in the city of Kampala should be handled by marines.
Not even kidding. 
It's the stifling heat, pressing, sweaty crowds, layers upon layers of dust and grime from the street, boda-bodas ( motorcycle taxis) tearing through the scene within inches of your back pocket, taped-shut-boxes of the items on your list you need the most stacked to the ceiling and people shouting and negotiating prices at a deafening level.

I was no help in this shopping expedition. Except to sit on an over-turned bucket in the middle of it all and clutch the money bag close to my body. I suppose that's an important job. But Fred and Douglas did the WORK. 
It took literal hours to find, count, price, negotiate, carry and stack the items on our list; 
Sheets, washing soap, towels, shoe polish, shoe brushes, scratchers, vaseline, sponges, geometry sets, toilet paper, box files, spring files, basins, jerri cans, plates, cups, spoons, forks, pens and blankets.
Multiplied by 29, of course.

I sat on my bucket and doled out money while the purchases piled up around me. 
I was slowly disappearing from sight.

There were a lot of moments and hours and days on this trip where I found myself physically weak and frustratingly exhausted.
I'm usually pretty tough. 
I don't get rattled or dehydrated and especially not homesick. 
I'm capable and can carry my own weight and not depend on anyone to take up my slack. It was my sixth trip, for goodness sake. I expected to be able to breeze in and out without much more than a sunburn and a handful of mosquito bites.

But you will see, as this story unfolds, that I found myself sitting on that proverbial bucket more times than not. 

God has little interest in what we can do on our own. He's not impressed by how strong and capable  we are. And He doesn't keep track of how much experience we have logged from year to year.
His eyes are fixed on that beating heart of yours.
He knows that to walk you from the shore of your climate-controlled relationship with Him into the deep, deep waters of His extravagent love, you will have to come to the end of yourself and your stash of hoarded resources.
He knows it's going to cost you.
And He will walk beside you, waiting to see if you'll decide He's worth it.

To be continued....

 


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