Friday, December 4, 2009

looking back...

I've been thinking I needed to do some sort of wrap-up blog about Uganda (...and have been getting the hint from a few of you...). But I'll be honest, I've kinda been delaying because, well, I don't really know what to say.

It has proven to be harder than I expected to be back. It was weird...I went through this interesting progression: my first night back was just full of excitement for seeing people that I'd missed a lot and at the same time, I almost felt like the whole trip had just been a dream, like I'd never really left. Then Day 2 back in the states was just spent "enjoying" the modern comforts of home - like a hot shower and washing machine. But then by Day 3, that stuff had kinda worn off and it was back to life, back to reality. And to be honest, I just wanted to be back in that little village in the bush of western Uganda.

I would be sitting at my desk at the office and I would just have this endless stream of pictures running through my head of different places and people that I'd fallen in love with on the other side of the world, the people who had stolen my heart. And it was both sad because I miss them terribly and also kinda lonely, ya know? Like no one else could really go there in their head with me. Of course it's no fault of anyone else...it's just how it is. God had to remind me, though, that I was most definitely not alone. His heart beats harder for those people than mine ever will.

I cannot get them out of my mind. And I pray that I never will. They have changed my life. I don't know exactly what to do with that right now. There was this part of me that really wanted to be able to go on this trip and come back with a clear sense of direction - either "Africa is definitely where I'm called to be" or "My place is in the states". But as we know, God doesn't always work that way. And I didn't really come back with a strong sense of one or the other. So I'm going to keep seeking...and keep praying.

I do know this. I am more aware than ever of the desperate need of the people of Uganda. People are often commenting on how" Uganda gets all the hype", "that's where everyone goes", "it's a Christian country so there's not much need there", "we need them more than they need us", etc. But that simply isn't true. The people of Uganda are in desperate need. Yes, they need physical provision, but they are in desperate need of Jesus. There is a lot of darkness and a lot of spiritual warfare in that country. A lot of people who subscribe to Christianity, but know very little about God and have never opened a Bible.

I have also learned that moving to Africa is by no means a cop-out. That may sound crazy to you, but there are some who think that people go to Africa when they can't handle America any more. They think Africa is the "easy way out", as if it's easier to minister and to be close to God there. Again, this simply isn't true. It's just as easy, if not easier, to be distracted from God there. And by no means is it easier to minister there than in the states. There is a whole new set of distractions and struggles that you take on when you move to do ministry in Africa.

I learned an overwhelming amount during my time in Uganda. I still have much to process, much to pray about. Thank you so much to those of you who faithfully prayed and supported and encouraged me while I was there. Please continue to pray for my brother and sister - Matt and Amy - who will continue on in Uganda for the next two months. My heart is still with them there.

And when you get the chance, go to Uganda. You will be changed. :)

Since I had a really hard time uploading pictures to Blogger while I was there, I will leave you with a few of my faves from the trip.
This one's courtesy of Matt Walter...so glad he was there to take pics too!
These girls will always hold a special place in my heart, because they were the first children I really interacted with. They are the girls from the Remember Me orphanage in Mityana. My story from that day is here.
These were three of the first little girls we met in Nyamarwa.
Our first day with the Nyamarwa village children...a day I will definitely never forget.
a few of my favorites...(not that I have favorites...uhhh)

This is Mary. She is the daughter of one of the teachers at Kibbuse, Madam Olivia. Without a doubt one of the most precious little girls I have ever met.

These are the students at one of the primary schools in the Nyamarwa village. 75% of the population in Uganda is under 21...yep.

So we're on the bus on our way from Kampala to Mbale and I look in between the seats in front of us and see this. good grief.
This was one of the most complacent, well-behaved babies I've ever seen. Fell in love with her in a heartbeat.
"Chief" (operations manager at Kibbuse School) and his grandmother. This one is also coming courtesy of Matt Walter...and just might have my vote as the best one of the trip.

I will never forget the sight of their smiles or the sound of their laughs. I don't think there's anything like the children of Africa. They have my heart.

3 comments:

Matt said...

I couldnt help but read this post and think "I want to go there"! Sometimes when you sit in the stark walls of this compound you forget the magic and blessings that are happening just a few feet away. I pray that you as well as Amy and I never forget the experieces we had (and will have) here. I pray that you have inspired people to get involved in the work God is doing in Uganda. We miss having you around and look forward to seeing you soon. God Bless.

Matt and Amy

ninaruth said...

Hi Melanie! Looks like you had an amazing experience last year & the photos speak volumes!

I'm with Called to Youth Ministries, a resource for youth workers and we've been working to build a resource library for youth pastors... Would you mind adding a link to your site to help get the word out? Links are a huge help!

You could just add the site to your blogroll: http://www.calledtoyouthministry.com/. Or you can use this code:
Called to Youth Ministry

Let me know, thanks!!

Nina Ruth :-)
nina@calledtoyouthministries.com

ninaruth said...

Hi Melanie! hope all is well with you after such an amazing experience! How are you?

Nina Ruth Bruno
nina@calledtoyouthministry.com
www.calledtoyouthministry.com