It’s safe to say you are eager to begin your day when you wake up before your alarm even sounds. My subconscious was even aware that today was the day I would be seeing my sponsor child. With 2 hours to spare before breakfast, I decided it was as good a day as any to explore the hotel grounds. I watched a breathtaking sunrise overlooking beautiful Lake Victoria. As I returned to the hotel for breakfast a hotel employee stopped to chat with me. He shared that he himself used to be a Compassion child and when the time came he aged out. How amazing it was to hear that he still visits the projects to this day. “When the Christmas colors are out,” is how he explained. He returns to preach, mentor and play with the children. This just goes to show one of the many ways Compassion is making an impact in the lives of the people. At breakfast Mark Taylor announced that today was the day most of us would be seeing our sponsor children. “Big deal,” Jenny White scoffed, causing one of the biggest uproars of laughter. It took every ounce of her to keep a straight face, knowing that seeing your sponsor child for the first time after a long absence is the equivalent to being 5 years old on Christmas day and your parents telling you to wait to come downstairs. Outright torture. Considering the whole team was bubbling at breakfast like a squad of preschoolers. It was by far the most lively breakfast I have experienced yet. We know what Kigungu means to us, Kigungu means we get to go home.
Entering the village brought tears, excitement, and if I’m honest, impatience. Upon arriving at the gates of Deliverance Church I think God truly helped us refrain from pushing each other off the bus. We couldn’t spare one more minute for the chance to hug our brothers and sisters from across the sea. As I made my way towards the back of the church, a little one caught my eye. If only I could put into words what it feels like to hug your sponsor child for the first time when you have waited so long to see them. You get a piece of yourself back, you are whole. And yes, for someone who hates to cry… I sobbed. Worship was as powerful as ever. The people of Uganda don’t have flashy lights or expensive sound equipment. They have what God has equipped them with. Their voice, their dance, their passion. It’s intoxicating. Every part of it is a celebration of our all magnificent God. I know we will crave their type of worship when we return to the states, it is something that is hard to forget. I will admit that we dodged the embarrassment of trying to mimic their rhythm and movement on stage this year. We weren’t so lucky the previous year. Our team was invited up on stage to give our introductions. The church was so welcoming and warm, cheering and clapping for us. I know even the newbies felt right at home and this meant Kigungu has done what it always does, gotten them hooked.
Bob Rennier and Alan Dyck gave the sermon today at the service. They shared with us a beautiful sermon about God’s promises. How having the faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Today was a day of blessing because we were able to gather together with our brothers and sisters of Christ. Following the church service the congregation was encouraged to talk to us and get to know us. We met so many wonderful people and it was such an honor that God gave this opportunity to us to greet, hug and love them. Shortly after, it was time for lunch with Pastor Fred and the elders. Adam, my sponsor child, went to town on his food. After enjoying another delicious lunch it was time to gather in fellowship of Hazel Dell and Deliverance Church. Pastor Fred shared the history behind Deliverance, as well as his personal history with the church. Mark and Judy shared their history of discovering the ministry and their partnership with Deliverance. Through these stories we realized that Deliverance Church and Hazel Dell Church weren’t just sister churches, they were twins! Incredible how much they have in common. It was amazing to see how God has revealed his plan for our churches but this story is still being written. We know there is much more to come. We have become such a close knit family that we discussed it no longer feels like a mission trip, it feels like… “a family reunion,” my little brother CJ added. Jackie and Derrick of Compassion helped to explain how important our visits are to the children. When he asks the children if their sponsor has visited them, nearly all of them raise their hand. They think that we are all their sponsors. Some people ask why we don’t just send the money we use for our trips to Uganda. I think Derrick worded it beautifully when he said that a check cannot express the love and compassion that we have for these children. It cannot embrace them or tell them “I love you,” or “You are beautiful.” A check doesn’t build a relationship, fellowship does. This is why we go and this is why we keep coming back. Not without “our sponsors,” we explained to the staff. We are supported by our friends, family, churches, co-workers. It takes a village to get us back to Uganda and we are eternally grateful. Not only do we love our brothers and sisters across the sea, but so does each and every person that supports us from home.
When we returned to our hotel we had our debrief session. It is a discussion our team has about our day. What brought us joy, what breaks our heart. A time to unwind and unload. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of the day. We get to sit and listen to how the Holy Spirit has made His appearance for the day and moved through each of the team members. Jenny White shared how a young Muslim girl she had been praying for over the years has been born again. Praise God!! When she explained how she is a “worrier”, the Holy Spirit made it so that we all heard “warrior”. Jenny White is a warrior. A warrior of prayer, a warrior of the gospel, an active warrior in God’s holy war. I guess you could say we all are.
And it’s always empowering to know,
we are fighting for the winning side.
The Uganda Warriors
The Uganda Addicts