One of my highlights from our month of traveling was Uganda. That was the next stop on the list. I was a bit scared and nervous for our time there- I only knew a handful of the people on our team; so as excited as I was to get to know new people, I was a bit insecure and unsure. Would they like me? Would are team connect? Plus, I really didn’t know much of what living there would be like- would we stay in huts? Would I need to squat every time I peed? Would the food be doable? Just things a girl thinks about before she travels across the world!
My prayer for our time there was that the Lord would open wide my heart to our team and the people we were going to serve and get to know in Uganda. And how He answered so sweetly.
We flew into Entebbe and drove 6 hours north to Karuma, where we would be staying at an orphanage called Restoration Gateway. We spent 9 days there, teaching in the schools, helping in the local hospital, playing with the kids, digging out roots for the roads, meeting families from the village, and teaching bible lessons. We went on a true African safari that went down the Nile River- I know, awesome! Elephants, rhinos, hippos, and crocodiles, that we were an arms length away from. (I kept thinking- 1. I feel like I’m in Peter Pan!- Ahem, I often compare my life to a Disney movie…don’t judge. And 2. This would not be okay in America!) We listened to missionaries share their experiences and what God was doing in their lives, as well as how the LRA affected the mamas and workers and how the Lord brought them to Restoration Gateway.
The thing that amazed me was that although we were there to help them, really, I think they helped us. Their welcoming hearts were overwhelming, and their joy and thankfulness, despite their painful pasts, was so beautiful I think I cried daily. Here were these kids, workers and mamas who had been orphaned, widowed, left jobless and alone- brought to a place where they were given food, shelter, work and family. They came to a place where they heard about Jesus, and now many of them love and follow Him. The kids walk to their homes, to school-they play and cook and craft as they sing worship songs to Jesus.
It was beautiful being apart of a place that is all about restoration- and restoring the whole. They bring in orphans, and place them in homes with 7 other children and one mama. The mamas are widows, or have lost their own children. They have a school that is legit- with teachers who needed housing or income to provide for their own families. They have a medical facility and a dentist office. They grow all their own crops & have filtered water from the Nile. As you walk around RG, you see the workers laughing and smiling as they carry heavy rocks to and fro as they build new buildings. Men are making their own bricks, women are hanging up their laundry on the clotheslines, the mamas are on their porches preparing food, and the kids are singing and dancing as they play in the field and hang from mango trees.
I know there is still heartache there, and nothing is perfect, but what the Lord has done in that town, in those children’s lives; how He has provided and saved- is beautiful.
I am so thankful we had the opportunity to see what He is doing at Restoration Gateway. It causes me to give thanks to our Father, who has saved me, and rescued me. I’m no different than anyone there. I’m just as in need of a Savior, just as in need of love and food and shelter. And how faithful He is to provide, to draw us near, and to bless us with family- even 8,000 miles away.
Oh to answer the questions above- the team was awesome. It was mostly made up of girls, who made their way right into my heart and who I miss dearly as I write this. Also, we didn’t stay in a hut, but a “pod” aka cabin with bunk beds and colorful mosquito nets. We had a normal toilet (Praise Jesus!), and I personally loved the food- rice, beans, avocados, mangos and a thing like naan bread. Delicious!
Here are some photos of the kids at Restoration Gateway. Prepare yourself- they’re way too cute.