I have been home from my last trip to Uganda and attempting to get back to life as it once was for almost a year now. I continue to find myself staring off into space, traveling back in my mind to a place where I have never felt the presence of God more clearly. Even in the midst of holding children that were orphans, little ones whose eyes have seen things and ears that have heard things reserved only for our darkest fears. I watched them smile and laugh while in the depths of what most would consider a hopeless situation.
A moment that I will forever be in my heart occurred the first day we arrived at Beyond Uganda’s Children’s Home in Bugiri. We stepped off the bus to be flooded with smiling faces, singing and dancing; being welcomed with open arms and hearts. There were a number of children of all ages, some very outgoing and others that were shy and
reserved. All of them, at one time or another, needing and longing for love. Amidst all of the excitement, I look over and notice one of the younger children had been knocked down accidentally. I ran over to her and picked her up, straightened her dust covered dress and held her. Swaying back and forth with her head on my shoulder I softly
sang, “Jesus loves me this I know…”. With every breath, she hummed quietly but never spoke a word. Tears streamed down my face as my heart melted for this child whose name I didn’t even know. I developed a sincere kind of love for her that can only be described as God-given.
I later found out that her name is Mary, but they call her “Baby-Mary”. At that time, she was three years old. She is from a tribe called the Karimojong. Unfortunately, members of this tribe regularly encounter prejudice, discrimination and a wide variety of abuse from neighboring tribes. Words could not be found to describe what the missionaries working with Beyond Uganda felt when they encountered Mary and her family for the first time. Mary was nine months old, laying on the dirt floor of a hut, so underdeveloped, with a swollen stomach from malnutrition and barely enough energy to even cry. She weighed less than ten pounds. Her head and face looked as though she was injured, and they learned that the mother had been intoxicated and somehow poured boiling water on her.
The missionaries with Beyond Uganda had experienced the same God-given love for her that I did. They took immediate action and went to extreme measures to help Baby-Mary. There was still little hope that she would make it due to her condition. But our God is a mighty God. Thanks to Him and Beyond Uganda, Mary is now thriving at the Children’s Home in Bugiri; growing stronger every day and being given real hope for her future.
As the news headlines and social media inundate us daily with all the ways our world is suffering and falling apart, it is so easy to become overwhelmed and think there is no way anyone or anything can change it. We see organization after organization come and go with little to no evidence of success. So we begin to ignore it, put our head in the
sand and hope someone else will take care of it. Unless we choose not to! It takes all of us to become the change we long to see in this world. To take a stand and be obedient to God and change the world. Even if we have to do it one little girl at a time.
Baby-Mary’s story of hope is only one of SO many that I have experienced on mission trips to Uganda. I witnessed and was blessed to experience miracles firsthand that genuinely change lives and people’s stories forever. It all begins in one place though…the only place it can. With love.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave
everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
You see, sincere, selfless love changes lives and can truly make a difference. This is the inexplicable love that Jesus Christ demonstrated to us.
I have left pieces of my heart in Uganda. With Mary, with my sponsor child Winnie, and with all of the friends I have come to love.