January 23, 2019
Uganda September 2018 Update 7
September 10, 2018 | Kathy Smarrella
Greetings from Arua, Uganda, on our last night here. Our team of 10 has spent the day at the Dreamland Children’s Home this morning and afternoon, playing games, distributing some new clothes, going to the playground, having conversations, practicing our taekwondo, and finally, saying goodbye to the children we have come to love. It’s been a good last day.
Tomorrow we head to Entebbe, where we will, Lord willing, have a chance to see the town a bit, buy some souvenirs, and prepare ourselves for our long trip home. We are ready.
This team has been a unique one for me. Eight out of our ten team members have never been to Dreamland before, or even to Africa. They have fresh eyes, lots of questions, and seeing everything through them has been both entertaining and encouraging. They have worked hard, played hard, sweated a lot, cried a bit, laughed a ton, and I have loved serving alongside them.
I read this earlier this week: “To live a life of faith, I must no longer trust solely in my own strength; I must let go of safety and learn to trust the strength of the people God surrounds me with” (from a book called I’ll Push You). This has been so good for me to live out this week. I am the one with the most experience in this place—this is my 8th trip to Africa with The Vineyard Church. And yet, I needed the strength of my team this week—they made me think hard, laugh loud, shed a couple tears, and most of all, they refreshed my heart to continue this work. I am grateful for their strength.
I love this quote also because God has surrounded me this week with strong Africans—Pastor Stanley, Tom, Bidali Jeffers, Osman, and many, many of the Dreamland children—and their strength inspires me. They rely on God to be their strength, to be their provider—and God does it! They have pressed through their stories (some of which are so very painful) in such a beautiful way. I do not know that I could have done what they have done or lived through what they have lived through. And even still, they all have dreams—from Pastor Stanley to 7-year old Margaret who wants to be a pastor when she grows up.
In their relationship with all of us, they have moved, I think, from having expectations, to being simply grateful for our help and partnership. They see our help as God’s provision for them. We are how God has supplied some of their needs (as He promises to do in Philippians 4:19). We get to be a part of God’s answer to their prayers, and it is amazing and incredibly humbling. I am grateful for their strength and for their faith.
Pray for our team as we head back to our “regular” lives. As I look back on my first trips to Africa, I remember coming back with questions like, “Why God?” Or “What do I do with all of this?” or “What’s my next step?” And I know this team of “newbies” is asking some of the same questions as they get ready to return. Your prayers will help as they process what God has done in and through them this week.
As always, we are grateful for each of you who care and who pray for us. We will see you soon!