Sunday, June 30

Day 1 Return Ministries: Bracelets and Jerry Cans

The air is hot in Uganda and the dirt is rich.
The food is delicious.
The people are beautiful.
The cities are loud.
Mosquito nets are a must.
The power and internet are sketchy and usually don't work.
The music and the dancing are full of life.
The laughter of the children is contagious and the desire for love and acceptance weighs heavy.
The joy they have in Jesus is captivating. Its something I envied and craved.
Uganda stole our hearts.
Mine and Wynne Elders feet after day 1. 

The first day we were in Uganda will be etched in my mind forever. The way the children ran to us. Grabbing our hands, picking out which one of us they would bond with that day. Babies, Toddlers, Grade-schoolers and teenagers all alike. Their teeth shined bright against their dark coffee colored skin and their eyes lit up full of life. Life that only Jesus can give in conditions such as these. Conditions that  would make most American cringe. But these conditions, to these children, are safe, comfortable and they represent love, Jesus and security. As the squeals rang loud in our ears and as our arms and hands began to go in different directions, I wonder, I wondered if this is what it was like for Jesus when He would sit with the children and tell them about His father. I wondered if they squealed in joy and excitement in his presence. I felt honored to bring Jesus to these children on this day. To sit with them as He would. To intertwine our fingers together. To wrap our arms around each other and just be. To just be there, present in that moment.

As I walked through the entrance of that ministry that day I felt little arms wrap tight around my waist and a head rest sweetly on my chest. I looked down to find the shining face of a girl named Sharon. Sharon was about 12-13 yrs old. Small for her age but smart and funny and she spoke English really well. She spent the whole day wrapped around my waist, clung to my arm or sitting about 3 inches from me. She never left my side. Sharon lived there. She had for a while. She is technically orphaned by has a living aunt. I watched and observed Sharon. I watched her care for babies like she was their mother. When tears would fall she would wipe them away and whisper something in their language so tenderly and calm that the tears would ease and a smile would crack. When food was served or crafts passed out she would give to those around her before taking some for herself. I asked her what kinds of things she likes to do and she told me she loves to sing. She asked if she could sing for me. It would be my pleasure. She sang to Jesus that day, sitting on a rickety bench in the slums of Kampala covered in the red Ugandan dirt. She sang so beautifully. I knew God was looking down on her in that very moment smiling and feeling blessed  that his daughter Sharon desperately loved Him and has found her hope in Him. Sharon blessed me that day more then I could ever bless her.

Our team that day shared the story of David and Goliath. I asked Sharon if she knew that story and she said "Oh yes! It is my favorite story in the Bible. King David was the best earthly King." She said in her beautiful Ugandan accent "Though he sinned and failed, He always repented to the Lord and God always saw him. No matter how bad he messed up. He had a strong heart for God. His legacy is great."

The children also performed for our team. Which honestly is my favorite. I could sit and watch that all day.

The second half of the day a little guy named Timothy, joined sweet Sharon and I. He was quiet and tender. Our team had passed out some string to make friendship bracelets. I think I sat and made 7 bracelets for him and Sharon. I twisted and knotted that string until my fingers were raw and I had blisters. We also bought the kids Sodas. You would have thought it was gold. It was hilarious! The kids shook the bottles and giggled as they fizzed down their throats. It was such a FUN treat for them and for us!

By mid day, I had to take a break from the bracelet making party. My hands hurt and my back ached. Who knew I would spend 4 hours in Kampala Uganda making bracelets with Sharon and Timothy while talking about our savior? I pray those bracelets remind them of Gods infinite love He has for them.
During my little break from the bracelets, I joined a couple of the guys on a water fetch. I really went to just observe how they got their water and where they got it from (and to secretly take a photo). A girl, who was about 14 led the way. We wandered through this 'neighborhood' to a little pipe which drained into a small trash filled creek/trench. We carried the jerry cans. I think we had 5 large cans and 5 smaller cans. Maybe a few more. It took some time to fill those cans with the trickling water. Which I think might have been rain water...I am not really sure. These cans themselves where not much cleaner then the pipe the water was coming from. But this is what they had. This is the best they could do. We crouched down and filled those mold lined cans to the brim and proceeded to carry them back to the ministry grounds. As we began to walk, the girl handed me a large yellow can of water. I looked at her and flashed her a sheepish smile. Inside I was dying. I knew I wouldn't be able to carry that water. I had never carried that much water before. I mean carrying a couple gallons of water from my car to the pantry of my house is heavy enough for me. I grabbed the can and walked. I probably didn't even walk a full quarter of a mile. But it felt like 5 miles. I was sweating, like pouring sweat, I was trembling, and my hands hurt. It was miserable for these puny American hands. I actually fought back tears. Not because it was hard. I mean, it certainly was hard. But I fought back those tears because I thought about all the women and children that have to carry these, usually 2 at a time 2 times a day, for MILES. And I couldn't carry them for 1/8th of a mile without aching in pain. (I am a girl OK...the men didn't have this problem) But it moved me. As the little Ugandan girls behind me giggled while I took "breaks" I prayed and thanked God for my fresh RO water that runs freely in my kitchen sink back at home. Its these small things that we take for granted and don't even realize it. I realized it on a deeper level that day. Standing in the red hot Ugandan dirt with the sun beating down on us. I realized how blessed we are. How incredibly blessed we are. I have had a passion for well drilling for awhile now. (remember my blood:water campaign last year??) I am thankful I got to carry that water and thankful that for a few minutes I got to feel what it is like a a very tiny level what it is like to have to fetch water. My passion for clean water grew that day. It grew deeper and I am praying for ways to be involved in restoring the global water crisis.

After we carried the water it was time to say our goodbyes. This is always the hard part. We held, kissed and hugged our sweet friends goodbye. Many of us, including myself, fighting back tears. The sweet voices of these children begging us to "come back tomorrow" still ring in my ears. The I Love You's and the prayers of blessings are etched in my memory. Timothy cried and begged me to pray for him a sponsor. You can sponsor these children. A sponsorship provides them with food, shelter, clothing and an education. the people who run this ministry (Return Ministries) and sponsorship program live passionately for Jesus.  If you are interested in sponsorship or knowing more about this ministry I want to encourage you to visit my link below. Pray and see how God would want you to bless and love these precious children. They are truly a gift. The light of this world.

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