Our first full day in Uganda doing house visits to homes that have dirt floors. To homes that have nothing more than a simple wooden table residing inside.
No couches, tv’s, or love seats.
No running water.
No refrigerator, no bedroom.
Just a mud brick structure of a home for shelter.
One of the first few homes we visited was the home of these three children that are pictured above.
I don’t know their names and I don’t know if I ever will.
They were all too young to really communicate with us, as well as not being able to speak English. But I think they knew that we were there to bring comfort and love to them because they accepted us so openly. They let us hug on them and place little shoes on their worn young feet as they stared down at their mom on the floor. Their little and young minds not fully grasping the magnitude of the situation at hand.
Pastor Moses encouraged us to go into this home as warriors. To be strong and confident in our words and actions as we were going to pray for these kids’ mom who has AIDS.
This was the reason for our visit.
Because right inside that very simple and precious home– was their mommy lying on a very thin straw mat on the red dirt of Africa. And she was in pain.The air was hot and sticky and I immediately felt beads of sweat trickle down the back of my shirt. There was no breeze or air that flooded the home. We were only greeted with the heat that had suffocated all living areas. My eyes were temporarily blinded from the African sun and I had to adjust to the darkness of the home as we quickly weaved from the back to the front room where their mother laid on the floor. She communicated with Pastor Moses only a fraction of the time due to the lack of strength and her discomfort. But my heart softened for these kids and this mom who wanted to be healthy and strong for her children– but physically could not. Pastor Moses asked us to pray for the mother for healing in her body and for her family.
Even as I write this, the words feel a bit muddled. Like I don’t know how to fully and accurately describe the vast ray of feelings and emotions of that one visit and that one moment. I had never been around someone with AIDS or laid my hand on their skin to pray, it all felt surreal. But so satisfyingly good because God was right there with us in that little room. (Ps. 14:5)
We gave the kids new shoes to cover and protect their little feet. I struggled putting them on one of the little girls at first. My struggle was partly from the sticky sweat and dirt that made it a challenge– but one I wasn’t going to give up on. As gently as I could I got her new shoes on her feet and without a word of protest or emotion the little girl in the blue dress let me hug her and put her down so she could walk around in her new shoes. One of the girls on our team gave that little girl a baby doll. Her and her family had donated it to give to a child on this trip to Uganda. But it’s what that little girl did with the baby doll that melted my heart like a popsicle in an oven. It was the sweetest act and display of love from a child I have ever seen. The little girl and her sister and brother looked at the pretty doll and played with it for only a few moments until she took it in the house and laid it down beside her mommy.
I watched as we began to leave the home and venture out into the heat and the children followed us out the front door of their home. I watched as Pastor Moses tenderly touched the little girl with the pigtails and the little blue dress’ head and quietly pray over her. Her pigtails hid a large mass on her head that was more than likely a tumor that had been growing for quite a while, and something I hadn’t noticed earlier.
Later on though I thought about how that little girl looked up at Pastor Moses with complete trust and how she just allowed him to pray over her. I saw the compassion in his eyes as he himself has little girls ranging in their ages. It was a clear picture to me of how much God loves us. How He looks at us and how He cares about our every need…even in the smallest areas of Uganda. (Ps. 34:15)
As our team wrapped up playing and speaking with the local neighbors and kids of the area Gary and I got to speak with one of our security guys, Andrew, about how blessed we are in America. How seeing things like this hits you in such a way that you can’t not do something, because ultimately it’s hard to ignore a need that’s right in front of you. He told us about statistics for the kids in that area and their life expectancy and if you have $1,000 to your name, a home, and a job you are considered very wealthy in Uganda. Simple things that are more readily available in the States that we can so easily take advantage of because we don’t deal with the hardships or unstable governments of third world countries. Andrew noticed the little boy (pictured above) and how distended his stomach was. He called for the other guys on the security team to get a small pill to give to the boy. We found out the boy’s stomach was infested with a parasite(s) and this medicine would allow him to pass the vile things– so that he could get nutrients from food he eats.
All of this…
Every part of it is Africa. The people, the hospitality, the livelihood, the suffering and struggle. A big and beautiful land needing healing and hope.
You can’t help but feel drawn to go back. And Lord willing that is where I will go. I will go back.