more of the same.
When did I last update? Saturday, I think. Sunday morning I woke up and went to church with the children, Kyran and Roni (my UPA Israeli BFF). For the first time since I’ve been here, I left my hair down and put a bit of makeup on. Part of me loved getting gussied up for something, the other part knew it was completely ridiculous. I love the smell of fresh blush. The church wasn’t nearly as packed, at first, as it was last time. However, by the time we left the barn/shed was bursting at the seams. I wish I could understand Luganda, or they would slow down the message parts of the service so I could understand the thick Ugandan accent when they speak English. Regardless, they started singing…everyone started dancing. It was a dance party if I’ve ever been to one. Ladies swaying, men jumping, everyone throwing their hands in the air. If only people in American praised with such freedom and absence of self-consciousness.
In the evening, Ruth, Auntie and I had a girls’ night out. We went to the Grand Imperial Hotel to watch some dance troupe perform a series of traditional Ugandan dances. It was fascinating. I think they performed four or five different dances. I told Ruth she needs to take every volunteer there. It’s free, all we bought were drinks. And what did I get? Fanta, of course. I am beginning to rank different restaurants based on the chill factor of their Fanta. So far, Grand Imperial Hotel takes the cake. The dancing was phenomenal and the Fanta was deliciously cool, but the best part of the evening…
And as for today, well…let me get to the “little bit of different” part of this entry. Put your reading glasses on. It’s been on my heart for over three years to come to Africa and help. Help who? Help what? Help how? I didn’t know. I knew I wanted to work with children and that’s about the only direction I had. I wanted to help them, I wanted to love them, I wanted to encourage them.
I arrived in Africa and almost immediately felt discouraged. There was not a particular action or event that made me discouraged, but it was only compounded by the death of my grandmother, the overwhelming feeling that there was no way I would be able to decipher one child from the next, the irritation of trying to find where I fit in. I emailed a couple select people what I was declining to post publicly.
I wasn’t feeling how I thought I would have been feeling. I wondered why God brought me all the way here and then allowed me to feel more confused than ever. I don’t know what I expected. I don’t know if I felt God was going to “call” me to be a missionary or what. But I did expect some revelation, some clarity, some greater sense of knowing that this is most certainly was where I was meant to be right now.
I feel none of that. I don’t think I’m being called to be a missionary. Not alone and not now, anyways. I don’t know what I’ll do when December 15 rolls around I step foot on American soil again. And a couple of days ago I got really, really frustrated with Jesus. I thought certain events happened because this experience was going to blow everything in my past out of the water. And I felt the exact same way as I felt in Nashville. Unsure, heartbroken, frustrated, overwhelmed.
Then a two things happened that so lovingly reminded me this is not, and will never be about me. (It gets preachy…) Whatever this experience may be, it’s only because I was trying to listen and obey the desire God put on my heart to serve these children. He never promised that I would feel certain way, only that they would. They would feel loved. Theresa emailed me and said:
You may not think that what you are doing and where you are is making the impact on your life/their lives to the degree that you’ve imagined, but sweet goodness, Colleen, the kisses that you give them every night has changed their hearts and lives. i promise.
you are doing something huge. Don’t you remember one word or one look or one moment of something that someone did (that they probably didn’t even realize) that completely changed your life?! You have been removed from your old life, your old cares, you old problems and you are n a place where it’s you, Jesus and people that you can love without a second thought. I envy the struggle you are going through.
My friend Eric Brown made this post regarding me and this trip. I was/am incredibly humbled. And tonight, instead of observing the time the children spend with God before dinner, I joined them.
When was this trip ever about me? I signed up to help these children. And maybe I’m not feeling the way I anticipated, but I hope every embrace, kiss and “I love you” is leaving a imprint in their brains and hearts. I finally took today by the horns. I got all the worksheets done for the week so I can spend more time with the little ones in the morning. I went to Kampala to go to the supermarket and bought 20 liters of water. I tutored all of the older children. I showered. I prayed and sang with the kids. I…I…I…. They had the day off of school. Peter, Natasha and Allen learned to find the mean of a set of numbers. Bob can do addition problems without any help from me. Bernah escorted me the city and we got ice cream at the super market. The children welcomed me with open arms tonight as we sang and prayed together. Alice was my assistant in tutoring James on his alphabet skills. Each child has their own beautiful facial features and outrageous personality, the fact I thought I would never be able to tell them apart was so ludicrous.
Jesus, thank you for these children who love me despite my selfish expectations. Thank you for these children who let me shower them with kisses. Thank you for these children who are beginning to say “I love you” to me. And Jesus, thank you for your patience with me. Thank you for allowing me to realize that when I feel nothing in me is changing, that You are changing huge things in perfect timing.
I love you and I miss you, but this is where I am for now. And even if I’m unsure of if this is where I’m supposed to be, Jesus brought me here and I’m trusting Him that He wants me here for this season.