As I reflect on my recent trip to Uganda, I stand in awe of God’s goodness and
faithfulness. Though we were only in Uganda for two weeks, it was eye-opening for me to see what can occur when one surrenders to the Lord and makes themselves available to be used by Him. My prayer every day as I walked around the soccer field next to our compound in Jinja, Uganda was I acknowledged Psalm 118:24 which says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (ESV). By praying that to start my day, I focused my attention on the Lord. Then, I would surrender myself to Him and let Him guide me through the day. These two things were vital for me because, in a distant country and new environment, it would be easy to complain about the mental and physical fatigue. I chose every day to withhold nothing from the Lord, and I believe that is why I got so much out of this trip.
There were four things that I encountered on this trip, which were the Lord, my purpose, my culture, and new relationships. At first, I expected to do sports camps, while interacting with children, and that would be our goal. However, though we did do sports activities, I found myself sharing my testimony, evangelizing, and even got to preach at church in Jinja. I got to witness the power of God, which was evident in services through our song and dance with them, and that was impactful. There were no large screens, no strobe lights, and no smoke machines. It was just a piano, a music track, and open hearts who praised Jesus. Despite the language and cultural barrier, God was glorified.
Next, I encountered my purpose on this trip where I felt the Lord reaffirm it. I have known that it is my purpose, through sports and evangelism, to inspire children and young adults with the Gospel, so the ability to do both simultaneously in a different country has moved me to pursue my goals even more. The chance to play soccer, give fist-bumps or high make beats with our hands, and share devotionals with them are what I will remember. Though the days seemed long, it was their smiles and laughter which motivated me to give it all I had.
Then, there was the aspect of encountering my culture. While growing up African
American, I was taught in school about our history which, is only acknowledged as far back to slavery and the early South as this country formed, and neither was this topic brought in my family. I took this as an opportunity to see what my African roots may be. I am not sure wheremy exact bloodline traces back to in Africa, but to step foot on the continent, understand the people, hear the rhythms, and embrace their culture added extra value to this trip.
Lastly, I will walk away with new friendships made in both the United States and in
Uganda. Whether it is with my MOAM team or with Ugandan teachers and pastors, there were connections made that could be lifelong. I was concerned about staying with the same people for two weeks straight, especially since we had not gotten too much time to know each other, but thank God, we clicked right away when we first met in Minnesota, and things did not change in Uganda. We came as individuals but left as a family. I will not forget the bible studies, bus rides, and evening yoga sessions, which bonded us closer together and sharpened one another. Of course, there were little things like Coach Jo learning today’s colloquialisms like “bet” or “say less.” Then, there was Dan tapping into his hidden talents of relentless dancing. It was an honor to be surrounded by gifted individuals who exercised their gifts and grew in their faith.
This trip is what I believe the kingdom of God represents. It is individuals of different
backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, teaming up to use their gifts to bring joy and love
throughout our communities as we bring glory to God and lead people to Him. Now that this trip has ended and I adjust to my daily routine, I remind myself of the words of Dr. Seuss, “Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.” I thank God and MOAM for the opportunity to take part in this life-changing experience.