In Uganda, the school year year goes along with the calendar year, unlike in the USA.
Schools have three terms, with “holidays” between them.
Next Monday most schools will begin their second term, after being off for a few weeks.
During the holiday, fewer students are staying at Juna Amagara’s children’s home than when school is in session…because they don’t have anywhere to go.
Before the dormitories fill up, I decided to do something a little special for those 21 kids remaining.
It’s Friday night.
A couple of my ABIDE girls helped me make some chocolate chip cookies this afternoon. (I didn’t pack those chocolate chips for nothing!)
I picked up a crate of two dozen glass soda bottles from town.
I cleaned my house a little bit.
Then those crazy kids made their way to my house.
Earlier in the day, I made a rule that I would only allow clean children to come to my house today…I mean, you’ve gotta motivate young boys to bathe somehow! Hahaha! They all came looking so smart! (That’s Ugandan lingo for looking good.)
We played with a couple small balls, a regularly deflating beach ball (that eventually earned a big hole), and bubbles.
We took some photos…group shots are always a little tricky…especially with children…even more so with Ugandan children who aren’t used to having a someone with a camera in their face all the time. Even an attempt at a crazy picture is an amusing struggle!
I asked them what they know about me, and they shared several things.
I’m a Mzungu. I am from America. I love God. I love children. I like sharing.
It was a nice list.
Then I told them my testimony. I know they’ve all heard about Jesus many times, but that doesn’t mean they have a relationship with Him. I told them about how when I was little, I raised my hand every time my Sunday School teacher asked who wanted to ask Jesus into his or her heart. I imagined Jesus knocking on the door to my heart, I would say “come in,” He would open the door, and sit down. Clearly, I was a little confused.
When I was nine ,a major tornado hit where most of my extended family lived at the time. My mother used that event to get me thinking…One Sunday when the two of us were on our way to help with post-tornado clean-up at my cousins’ house, she asked, “Lisa, if the tornado had hit us harder and you had died, do you know if you would go to heaven or not?” Despite all those times I raised my hand in Sunday School I didn’t know. She then explained to me that I was a sinner (which I knew!) and deserved to go to Hell. But Jesus had died on the cross to pay for my sins. If I put my trust in Him alone, and accepted His gift of salvation, I could have eternal life in Heaven with Him. So, as we drove along in our mini-van, my mother prayed with me, and I gave my life to Jesus, becoming a part of His family.
That is the foundation of my life, of why I am here in Uganda.
Then I read from Psalm 68:5&6. It says:
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.”
I talked about it for awhile, knowing most of the children in front of me at the time were indeed fatherless. I talked about how it isn’t easy, and they often feel lonely. Sure they have their family as Juna Amagara, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. This verse doesn’t mean they will all be adopted. Rather, if they accept Gods gift of salvation, they can have God himself as their Heavenly Father. They will join me as a part of His family.
I just pray that my words spoke to their hearts…
Then they came inside, we passed out cookies, and drank sodas. Soon the full bottles that had filled the crate were exchanged with empty ones. Some went back outside to kick the balls around, while others stayed inside and checked out the pictures on my iPad.
As the sun set, they made the short walk back home.
I love these kids, and was glad to share a simple, but special evening with them.