Africa Take Two: Uganda

Amy’s been telling me stories about Uganda and the Village of Eden for years. I remember her first trip, before we were friends and before I left on the Race. I remember her second trip, right after I came home. I remember Drew saying they’d move there and Amy say they’d adopt from there, that God was in this place and in these people.

Then Drew started running with a purpose, with these people in mind and heart. He ran the entire Appalachian Trail and I heard stories over and over again of Uganda, these people, the Village, the children, the red dirt roads and wells springing up with water and Saturdays full of small voices lifted high, full hearts, and life-changing experiences.

562. Finally seeing the VOE that Amy has talked about for so long!
563. Reese’s before bed
564. A full heart & exhausted body at the end of the day. Oh Lord, help.

“You won’t want to come home,” they said. “You’ll fall in love there,” they said, but I think no one realized that I was in love with this place long before I stepped off the KLM flight in Entebbe and smelled Africa again. Or maybe they did and it was just me who didn’t know yet.

581. Praying with the woman whose husband left her
582. Little boy dance moves and how Africans sing
583. Spanish in the middle of Africa

It looked like everything I’d seen before but nothing I’d ever known. The smells were the same as Zimbabwe and India, the shops looked like Nica with airtime for sale everywhere. The buses were filled to the brim and the skies touched heaven like in Swaziland. The dirt felt the same in my hands. The smiles were just so big, eyes so full of joy, hearts overflowing with hospitality and gratitude and a desire to know each other – community. That mishpocha attitude where everyone is family and the excitement at seeing you is too much to bear. Beaming. Exhorting. Overwhelming. The mango trees were heavy with mangos and we were never far from avocados, pineapples as good as the Phillipines, or bananas. I’d forgotten how much I love beans and rice. I’d forgotten how much I loved to sing with these little voices and how easy it was to reach up and touch God.

Then He spoke.

He reminded me that He brought the disciples into the wilderness to rest, then fed the 5,000. He reminded me of Jeremiah and Hosea and Ezekiel and Isaiah when He said He’d meet Israel and Judah in the wilderness and speak tenderly to them. He implored me to open my heart and see, open my ears to hear Him speak. And He met me there.

589. Holding hands with the quiet ones
590. Giggles and grins and little hands chasing bubbles
591. Counting games in the dirt and plastic bag soccer balls

We spent our mornings going to schools to play games, make bracelets, sing songs, and learn about Jesus. We spent our afternoons walking through corn fields and tall grass to visit single mothers, families, and children with encouragement in our hearts, hopeful for healing and confident in God’s faithful love. We spent Saturday amidst a sea of 1500 children, voices lifted high, contagious peace flowing through hearts, little hands holding ours. Sunsets often rushed in with rain storms and cool breezes. We piled into vans and drove on washed out roads and sometimes where there was no road at all. We all lamented the one white rooster who felt the need to crow every few minutes to make sure we knew he was there.

614. Posho in pots like Swazi or Zim.
615. Putting together a puzzle in Africa
616. Sitting in the back where the troublemakers are

We carried tables and chairs into the courtyard on Sunday and filled our plates with rich food while God knit our hearts together. We spelled out Acts 2:46 with glad and sincere hearts from a handful of countries and continents, breaking bread like the disciples, and remembering Christ.

640. Finding kindred hearts that love the gathering
641. When God brings countries together – everyone bringing something to the table
642. Courage & bravery to be generous with God’s love

I remember how many times I’ve told people over the last three years that it’s easier to be a Christian in Africa, that I hear so clearly from God there. I’ve met that statement with both opposition and agreement, but the last two weeks proved this even more and my heart was planted in this place where barefeet pound the hard dirt roads and God is raising up a generation to reach a people He so desperately loves. Maybe, just perhaps, I hear so clearly from God there because it’s where I’m supposed to be.

Photos: Africa Take Two

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