Okay, so if you know me, you know that I love to do things the “right way”. I have been reading the Bible a long time (because it is the right thing to do) and I know that all followers of Jesus should be very unselfish and others-centered. This is what the Bible says. I have been praying a long time for the opportunity to be used by God to do good things in this world He made, for the people He loves, because it is good to help others. When God told me to go to Uganda I was incredulous that of all the places I had on the list of “want-to”s God would send me to one of the fewer places on the list of “don’t want-to”s, but since the reason I was going was all for others, I thought it was fitting.
As I mentioned in this post , I felt sure that while I was reluctant to go to Uganda, and certain that it was some sort of joke that God would send me, God made it clear that He was sending me to bless me, and it was no joke.
While I was in Uganda it didn’t feel like any joke. The students we taught to make feminine hygiene products were serious, careful, attentive learners. The head of the tailoring ministry was repeatedly and genuinely grateful that we came, and told us on many occasions that we were changing lives, that we were a huge encouragement to them, and that we were answering prayers. It was not a joke.
I went into things with a mindset of: “Okay, God, show me what You want me to see.” ”Do what you want to do through me.” ”Teach me what you want me to learn.”
What did I see? Beautiful, strong, dignified, graceful, faithful people. Potential for the nation of Uganda to prosper and truly thrive, and that the people already thrive in the best ways – they understand God better than most Americans ever will. That is the best thing a person can experience, and I believe that to truly know God is to thrive. No matter your circumstances.
What did I do? Well, not a whole lot, really. Somehow when I boarded the plane for Uganda I left most of my detailed, organized, driven spunk behind. I basically spent the whole week asking people what was happening next, where I should go, what I should do, and what time it was. In retrospect, I think this was largely due to jet lag and being thrown off my normal routine, but I didn’t realize this while there. I did have the opportunity to meet and get to know a lot of lovely people, I got to hear some of their stories, and I got to help teach some women how to sew on a treadle. I also got to tell a group of about 100 women (mostly Muslims and Hindus) about Jesus. But I can’t really take a whole lot of credit for any of that, because of the general haziness of my mental state. Basically, I felt like God was leading/dragging me around by my hand, saying, “Look at this! Isn’t it cool? And here – do this….wasn’t that great?! And over here, I have this great surprise for you! Did you know I’m like this? Well, I Am!” There was so much to take in I didn’t feel particularly useful. But I also felt like it wasn’t really necessary for me to excel because God clearly was without any help from me. :)
What did God teach me? The biggest takeaway I have from the trip is that God really loves me. That He really did send me around the world to bless me. I got to be a blessing, but not because I am so fabulous, but because He chose to let me be part of the fabulous blessings He was waiting to give to the Ugandans. I got to see God in beautiful ways, maybe not new to me, exactly, but bigger and brighter and more obviously caring than I had had the opportunity to see Him before. I learned that God is eagerly waiting to answer prayers. That He is Able. That He doesn’t discount or diminish my little contributions, but that He really wants to expand my reach through prayer. No matter my lack of ability at the time, He wants me to talk to Him about what I saw and who I met, and He wants to carry on the impact of my visit for eternity. I do not live in Uganda, nor do I think I should at this time, and I can’t work in the lives of the people there to disciple, encourage, or build them up much more than I already have. But God lives all over the world, and has people He wants to use to disciple, encourage, and build up others. If I ask God to work in Uganda, He will.
I came home and between the effects of jet lag and PMS (It was lovely. You wish you were me.) I was really struggling. Finally I had to confront the feelings I had that I had gotten So. Much. Benefit. from the trip and left such a small mark. I felt guilty for having so much fun in a country that is so poor. I felt guilty for not doing more, and having no intention of staying long to continue to work there. I told God how I felt.
I heard the Holy Spirit saying, “Who do you think you are? Who are you to say that it’s not worth it to Me to send you halfway around the world just because I love you and I knew you would enjoy it? Who are you to say that if you leave no positive impression at all that I can’t use that for the good of every person you met? Who are you to think that just because you are home again, that I am not still working in Uganda? Who are you to think that the prayers you pray for these people will not be heard and acted upon? Who do you think you are? I hold the power. Not you. And, incidentally, I really love you. It was worth it to Me.”