Uganda the Beautiful

Confession: I started this post when I returned from Uganda over the Summer. It’s hard to write when you are in the re-entry period. Glad to revisit (and finish) this post as I prepare to head back for a special Christmas trip. This post also contains a nice parallel of current me interjecting on the thoughts of past me. Weird.

There’s nothing quite like jet-lag, pinched nerves and a looming first day of school. And also the realization that, while 32 is young, the body does indeed start to reject certain notions like sitting on airplanes for international flights. Being numb from hip to knee is maybe the most un-awesome thing I’ve experienced lately. (I now know that a deeply-burrowed jigger was causing a large portion of my leg issues)

Aside from that my recent trip to Uganda was everything I’ve come to expect from such a diverse and beautiful country. Our little team was honored to work with organizations such as Pillars of Hope, Canaan Children’s Home, Healing Faith Uganda, Sixty Feet, Ebenezer Children’s Home and Return Ministries Uganda. We played soccer, blew bubbles, installed mosquito nets in village homes, preached hope in Jesus and provided basic baby education. I threw that last detail in there… but it wasn’t really in the plan.

We literally stumbled upon a baby in a children’s home. The home was clearly not set up nor educated for baby care but they were doing the best they could. Moments later I was spotted with said child tucked into a  football hold in my right arm, climbing over seats in our van to retrieve some baby formula a team member had randomly thought to bring along. Our sweet driver was mildly shocked but obediently folded down seats as I implored him to help me drag a suitcase from the back. ( I did ask permission to take the baby, all was well) My sweet little friend enjoyed many many ounces of formula before rewarding me with a smile. And then there were more babies. And fortunately we had more formula in the van. (the power of the internet has allowed me the ability to watch these kiddos thrive over the past months, elated to see them again soon)

We were able to give some basic education and guidance, we wrote a feeding schedule and stocked up their supply of baby formula. Things that seem so basic… how to make a bottle, how often to feed, don’t skip feeding just because the baby isn’t crying… are not basic to a culture where breast feeding is typically the only way to feed an infant. When a mother dies in childbirth there is no milk. And formula is expensive and unavailable in many places. It’s easy to judge. Why aren’t these babies being fed??!! But given culture, climate and resources what else would they know to do? Just like the malaria epidemic that Healing Faith is working to combat, baby care requires basic education that goes against the cultural norm. It is my continued observation that one of the greatest things we as outsiders can contribute is education. Ugandans are smart, resourceful and resilient. Given the correct tools they need very little from us.

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(current me, taking over)

For me, a trip to Uganda isn’t just about what I can do for people. Of course I want to be helpful. We all do. We see need and for the most part we respond with compassion. And compassion leads into a natural desire to do and fix. But aside from being helpful I want to simply be available. I want to meet divine appointments that are set ahead for me. I want to always say yes. I want to hurt with people and understand people who live different lives. Not only for myself, but for my children. And for that reason I have given in to my son’s constant request: take me with you. Against fear, against convenience and against finances I’m going to take him with me in December. My prayer is that making this journey to serve at a young age will change and equip him to live a life of compassion and empathy. That he will be inspired by my Ugandan friends and that he will value their place in the world. He thinks he is ready. But he isn’t. No one really is. It still breaks me every time. I look forward to processing and serving with him. Perhaps the first of many times.

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About the author

Erica

Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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