23 years in the making

I was five years old when I first felt the call to Uganda. Five-year-old me wanted to take the broccoli that I didn’t want to eat to the children who didn’t have food. I packed all the essentials a five-year-old would need (three pairs of pajama pants and my favorite stuffed bear) into my Minnie Mouse suitcase and tried to walk there. I made it as far as the end of our sidewalk before my mother found me and had to explain things to me like geography and airplanes.

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I was disappointed, but the desire to help Ugandans never went away. Over the next 23 years I would read every book, sign up for every opportunity I could, and try everything in my power to get to Uganda and start helping. Each time I had the chance to help, God would shut the door so forcefully, I felt like I had spiritual whiplash. It got to the point where I was so tired of hearing the words “not yet” that I gave up. I knew that I was never going to get to go to Uganda and so why should I risk the heart break and disappointment? My time and talents had to be for somewhere else.

I went through a lot during that time period and completely walked away from my faith. There were a lot of factors that went into that decision, but I was mostly just tired of not being enough. I wasn’t enough for my parents, my friends, my school, my church and I wasn’t enough to help the people of Uganda. When I found my way back to Christ, I still held onto that lie that I wasn’t enough to help. The desire to go to Uganda was so buried under all of my other junk that I forgotten the most important part of God’s no.

It wasn’t a no. It was a “not yet.”

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Six years after I found my way back to Christ, I found myself at Moody Bible Institute-Spokane. While there we are required to complete something called Practical Christian Ministry. Basically, we have to volunteer 2 hours of our time with an organization exhibiting Christ’s love in some way. I had no idea what I was going to do, but my school had invited local ministries to come and talk to students in the hopes of matching us up. Towards the end of the conference, I had a lot of potential places to check out, but I was going to have to do some creative scheduling to make it work. As I was leaving, a flyer for a mission trip caught my eye and I stopped at that table to talk to the leader about it.

At this point I feel like it’s important to say that sane people should never do what I did. You should not stop at a table to talk to a strange man. You should not get invited to that strange man’s house to “meet his family” and then go to their house. You should not get convinced to go to the store and get ice cream with them and stay for a movie. Looking at it objectively, this was a really dumb move. Thankfully we serve a God who moves in ways we do not understand. I did all of those things, and Chris Rodgers was not an axe murderer and he really does have a family who was all too eager to meet me and welcome me into their family.

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That night I was introduced to the idea of MAMO. While eating our ice cream, Marchauna told me about MAMO and how there was a group of people who wanted to get this started, but they really needed a financial person. Dumbfounded, I raised my hand and told her “Is now a good time to tell you I’ve been a tax preparer for the past 7 years?”. She told me that I was an answer to her prayer that she had started praying the morning her husband met me.  What she didn’t know was she was the answer to a prayer I had so deep in my heart, that not even I knew I was praying it anymore.

But God knew, as he always does, and had a plan for me to be sitting on that couch at that very moment to start something that had been a desire of my heart since I was five years old.  I got into my car that night and immediately called my mother. I started telling her all the ways these random talents and skills I have were coming together to help start this.

“Mom, you’ll never going to guess what country they want to help.”

“Are you going to say Uganda? Don’t tell me it’s Uganda.”

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It was Uganda. My mom and I both started crying. It was Uganda. The place that I had felt a burden to help since I was a child. I felt like me, the person God had crafted for the last 23 years, was enough to help. I was exactly the person whom He intended for this position before any of us knew this is what we were going to be doing. The next few months were spent working my tail end off to get us up and running, and the past year had been spent working just as hard to keep the organization functioning financially.

That night on the couch at the Rodger’s home, God turned my “not yet” into a very clear “The time is now.” Right now, He was calling me to radical faith, stepping into the plans he had for me all along. He knew everything that had to happen to get me to Uganda. He knew the support system I would need, the people I needed to work with, the families I needed to be accepted into. He knew it all.

23 years after I first tried to walk there, I started to cry as I watched the red dirt and brilliant green trees rise up to meet us at the airport in Entebbe. My time was now, and I was about to set foot onto Uganda soil and meet children that I had been helping for the past year and realize how faithful and good our God is. It took 23 years, but my time is now. Our time is now to help.

 

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