Honestly, I’m not sure how to even begin to summarize the past four and a half months. I’d like to tell you how it’s been all sunshine and roses and how easy it’s been to thrive here but the truth is that it’s been hard, it’s uncomfortable, it’s emotionally draining, it’s exhausting and it’s exactly where God wants us right now. Here are some things I’ve learned to be true. I know the past four months have been some of the most rewarding months of my life while simultaneously being some of the hardest. I know there is a big difference in taking a mission’s trip and living everyday life in a culture not your own. I know mosquitoes are my least favorite creature on the face of earth, however snakes are a close second (more on that later). I know that 78 degrees on the equator feels more like 98 degrees. I know what it feels like to not have running water for a few days and how thankful I was when it returned, and water easily flowed from the tap. I know that the devil is real and would try to do anything he can to discourage us and make us feel like “it isn’t worth it, that the problem is too big and even if we change a few young men we can’t entirely change the culture they live in so what is the point?” I know that previous statement well because it’s the lie I’ve believed on some of my hardest days. I know that 18 young men have been loved, cared for, and discipled in a way we pray allows them to experience the love of the Father. I know that God is so faithful and
“For our momentary and light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
The first few weeks of term one were marked by getting to know the boys, learning some individual details about their lives and beginning to build a foundation for a deeper relationship. Our Ugandan partner, Uncle Ahmed, has been a special gift to us. Not only is he an excellent work partner, he’s also wise beyond his years in dealing with issues with the boys and has helped us be better at our job here. We’d have made many mistakes without his guidance and cultural influence in decision making, we are so grateful God placed us with him in this season. One of the things we love most about this job is that it is all about building relationships that point the students to Christ. We don’t feel the urge to push the boys into a new relationship with Jesus or to grow faster than the Spirit is leading them because this model of daily discipleship over a period of time allows God to work and for them to ask the hard questions and discover for themselves that He is who He says He is and that His Word is alive and He can be trusted.
Our typical week consists of early morning devotions (6:45 am), afternoon sports, conversations, homework and games on the veranda. On Tuesday afternoons we have Clubs, they are essentially an extracurricular activity where students get to choose an area of interest to learn skills pertaining to. Some of the club offerings are chef, auto-mechanics, photography and entrepreneurship to name a few. Each family mentor is assigned a club to advise and this year Ben and I are advisors to the Service and Stewardship Club. On Wednesday mornings we don’t have house devotions because it’s “Wash Day” where the students wash their clothes, by hand, and hang on the line to dry between 5:30 – 7 am. On Wednesday’s after dinner we have Chapel and it’s either “free worship” that is a student led night of music or KAMP (Kids at Amazima moving with passion) where we have worship time, a speaker and then we break into small groups for discussion on what was taught during chapel. Family Mentors are also facilitators of the small groups, so I along with 3 other female mentors lead a group of 10 girls for personal conversations and talking out issues, questions, prayer requests etc. Ben does the same for 10 boys. On the weekends we are assigned on Saturday mornings an area of campus to carryout cleaning duties for “campus chores,” there aren’t any “janitors” here, so all cleaning is done by the students. One Saturday each term our house does a service project in the village, the one we took part in during term one was for a grandfather raising two of his grandsons. We did general cleaning, laid a brick sidewalk to help keep mud from flowing into the house when it rained and moved a cow that was too close to the house and making the children sick. It was humbling to serve this family and to witness how wholeheartedly the boys served this man was inspiring. Generally, on Saturday evenings the Student Life department has a whole school activity planned such as game nights, movie nights, talent shows etc. On Sunday mornings we have worship service at 10:30 am and then the remainder of the day is free for the students for homework, sports, games etc. Each Sunday evening, we have house meetings where we are cultivating an encouraging environment by first pointing out things we’ve been proud of in individuals through the week and the asking the boys to do the same. We also use that time to discuss any issues that need to be addressed to help make the house run more smoothly. We also got to visit some of our boys families prior to the first term visitation day, the home visits are primary to the mission of The Amazima School to show these families they are valued and loved and that we are not here to replace them but to simply come alongside them in shepherding their children as they grow. We will be on home visits again this week prior to the start of term two on Monday, May 27th.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
I am defiantly in a process of learning to trust God in ways I never have before and although being stretched and refined is never fun in the moment it leads us into a deeper relationship with the Father and that makes it all worth it.
A few prayer requests as we begin term two:
- For God to continue opening the hearts of the boys who are struggling to believe.
- That seeds from first term will have fallen on fertile ground.
- For courage to endure even when it’s hard.
- For the missionary community here on campus be united and working together in love daily for our good and His glory.
Thank you all so much for loving, supporting and praying for us faithfully on this journey. We couldn’t do this without the army of support we have and we are eternally grateful.