I love the idea of dependent joy. Joy not depending on circumstance or environment but rather the presence, companionship, grace, and love of the Lord. Joy that comes from nothing but Jesus. That’s what I experienced in Uganda. It’s a joy I want to cling to every single day, whether or not I am surrounded by the beautiful children that are now 9,000 miles away, because this joy doesn’t depend on where I am physically, what material items I possess, or what I’m going through. It’s dependent on Jesus, whom I know is with me always.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV
The more I reflect on the three weeks I was given to spend in Uganda, the more apparent the lessons God taught me through the 96 children, their Maamas, and the Rafiki staff I had the blessing of spending time with. Going into this trip, I knew I had a passion for children and serving the marginalized abroad, but I had no idea the ways in which this trip would affect me. For three weeks, I was surrounded by the most joyful children I had ever met. They are playful, inquisitive, compassionate, grateful, and intelligent. I was quick to realize that this joy that exuded from their being was a result of their relationship with Jesus. There was no other explanation!
One of the biggest lessons I have taken away from my trip is that joy is attainable regardless of the circumstance you find yourself in when you know and have Jesus. Throughout my time, I had the opportunity to sit and talk to many of the children, learning about their past, what brought them to Rafiki, their current lives, and their goals moving forward. I found myself with a shocked expression when I heard of the atrocities and painful circumstances they had endured up to that point, only to replace that shock with thankfulness for the Lord’s grace, deliverance, mercy, and love that He has towards His children. His plans for their lives are incredible and it was an honor to witness even the smallest parts of them.
Despite the mountains many of them have faced, and continue to face, their faithfulness in the Lord results in their joyful expressions and outlook on life. It really opened my eyes and challenged me. How often do I find myself discouraged when I face an obstacle or opposition? More times than not, that’s for sure. However, I am feeling encouraged to further lean into God during these times and focus on His goodness, His faithfulness, His love, His grace, and His mercy. Leaving the Rafiki village was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I felt like I was leaving behind my family because I truly was. Over the three weeks, the children, Maamas, and staff had become my family. Despite the distance, I know that I can still seek after and maintain the joy that was so present throughout the village. It all comes down to Jesus. Knowing Him, seeking Him, and trusting Him.
Joy is infectious and how special would it be to share this joy with others the way the children in the Rafiki village in Uganda shared with me. I’m so excited for future opportunities to do just that.
Thank you so much, Managers On A Mission and Rafiki Foundation for the trip of a lifetime and a trip that helped me find my joy in Jesus.
More Jesus. More Joy.