Rusty red roads snaking through the greenest countryside I’ve ever seen. Hills covered in homes with the same rust-colored roofs. Children playing and laughing along the dirt roads that we’re driving along, Uncle Toby maneuvering through chaotic traffic and dodging the intense amount of potholes.
Traveling to Uganda was something I had only dreamt of. I never thought I would be provided an opportunity to travel 9,000 miles across the world but God truly knows the desires of our hearts and His callings are beyond any of my wildest dreams.
When I first arrived in the Rafiki village, I was speechless. My insides bursted with excitement, my heart was beating out of my chest, I couldn’t believe I had finally reached my final destination after almost thirty hours of travel. I could not wait to see the faces of the children I had been praying for and preparing my heart to meet.
Walking into the cafeteria that first day to a sea of curious faces and stares, I wondered if that’s how God feels when we get to experience Him, we’re in shock, disbelief, excitement, curious for Him. But nothing, not even awkward silence and stares, could amount to the joy I felt as I sat at my first meal with a group of young girls. Olivia, Tendo, Lilian, Rachel, Teopista, Josephine, Sophie, and Gloria welcomed me with hushed voices that soon turned into endless riddles, firing one after another, and deep-belly laughs over my favorite meal - beans, chopati, and fresh pineapple.
God’s presence is amplified when I’m surrounded by these children. His joy and love for us is exclaimed through their laughter or excitement when they make a basket or make their overhand serve over the net for the first time. Using the platform of sports has not only allowed us to connect over a common passion, but has granted us the ability to come together and glorify God in these times we’re spending learning and playing. Collectively, we’re learning way more than how to shoot a basketball or make the perfect set. And as much as I’d like to think we’re the ones teaching here, God has been actively teaching me through the kids. I’ve seen the goodness and purity of their childlike faith, their forgiveness and grace through mistakes and misunderstandings, their intentionality in daily tasks, and I’ve also learned how to eat a plateful of food, big enough to sustain me for three entire meals, in less than 15 minutes so we can continue playing outside.
God planted a seed within my heart to serve his children all around the world and to have the opportunity to do so through sports in Uganda is something I will cherish forever. I’ve come to the conclusion that three weeks will never be enough time with these children but I am forever changed by their hearts, determination, and desire for Jesus.
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