“Ay yai yai!” What a week it has been (you’ll understand the reason for this phrase if you keep reading) (;
First off, the Lord has showed up in BIG ways from the second I got here; weird, wonderful ways that make me fall deeper and deeper in love with my savior. I’ve been beyond blessed with the Lord leading me to Ekisa Ministries, Jesus and I are having some deep chats lately about exactly what he’s revealing to me, and it’s exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. I’m someone who tends to want and wait for (what I believe) to be explicitly clear “signs” from the Lord before I make any decision, and that’s not how it works. What I’m looking for is assurance-earthly assurance-and that’s just a lie. It’s the perception of control when there really is none.
This first week, on day one, God ripped that supposed control straight out of my clenched hands. The very first morning I woke up here and went out to breakfast, God had me face what I was most worried about-throwing up here and losing my appetite. Last time I went to Uganda I had really bad stomach issues that started before I came and resulted in me losing my appetite and not being able to eat for a week. Well that first day? I puked from my malaria pills and had no appetite. DAY ONE. But you know what? The Lord gave me this perfect peace that I can’t, can’t, praise him enough.
After that Sunday malaria pill debacle (me and malaria pills have issues friends…) I was so antsy to meet all of the residential kids at Ekisa (we stopped by for a quick minute Sunday but everyone was asleep) and just start learning from and serving with the people at Ekisa. I get asked a lot from friends, people I don’t know, randoms individuals on social media, and so on about exactly what i’m doing here. Well here it is: I’m learning. There is nothing special about me, I am not here to try and bring American ways to Uganda, I am not here to say I know better, I am not here to “change others lives” (yes people will say that…). I am here to learn. I want to learn from the children (and oh boy have I ever), the staff at Ekisa both western and Ugandan. I want to learn from the culture and about running an NGO in a developing country. I’m here to be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge plain and simple, and also if they need extra hands to help? I’ll help in anyway needed. But that is it plain and simple.
This first week was a little different than the next couple of weeks will look because the kids had the week off of school. Our typical morning will look like me spending my morning “shift” at school working in one of the classrooms and then back at the residential children’s home for my afternoon time. At the home even though there was no Ekisa Academy the residential kids still do school at the home during the day and that, so far, is what i’ve been primarily helping with.
I am so, so, so grateful that I get to intern with not only an amazing organization, but with amazing, sweet, godly, fellow interns (who I also learn a crazy amount from). We’ve all gotten along and had so many commonalities that not only am I growing in my teaching skills or my disability ministry skills, but also understanding and learning so much more about Christ and being a Christ follower.
Some highlights of this particular week?
- I rode my first Boda Boda… and am obsessed with it! I thought that I wouldn’t like the Boda, or that I wouldn’t feel safe, but oh my word, being on that Boda is my favorite thing. Looking at the passing hills and fields and sights of Uganda in all of it’s glory is nothing short of a magical, visceral experience. Being on the back of the Boda, closing your eyes, and just feeling the wind and being present in where you are will never get old. Typically when i’m most in love with Uganda is on the back of a Boda.
- There were a couple of birthdays this week. First off on Monday was one of the staff children’s birthday and we all went out for burgers right on the Nile. This place does two for one burgers on Monday’s and it’s pretty much the only place where they taste like a real american burgers. The view also cannot be beat! It was so nice that the Ekisa staff really goes above and beyond to make us all feel welcome and burger night was such a great way to meet everyone and start getting to know them.
- The second birthday this week just happened to be mine (; I turned 21 in Jinja Uganda and there truly is not a single part of the day I would change. It was a blissful day of being reminded what birthdays are. Birthdays celebrate the life that Jesus gave us, they’re not for us. They are for him and all he has provided in our lives. I spent the day being reminded that there is no greater gift in life than knowing Jesus and knowing his people. Really knowing his people… which is everyone around you. It was amazing to be sung to by very enthusiastic Ugandan mamas and the sweet silly voices of the kids underneath the beautiful African sun. I was present and loving every minute. Then the sweetest surprise, the executive director and his wife had us interns over for dinner and they surprised me with a vegan/allergy free cake (which may not sound like a feat but it sure is here!) that was delicious and just such a sweet gesture.
4. The rest of my time was spent getting my bearings and hanging out with the best kids in the World. One of the sweet kiddos always asks to show us his muscles and then goes “Ay yai yai” and my heart bursts every time with just how cute it is. The children at Ekisa don’t have an easy time… if Ekisa didn’t exist I can’t even let myself think about what their quality of life or living situations would be like. In Uganda it is seen as a curse to have disabilities and that those who have disabilities are worthless or from satan. Parents don’t acknowledge their children with disabilities, there is rampant child abuse, it’s not pretty. The children teach me so much every day, they are courageous, kind, smart, beautiful children of God who make this world a better place and i’m so grateful to know them. The stigma here is the hardest part for me because I just want to scream about how wrong it, but that won’t help anything-it would only hurt it and perpetuate it more so. So for now I sit back and I learn, and I wait for God to give me the moves i’m supposed to make.
5. Unfortunately a good amount of the residential kids our sick with bacterial infections and I caught it. In Uganda it is extremely common to go to the clinic and get prescribed antibiotics no matter what you have, and unfortunately that is exactly what I did before I knew. So I was told I have the bacterial infection, but i’ll never really know if it was that or just a cold, but I did get my first Ugandan doctor expirience blood draw and all
6. I saw blue chickens at Central Market, which is a giant market place in Jinja that sells everything from produce to clothing to home parts. You go and you have to bargain so that you don’t get cheated and pay a Mzungu (white person) price. It’s overwhelming and hectic and so much fun to go treasure hunting
What an amazing first week, if the Lord is already showing up like this I have no idea what will come next. Jesus gives abundantly more than you could dream, desire, or deserve.