Arut is a beacon of hope

Often times we expect to experience the road previously travelled in the same way. This was my expectation of my trip with Adonai Partners to Uganda this summer, after having gone on several mission trips in my teens. Yet, my experience was different. The people we met and the circumstances we faced broke my heart and in a way broke me. But God was faithful to provide hope and to show His glory.

My journey began in Kampala where I joined team members from Canada, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, the United States and Uganda. Through worship and prayer and various training sessions we became molded together in preparation to serve. Our service began first in Namuwongo, a poorer area of Kampala, where a ministry for children was located. There we had the opportunity to minister to people in the mini-market area, talking, encouraging and praying with them. I met a young boy, and several ladies, Prossy, Jennifer, Alice and Sarah, each of whom had a basic desire to work in order to take care of themselves and their families. Prossy, a young girl of 16, managed her sister’s stall in the market, selling tomatoes and other fruit, most of which were already spoiling. As I prayed with her and the other ladies, I was troubled by my inability to meet their needs and was struck by their need for God’s hand in each of their circumstances.

As the trip continued, God continued to open my eyes to the suffering of the people we ministered to. We arrived in Gulu District in northern Uganda after a long, seven hour, dusty and sometimes bumpy drive passing the Nile River. There we conducted medical and dental missions in Dino and Arut. We went first to Dino and were immediately met by hundreds of mothers, fathers and their children, some of whom had trekked 20km from surrounding towns to get medical assistance. We were told that some families had even arrived the previous night in order to ensure that they would receive help. We worked tirelessly through the day to take temperatures, get patient symptoms, prescribe and hand out medication. The people, many with small and infant children, waited patiently in the hot sun to be treated. In the midst of this great medical need, I felt incredibly overwhelmed. Often, I wished I was a doctor, if only to meet some of their physical need. I became discouraged and disillusioned as I felt within the limits of my capacity to help. After praying with Uncle ‘Sege’, a fellow team member, I decided that though I personally could not offer medical solutions to the problems I saw, I could at least pray. And as I took temperatures and blood pressure readings, I prayed for the people – father and his daughter who was ill, the mother of twins (a boy and a girl), the mother of new born twin girls, the grandmother who reminded me of my own late grandmother, and many more. I surrendered these people to the One who is able to do more than we can ever think or imagine. And while this experience broke me, saddened me and at times made me want to give up, God was still at work.

We continued our trip to Arut, where Adonai Partners has planted a church that is growing. Arut was a beacon of hope after the overwhelming experiences I encountered in Dino and Kampala. It was a peaceful setting. A large open area flanked by makeshift stalls where we would see patients, the newly constructed church building, and several huts that served as residence for the nursery school  teachers. Off to the left was a large shady tree, under which the people waited patiently for us to begin the medical and dental outreach. Arut offered me the chance not only to work in the pharmacy as in Dino, but to spend time with the children, especially the young girls that came. I was grateful for the opportunity to talk with several teenage girls, like Stella and Miriam, and to encourage and remind them of their worth in Christ.  Many of these girls, though still under the age of sixteen, were approaching the age where they would soon become young wives and mothers. This is a crucial time for the girls, because it determines their life opportunities.  We were able to encourage them and other young mothers that they could strive for a better life.  However, this better life is difficult to achieve in view of the lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, education and health.

Despite this, Arut offered me hope and a reminder of what God can do when people rise up to serve Him. As a result of the work of Adonai Partners, there is a church planted, a nursery school, clean water and a community that is thriving and growing. I was particularly blessed by the spirit of thanksgiving among the people. The pastor and village elders presented my father with a male goat as their expression of gratitude for the work that Adonai Partners is doing in their community. This joy expressed, and the light in the midst of the darkness of poverty and seeming hopelessness, humbled me and gave me hope for the future. And so I thank you for giving me the opportunity to return to the mission field this summer. Though, it was a challenging trip, through it all God’s grace was revealed. I thank every one of you who supported me with your prayers and financially. Your gift was a blessing to me and the many people I met whose lives were impacted by the mission trip.