In our pleasure seeking culture, imagine how thrilling it was to find myself walking with 25 other people in the Grace of God into a parking lot of the airport in Entebbe, Uganda greeted by the singing, dancing, and drumming of He Intends Victory, Uganda! Thrilling and amazing to be one of those people who came to Africa with their souls desire to love and be loved. But there I was, having traveled to this beautiful place with He Intends Victory International, an AIDS medical mission. Of course as God would have it, we were met everywhere we went in the next three weeks by people who also walked in the Grace of God, whether it was street kids, AIDS orphans, our beautiful drivers, Pastor Moses Drake Luswata, the villagers who sang, danced and drummed us into their villages or the children playing by the roadsides where we threw sweets or soccer balls out the windows of our vehicles.
In her grace and beauty, Dr. Kathy O’Connell, the medical director of HIV advised me on our first day in Uganda, “Please understand that you are the face of the Lord to these people.” Each day I prayed to live up to that truth and asked, “Please allow me to find the strength to be up to this task.” My prayers were answered not only in how I brought forth the Living God in me but how I was opened to the Living God in each person I touched on this beautiful continent.
In readying myself for the mission trip, I prayed to stay unattached to outcome, to be open to however God wanted this experience to unfold. However, I am human and have desires…my desire for this trip was twofold:
To be of service to God and to move toward experiences that will break my heart open to love.
I felt confident that if I found the courage to go I would be of service, and I did. What is more difficult to convey is how my heart was broken open, AND IT WAS, again and again in more ways than I thought possible.
I was broken open by…
- the beauty and grace of the people of Uganda and Kenya who have less than nothing in our definition of wealth but who possess a warmth and ability to love beyond what we can understand
- the joy of singing, dancing and drumming
- the smiles, hugs and kisses of the children
- the beauty of black and white together breaking down barriers
- the words of those who testified to their suffering and their joy
- the works of Pastor Bruce Sonnenberg, Executive Director of He Intends Victory who steadfastly told us that if you are HIV positive, you have the same value in the eyes of the Lord as we all do
- the gift of seeing those who are invisible
- the gift of hearing those who have no voice
- the gift of loving those who are seen as having no value
- the faces of the children as they ran toward the soccer balls thrown out of the window of our vehicle
- the family we became, and finally…
- witnessing the beauty, grace and courage of my 17 year old daughter, Emma, experiencing the same as me, amazed at her desire to be here having her heart broken open at such a tender age.
Thank you God, Thank you God, for this is the day the Lord has made.