Surprised by Joy: Africa Edition {Part 1}

To be perfectly honest with you, I do not want to be writing this blog post.
Because it is simply too overwhelming.
Because I have no idea where to begin.
Because I cannot even begin to describe my experiences in Uganda.
Because it means I am no longer there.
I guess I’ll start with my camera sob story. My camera suffered some water damage about halfway through the trip and was out of commission. HAHA. That would happen. So a lot of these photos are from either the first week or were taken on another person’s camera. HUGE THANK YOU TO MY WONDERFUL TEAMMATES. They were so willing and patient with my photo urges.
Now to the actual pictures. It all started at AIM training camp on July 6 in Gainesville, Georgia. I walked into it knowing no one, and came out with 16 women who I love with my whole heart. God really did amazing things in the way He put Team Uganda together. I do not have time to tell those stories here, but be sure to ask me about it sometime.
On July 8, Team Uganda headed to the Atlanta airport. I laugh just thinking about our crazy night spent in one of the biggest airports in the nation. {ATL-D.C.-ABBA} After 20 hours in transit, we made it to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. These were our first footsteps on African soil, and they were AWESOME. Ethiopia is BEAUTIFUL from the sky, but it is probably my least favorite airport.
After a layover and a few more hours of travel time, we descended into Entebbe. At last we had arrived in Uganda. PRAISE THE LORD!
We stayed in a house in Kisaasi, a suburb of the capitol city of Kampala. Our house was called the Jesus House, and from the minute I heard it’s name, I had shivers. The Jesus House is part of a ministry called Kyampisi Childcare Ministries {more lovingly called “KCM”}, which I will talk more about later. When we arrive, there was another team of 7 girls from Winona State University staying at the House. I am so grateful that the 24 of us got to be housemates for a time. Team Uganda was so incredibly blessed in and by the Jesus House and those who worked there. I do not have many good pictures of the actual house, but I do have lots of photographs taken there.
One of the perks of the house was the pet monkeys, Naguwa and later Mambo.
Meet George. Sassy, sassy George. George lived with us at the Jesus House for about a week and a half. Why? Because George is a victim and survivor of child sacrifice. He arrived at the Jesus House after two months in Australia on the same day we did. In Australia, he was given reconstructive surgery nearly three years after his attack. George is a miracle boy, and it was a privilege to live with his hilarious self. I pray that God does big things through him.
George’s story brings me to Kyampisi Childcare Ministries. KCM is the ministry that Team Uganda worked with for the entirety of our trip. Kyampisi is a small village about a 40 minute bus drive from the Jesus House (in the city).  Taken from their website, KCM  “aims to give vulnerable children physical, emotional and spiritual springboards which will enable them to live lives that are full, productive and positive.” God is doing crazy things in Kyampisi. Today, I received word from my friends at KCM that 6 people were baptized. SIX. IN A CHURCH OF LESS THAN 75.  One was a former witch doctor. And that is just one story of God’s redemption in Kyampisi. It is a beautiful village, that I have grown to love, and I miss it more than I ever thought was possible.
Team Uganda did quite a variety of different things in the village, but primarily we visited schools. Many of these students come from broken homes. Our mission was not building homes, providing education, feeding the hungry, or clothing the orphans. It was not material. Quite frankly, it was sometimes extremely difficult to not see visible amazing results. We eventually realized that we do not need visible results for two reasons. First, because this was not about us. And second, sometimes the greatest results are not visible.
Team Uganda brought JOY.
JOY found in singing, dancing, and holding these children close.
JOY because Yesu a cagula {“Jesus loves you” in Lugandan}.
JOY because these children have a heavenly Father who never fails them.
JOY because God is good.
And in return, these children gave me joy.
Their reality.
It is moments like these when you just say “T.I.A.” {this is africa}.
There are so many more photographs {even though my camera broke} and so many more stories to share.
Look for more.

“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor playhouse. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with him.”

4 thoughts on “Surprised by Joy: Africa Edition {Part 1}

  1. Thanks for sharing!! I love what God is doing in Uganda with the seeds that you and your team planted. He used you. Those children knew LOVE and JOY and PEACE and FUN because of you. Thanks for going and loving well!! I can’t wait to see/hear more about it!

  2. I know that God has changed you in ways that will surprise you in the next few months and years! Thanks for being willing to go to Uganda, and thanks for sharing these gorgeous photos of your trip.

  3. You need to submit this to some magazine Lydia. Amazing.
    Survivor of child sacrifice? Human depravity knows no limits…

  4. My friend just sent me a link to your blog, saying she thinks we’d be kindred spirits. I also just got back from Africa after spending 2 months in Uganda. And I’m sad to be home. Your writing and your pictures are beautiful and they are therapy for my soul. Thank you for sharing.

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