Saturday, May 26, 2012

Loving with Abandon: My Summer in Uganda


By Laura K.



My name is Laura, and I am an expert at procrastinating packing.  I can think of a million other things to do, such as clip my fingernails, stare at a wall, write a packing list, type my packing list into a google doc, watch the shows I've missed on hulu (no, it's fine - I'll just have it on in the background), tell my roommate a funny story I've just remembered, go to Target for those last couple things I need (for the 7th time today), bake cupcakes... to name a few.  Procrastination is a not a good skill to have - especially if one has a big trip coming up.

In just a few weeks, on June 13 to be exact, I am packing my bags and heading to Uganda for the summer.  I will be spending my summer serving Jesus at an orphanage run by Rafiki Africa Ministries.  Volunteering at an orphanage is something that God laid on my heart a long time ago, but I didn't ever actually expect to go.  Thanks to prayer and google, I was connected with a ministry that has been praying for nurses and teachers to come as short term missionaries.  As a kindergarten teacher, I was excited to hear that I can be a blessing to these missionaries.  I don't want to do missions work for me - I want to go for Jesus. 

I teach Sunday school here at Hope CC, and when I told my Sunday school kids about my trip (and after we clarified that the orphanage I am going to is probably not going to be exactly like the orphanage in the musical Annie) I told them there are three main reasons I am going to Uganda.  I will tell you the same three reasons:

1.    To tell people about Jesus
2.    To teach children
3.    To see what God is doing in other parts of the world

I'm thrilled, scared, nervous, anxious (the good kind), and excited to get on that plane in a couple of weeks.  I can't wait to meet these precious little children that I have been praying for by name for so many months.  I don't know what God has in store for me, but I'm excited to find out.  I'll be keeping you updated each month here on the Women at Hope blog, but you can also follow along on my personal blog: merrydays.wordpress.com as I venture out on this summer missions adventure. 

God loves the fatherless, and throughout Scripture we find encouragement to care for those who cannot care for themselves.  Psalm 82:3 says, Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute."  Matthew 19:14 says, "but Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'"  1 John 3:16-18 says, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth."  James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says."  Wow - easier said than done.  But, I guess that is the point.  Loving others, showing mercy, taking care of those who need us to come along side them at this juncture in life - it takes intentionality.  It isn't going to happen by accident.  Obviously going to Uganda isn't the only way to show God's love, mercy, and goodness to others.  But I am really grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord with the gifts, passions, and talents that God has given me.  This isn't a two month and your done gig though.  I also need to be intentional in living that sort of life here in the States.

This spring I was part of the Women at Hope's Beth Moore Bible study on the book of James.  I learned a ton, and through the Bible study, God really affirmed His call on my summer.  James teaches a lot about social justice issues.  He teaches the importance of providing for those in need, looking after the orphan and the widow, and loving others.  The orphanage that I am spending my summer at is a small orphanage.  It opened its doors just a couple years ago and right now cares for 13 children.  I questioned whether I should be going to such a small orphanage.  In Beth's teaching (I like to think we're on first-name basis.  I think she'd agree), Beth reminded me that it isn't my job to save to world - that is God's job.  He is big enough for it.  (I definitely am not)  My job is to love those God puts in my life, and these 13 orphaned or abandoned children are definitely people God has put in my life for me to love.

My mom laid down some ground rules for my trip.  Two of which include: I have to come home, and I'm not allowed to bring any children back with me.  I know it is going to be hard to come home.  I want to fully love these kids with Christ's love, and when it is time to say goodbye, I'm not sure how I'll be able to handle that.  But I have been reminded that even though it might hurt - it is worth it - to share Jesus with people who need Him, and to bring support and encouragement to those who need it. 

I enjoy reading missionaries' blogs.  I love travel, I love learning about other cultures, and I love learning about what God is doing around the world.  Katie Davis is a missionary in Uganda.  In her blog, The Journey (kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com), she reminds us that we can't save anyone.  That is Jesus' job.  But we can love with abandon.

First Corinthians 16:14 says, "Let all that you do be done in love" and Ephesians 5:2 says, "And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  I have been thinking about this lately.  What does it look like to love with abandon?  What will it look like for my summer as a short term missionary in Africa?  What does that look like in my job as a teacher in a low-income area of the cities?  What does that look like in my relationships with my friends and family?  What does that look like as a part of our church community? 

So I ask: Will you join me this summer on a journey to love with abandon?  Wherever God has you... living in Christ's love and striving towards selflessly loving others?  

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