Last weekend, a friend and I took a day trip to Jinja, a quaint little town two hours east of Kampala, most famous for its location at the beginning of the Nile river (side note: I‘ve now been to the beginning and end of the Nile, a feat I‘m rather proud of). 🙂 We went to Jinja to visit Amazima, an incredible organization that has quite a story behind it.
In 2006, a young American girl named Katie came to Uganda to volunteer at an orphanage for a year, right after she graduated from high school. Now, four years later, she lives in Uganda full-time, has adopted 14 young Ugandan girls who were orphaned and abandoned, runs a child sponsorship program for more than 400 kids, and has her own non-profit 501(c) (3) organization, called Amazima (the Luganda word for “truth“).
Sounds crazy, right?
That’s what I thought too – especially when I realized that we were the same age. I thought about both the differences and similarities of our lives. At age 22, we’ve both ended up in Uganda, seeking the Kingdom of God by trying to bring redemption to the most broken members of society, yet our stories are incredibly different.
I’m in an office most of the day, editing documents, designing schedules, buying office supplies, throwing around words like “marriage formalization” and “succession law” and “letters of administration.” She homeschools her girls (just that fact alone is impressive!), walks in the slums of Jinja, seeking out the most unloved of the unloved, and loves them like Jesus, bandaging their wounds, giving them food, praying over them… just loving them. I only met her briefly, so don’t know all the details about how the Lord has led her through the last four years, but if you want to learn more, check out her blog: Kisses from Katie. Her story is undoubtedly a testimony to God’s incredible faithfulness.
Part of me envied her. Please don’t get me wrong, I love my job and every day I grow more and more grateful for the chance to live in Uganda and work for IJM with such a team of inspiring Christian professionals. The transformation that we see in the lives of our clients is truly inspiring and it still is a dream come true to work here. But there’s something so raw, so powerful about the idea of seeking out the most abandoned and abused children and adopting them as your own – it evokes so strongly the essence of God’s love for us as His children.
I’m still wrestling with my reaction to my visit there. Even my few hours there reminded me of my experiences at the Sisters of Charity orphanage in Cairo, and the Children of Promise orphanage in Cambodia – where some of my most formative cross-cultural experience occurred. I know that the grass is always greener on the other side, whether you’re comparing between Uganda and America or comparing between one type of ministry in Uganda and another.
The friend I was with put it this way: “We’re always wanting to be the hands, instead of the eyes, the feet instead of the ears, or vice versa.” And honestly, I don’t know if I’m cut out for the type of work that Katie does. It’s a hard, hard life – just read her blog and you’ll see that for every blessing, there are a thousand sorrows to go with it. But there still is something incredibly appealing about the life she lives.
- Even in Christian ministry it’s easy to be discontent and wonder “what if…“
- God calls all sorts of people into all sorts of jobs in order to further his Kingdom
- The bottom line is that ultimately, my task is simply to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Him, whether that’s into the slums of Jinja or into another day of work at the office.
On a lighter note, we got to spend some time hanging out with the kids and taking pictures of their impressive facilities they’ve built for the 400 kids who come over every Saturday for Bible teaching, singing, playing games, and lunch (just think VBS). This summer, they completed a huge playground, probably unparalleled in scope and impressiveness in all of Uganda. The kids loved it, and so did I!