Our morning was full of emotion because Dennis shared Linda’s story with us. Read Nuper’s blog to get more details about it. I knew Linda as a young 15-year-old girl helping take care of New Dawn, Maggie and Dennis’ baby. I know now Linda is a girl that was taken in by Maggie and Dennis after they found her in a distant village with a broken tibia. Nobody pointed her out to him. Nobody asked for healing prayer for her. She just sat there waiting for everyone to leave, and she caught Dennis’ eye. He then witnessed her crawling on the ground. She had been living with a broken leg for 4 months. She had to crawl everywhere and drag her leg behind her.
I broke my tibia 6 months ago in a UTV accident. It was by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. And here is this girl living with it, experiencing the pain constantly. I want to paint the picture for you. These villages are remote. The roads are dirt roads. The latrines are dirty, I at times feel dirty from just standing in them—she had to crawl in them. She has one good leg, one unusable leg, and two hands to crawl on. Every bump, and every pull on the leg causes extreme pain. Miserable. The meeting between Dennis and Linda was God ordained. Period.
Dennis was getting emotional when he was talking about it, I could tell his heart hurt for this young girl. Thankfully, Maggie and Dennis took her in. They got her into a children’s hospital where they had to re-break the bone and reset it because it had partially fused back together. Linda has been living with them for some time now, and today was her first day of going back to school. Dennis asked us to pray over here before her first day of school after a four year leave of absence. It was a very powerful and emotional moment for the entire team.
Folks, the only reason Mission Uganda exists is because of Maggie and Dennis. If they were not Christians with the utmost integrity, this would not work. Maggie and Dennis are the real deal. They are changing lives in Uganda in the name of Jesus. They are faithful followers of Christ, who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. If you question whether you can trust the Ugandan side of Mission Uganda, don’t. There are so many stories of what Dennis and Maggie are doing over here, we probably only know about .01% of what good they have done over here. I feel like I have the gift of discernment, an ability to evaluate good intentions and bad intentions in people. My discernment says these are not just good people, they are great people and without a doubt, my friends on the mission team would say the same.
Almost every day on the bus ride to or from our schools, Nuper breaks out some ice breaker questions. It has certainly helped me learn more about my friends. Today, we spent some time looking at bota botas and what all they carry on the back of those things. Here’s a list: 4 passengers, babies, a door, 8 foot long lumber (cross-ways on the seat), rerod, dead chickens, porridge, ice cream cooler, a 100 gallon water tank with water, crops and fruit, a box of 36 soccer balls, and Anna. They even strap a temporary coffin and transport bodies on them. They rely heavily on the bota bota for transportation of people and goods over here.
Our first school was a delight and we were fortunate enough to share so many things with the kids and teachers. Today, I got to share about Jesus being a light, but not before Nuper introduced me as a police officer who is SCARY. In law enforcement we deal with this often, so I was able to easily roll with it. Parents will often threaten their young kids with being arrested, creating a fear of law enforcement. We want kids to like us, not fear us. After the tense introduction, I talked to the older kids and adults, explaining to them the importance of being a light in the midst of darkness. I told them it was important for them to share love as a follower of Christ, in order to attract people to Him. There is nothing that will push people away from Christ more quickly than someone who says they’re Christian, but acts and behaves like a follower of the world. It actually led in well to our skit about walking the narrow road vs. walking the wide road.
We left the school and headed to the second school. This school happened to be at the same place where the soccer tournament was occurring. We were greeted in the most amazing manner. The entrance into the school was lined, single file, with children. There were probably 500 kids. They were clapping and cheering. When we are greeted with such enthusiasm, it just reiterates what we are doing. The need for porridge and math sets are so great, that they sing, dance, and cheer out of excitement for the blessings we bring. The soccer balls are just an extra blessing that the kids get to experience.
After the greeting we entered the school directors office. We were periodically interrupted by vavoozalas being blown outside the windows (horns blown at soccer games). The director had some kind words for us, and we exited to spend time with the kids. This place was nuts! There were so many kids, so many people just mingling around because of the games. We couldn’t hear each other talk because of the crowd noise, the kids, and the ice cream truck Christmas Music being played about 10 feet from us. We decided no skit, and Derek would speak for the entire team. This gave me the opportunity to achieve one of my goals for this trip. Carrying a 100 lbs. bag of porridge from the truck to the delivery site. I did it no problem, and Anna even got it on video. I had prepared for this before the trip by putting 95 lbs. on a bar in the weight room and walking around the gym. My broken leg is still not fully healed, but the metal rod is strong enough to hold the extra weight.
After the first semi-final match we were seated at the field for several schools to perform a song and dance. Kids filled in all around us. Dawn and Heather are kid magnets. They interact so well. Pappy usually has a few on his lap at some point. We watched the final match and didn’t go without some entertainment. At every soccer final, we have a couple of play-by-play announcers, one from each village. They announce the game while mixing in some comedy.
Here are just a few of their comedy lines:
- “I want Bruce to be my father, wait no, probably more like my grandfather.”
- “American ladies, just so you know, my marriage is really struggling right now.”
- “In case anyone gets hurt, we have a doctor from India here” (there was no Dr.).
- “That’s a miss, he probably should have prayed before he shot.”
- “I’m getting a vision, a prophecy…”
It took five people to get the trophy bull on the field. They pulled, tugged, and pushed that thing onto the field. The trophy goat wound up wearing a netball jersey. We gave away 9 soccer balls to participating soccer teams and 5 balls to netball competitors.
I want to share a cool story about one of the competitors from a soccer game. The referees we hire to referee the games are professionally sanctioned through the Federation of Uganda Futbol Associations (FUFA). They do a great job! We found out that they also serve as scouts for professional soccer teams. One of the boys that played in a Mission Uganda sponsored game was taken to a professional team within days of the game he played in. The referees got him connected to a professional club over here, and his life is now dramatically changed at the age of 15. God can and has been using sports to bless people and bring people to praise him and worship him.
On the bus ride home I got to sit next to Mesach. I shared pictures from home with him. When we got home, Mesach and I had a push-up competition. It was a hard fought battle, and Tony even jumped in the mix. Those guys are so much fun! The Americans won this competition! Tomorrow is wall push-ups. Lets hope Mesach doesn’t challenge us to a cow wrangling competition!
I am always thinking about Nabatanzy. God has a special place in my heart, and I pray that I can help give her a future. Today, Tony will be visiting the school and grandmother, to tell them that my wife and I would like to sponsor her in boarding school. Bruce and Dawn got their hearts tugged and contributed to the cost of tuition for Nabatanzy and her siblings, I’m forever grateful to them for this. Please pray for this meeting to go well and for these kids to have their lives dramatically changed in a Christ honoring way. Also, please continue to pray for Steven and Mark.
In closing, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit is lighting fires in the hearts of believers over here, so that they can go out into the midst of darkness and provide hope to those that need it. I pray the same for the mission team as we prepare to return America. And I pray the same for everyone reading this blog.