I spent the last hour or so of daylight closing out my journal from the previous years and opening up my new one. (Yep, I’m a little behind with all the hustle and bustle of the end of the year and returning to Uganda.)
Officially closing out a season past, embracing the new one to come. My mentors say they sense freedom, refreshment, expansion, and new paths coming my way. As I embrace and jump into another new year and adventure with Jesus, my mind goes back to the ways God faithfully was with me in previous seasons. Many not shared on my blog—at least not yet. But there is one I feel led to share.
Some people ask: “how do you do it?” Are you crazy? You do that alone? Etc...
Honestly, there are times I feel extremely alone, and I repeat the verse over and over to myself “I am not alone the Father is with me..”
Yet, there are also many times when I need some tangible evidence that I’m not alone. God knows when those times are—and He continually in His time knows exactly when!
Looking back over the last years in Bundibugyo, I can see some specific moments when God did that for me. Some that come to mind are:
certain notes arriving from home
messages and prayers of family & friends
a random Facebook missionary friend I made in country... (I could see the articles and things she was posting and I just knew we would be friends! :)
a medical intern that was like my kid-bro and brought fun to my isolated missionary life
a random car ride shared with a new friend who shared my love for the East African people and coffee, and the times of fun that followed
an amazing roommate/intern for a season who shared my house, life, and shared my love for the village kids.
sweet friendships I didn’t expect with Ugandans
a Canadian intern who jumped in and helped with our bible clubs
a family on my Bundi team who “adopted” me
a new intern who quickly became a best bud and shared my love for evangelism and children and youth
more recently my dear friends in country who bought me valentines dinner
… Each of you know who you are and that by no means is a comprehensive list! :)
But tonight, my mind goes back to one of the first instances where Jesus reminded me in a very tangible way that I wasn’t alone:
The first months of my time in Bundibugyo were hard. I was waiting for my own home for 10 months, awkwardly stuck in with an already established group of young women. Each of them had struggled with mental health and all of them would leave the field in the next year to year and a half. Rats crawled up and down my wall at night. The power was out more than it was on. Miserable bugs always seemed to fill the house. The other girls were tight with one another, each helping the other survive their own worlds. Their hands already full, not much space for anything or anyone else. They were burned out and one short-fused. Needless to say, it was a tough go. The culture of Bundibugyo was more Congolese than Ugandan, much different than the rest of Uganda I knew.
My heart and soul were weary. One particular day I was walking through the village on my way to work. I saw a neat and tidy vegetable stand I’d never seen before. I wandered in to buy a few advocadoes … I greeted the lady in the traditional way and proceeded to buy my veggies. But she was completely different—friendly, outgoing, warm and so lovely. My heart was warmed with her interaction. Oh how I needed that!
She went on to ask my name. I told her, my name is Laura, but because it’s hard for Ugandans to say my name, friends in my old village gave me the name Naziwah. She said: “yes, I know that name. It means fresh/refreshing water, you’ve been washed with the blood of Jesus.” I grinned. How did she know?? This tribe spoke a different language.
In that moment I needed to be reminded I was a daughter of Jesus. We finished up the conversation. I ran off quickly to work as I was now running late. My heart full of joy. Refreshed by my new friend. I determined to go back and buy my vegetables from her—always!
However, for weeks I looked for that same vegetable stand on that spot on the road, eager to spend time with my new friend—the one that “knew my name.” But, I never found her. Nor did I ever see that particular stand again any other day. I’m still looking for it...
I think God placed it there just for that day. Just for a weary heart to be reminded they were not alone.
So, sometimes it’s in the form of a child saying “Madam Laura, I am so happy to see you today!”
Sometimes in the words of a friend
Sometimes in a car ride
Sometimes it’s in your emails and prayers
Sometimes it’s a valentines dinner with my favourite in country family
Sometimes its God pulling through at the very last minute—helping me navigate the corruption that permeates life and work here…
But again and again Jesus reminds me: I’m not alone... the Father is with me.”