I had the privilege to catch a glimpse of the future of Uganda recently. What I saw confirms to me that there is hope for countries such as these. Uganda was ripped apart by civil war and human rights atrocities. It also has struggled greatly with the HIV epidemic, and as a result, it is estimated that there are approximately 2.3 million orphans living in Uganda.
Contrast this with the life of my family. Two years ago, we became expatriates, Americans living in Norway, and suddenly we could fly wherever we wanted and live a lifestyle that could afford many luxuries. After fighting hard for many years to teach my children about living God’s way despite the influence of the culture, I feared I might be losing them to our new lifestyle. It was time for some perspective.
James writes, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 2:7). There’s no better way to inoculate yourself from the intoxicating powers of this world, than to care and love for orphans. We decided to put all of our world traveling to good use, and fly to Uganda to visit the children at Kirabo Seeds, a children’s home that my friend, Tonya LaTorre founded.
We arrived in Uganda two days before Christmas with eagerness, hopeful attitudes, love to share, and a tiny bit of anxiety. When we walked in the gates of their home, we were greeted with great smiles, hugs, and the spirit of excitement that Christmas was coming. Over the next few days we played games, sang songs, baked cookies, studied God’s word and read many, many books. On Christmas Eve we slaughtered the goat, and on Christmas Day the children took us to their church and worshipped Jesus. Our two completely different worlds collided as we meshed and integrated into their family. The greatest Christmas gift we received is what we saw when we looked into their beautiful faces.
When I look into their big smiles, I see Uganda’s future generation. I see children who are extremely responsible, obedient to their aunties and uncles, and caring towards their sisters and brothers. I see children who are grateful for what God has blessed them with. Most of us from other parts of the world might consider them poor, but they are rich in so many things. I see children who are eager to learn, who sit patiently for lessons and devotions. I see children who are reading their Bibles every day and taking notes during devotions so they can remember it later. I see children who sing praises and dance before The Lord. I see respect for elders and love towards their caregivers. I see healing from past abuse or neglect. Beauty is coming from ashes and hope is bubbling up from turmoil. I see smiles and laughter, jokesters and pranksters. I see singing and dancing. I see love for new brothers and sisters as they care for one another, forgive each other and live together in peace. Perhaps most importantly, I see Uganda’s future leaders- their politicians, their teachers, their justice advocators, and their preachers. Most of all, I see loving Fathers and Mothers who will care for their families and end generational cycles of sin.
My family learned so much from these children who were once lost, but have been found. I am grateful that Kirabo Seeds allowed us to come and be part of their family. We left so much richer than how we came. We have recognized within our family some good characteristics (such as watching my children embrace this family) and some flaws (Lets just say I asked Auntie Julie to put us to work). I am thankful for the work that Tonya has begun here. I know that the world will be a better place with these children as its future leaders, but most importantly, I know that the Kingdom of God will be forever changed with these children as His ambassadors.