Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Orlando Update and Africa
Hopefully all of you are enjoying the start of your week. I am still down here in Orlando, Florida where we are having a great time. Sunday night was filled with dinner at Pei Wei and then a little card game called Nertz. It is a fun game I actually learned to play at Auburn and hadn’t played in a while so it was good to get back into the swing of things. Yesterday, Sam had a lunch meeting so I slept late and then just chilled till he got home. Around 2 P.M. Sam, Kent, Clay, and myself went to play a public course of here in winter park. It was good to get back on the course, haven’t had a chance to play all summer, which was definitely not a good thing. The round went all right, being able to get off of the tee box was my best part of my game all day hitting around probably 85% of the fairways. I couldn’t do much outside of that part of my game. Last night, we played some more nertz at Kent’s house and just chilled the rest of the night. So now that you are caught up with what has been going on here in Orlando, I want to take you back to a trip that I took to Africa at the end of May through the first of June. I pray that God will really speak to you through this.
On May 19, 2008, a group of thirty-four students from Auburn, AL departed to dedicate the next eighteen days of our lives in service to the wonderful people of Uganda. As a team, we spent around nine days in Bethany Village, an orphanage through Africa Renewal Ministries, running a VBS for the children and laying the foundation for a guesthouse. Upon arriving in Bethany, each person on the trip had been assigned to a different house to spend the week with. There were eleven different houses of kids; housing anywhere from twelve to 20 kids, a housemother, and sometimes a housefather. The house that I and two other girls on the trip had been assigned was called the Favor House. It housed twelve children, the housemother, and her daughter. As the week went by I began to wonder, “Lord, how can I leave an impact on the lives of these children in just nine days? What can they learn from our team about how to live for the King?” About halfway through our time at Bethany I came across Matthew 8:1-4:
“When he came down from the mountain great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord if you will, you can make me clean’ And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.’”
The creator of this world came down from heaven and touched the sick and the lame—which was a foolish deed in the eyes of the world—but in the Lord’s eyes this leper was more than a conqueror. As I continued to look into what kind of impact could be left in just a short nine days, I came to the understanding that everyone needs to feel loved by someone. Whether it is just saying “I’m thinking about you today” or actually reaching out to them like our Lord did with this sick man. The world will tell you they feel remorse for the continent of Africa, where thousands of children are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS daily, but words and actual actions to do something about it are two different things. In Bethany, I had the opportunity to hear numerous stories about children orphaned due to parents passing away from AIDS. While at the same time, these same kids told me they were thankful for their lives and what the Lord had given them. I noticed that they might know their earthly parents are gone, but they have an eternal Father who will never leave or forsake them. There are individuals all over this nation of Uganda, and all over the world, going to sleep every night dying for someone to give them this hope of knowing that there is an eternal Father that will never leave them. As the realization of how to live out Matthew 8:1-4 set in halfway through our stay at Bethany Village, my mindset changed completely on how to live life. It can be really easy to love the people who from the outside look like they have everything together, but who would want to love a lonely disease stricken child? At times, I am just as guilty of neglecting the kids that might not be the easiest to get a long with, the sick, or the unsightly. We so often have the mindset that this is someone else’s job, and not our responsibility.
I happened to have the opportunity to go to Africa to learn this simple truth about impacting individual’s lives. As I round the corner to bring this car home, you do not have to go to Africa or India to see needy people. You can see them in your own community. They are people in your neighborhood, class, church, or even at your workplace. I can guarantee that there are countless people in your community longing for you to call them your friend. All it takes is for you to put your trust in the cross while taking a big step out of your comfort zone and allow God to use you to impact His kingdom.