My name is Arielle and I am preparing to embark on a journey I've long awaited. In a week I will be returning to a land full of conflicting scenes and emotions. A land far away from Lakeland, Florida. A country full of old friends and new friendships yet to be made. To the one place I've felt most fulfilled in my life. This place was once named the "Pearl of Africa" and no longer shines brightly; but I believe it will shine again with vengence someday soon. Not by anything of my doing, but from someone much bigger than I. And I have been invited to take a front row seat!
I first traveled to Uganda in the fall of 2009, four months after graduating high school at the naive age of 18. I volunteered at Amani Baby Cottage in a town called Jinja. (Amani's website: http://amanibabycottage.org/ if you are looking for a trust worthy and safe place to volunteer and love on babies, THIS IS THE PLACE!) This experience opened my eyes wider than I thought was possible. After traveling on missions work out of the country numerous times before, I really didn't think much of a three month stay in Africa. Well let's just say I learned bunches! I am sure most of those stories will be told here in time. I made some of my best friends on that adventure, learned how to 'do life' in a hard place, and let love pour out on so many sweet babies and children of God. But perhaps the most important lesson I learned was quite elementary, at least for those that have grown up in church; craving to read my bible everyday. This is not something that is learned. Or maybe it is...the hard way. This is an innermost desire that wells up from within us. I hope that everybody that roams this earth will feel this feeling one day. When I said that Uganda was the place I felt most fulfilled in my life, I believe it was more than the life-altering experiences I had. I was filled by someone much bigger and grander than I. I believe that I was being 'transformed by the renewal of my mind' (see romans 12:2). And THAT has the power to fulfill someone!
This trip will be much different than my last. I will be living among a group of people in Bulabakulu village. I will be teaching in a local school come mid-February. But more than all this, I will love unconditionally. Be a living definition of a tangible love. Afterall, how can someone comprehend a 'Fatherly love' if they themselves have never experienced love? There are 120+ children and 7 surviving mothers from this people group. All the rest have died or sought-out another life. These people need to be transformed my the renewal of their minds! And only through the Father's work, will this desolate country again shine as the "Pearl of Africa".
thanks for reading,