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“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

I have found in this village that there is one thing that never runs out- joy. It is present in the laughter, smiles, and bright eyes of every child; so poignant, that you can’t help waking up each day with a huge grin on your face and a song of love in your heart.

This contagious joy is not only found in the kids but also in every staff member here. Everyone cherishes the simple life and each other, living by the truth that although life and people themselves matter, the One in whom Life is found matters most. It’s like this is woven into the fabric of these Ugandians and this precious Village of Hope.

Each day here is always full of moments of joy, especially with this past week. The 9th was Independence Day, when about 50 years ago, Uganda gained her rights to govern from the British. I love how the people here celebrate holidays- it’s a day of rest. The night before this important day, all the mazungus gathered and had a movie night in the biggest hut in the compound (also known as the Taj Mahut or Uncle Bill’s hut). And guess what we watched? Les Miserables, my absolute favorite musical of all time! It was so wonderful and we snacked on chocolate and some candy corn, brought over from a close friend with Terrie, a visitor here currently. It made my heart so happy to have candy corn. I really love candy corn.

We awoke the next morning to the sweet sound of rain beating against the grass roof of the hut and ate a delicious meal of tea and toast also in the big hut. There was supposed to be a local parade that the kids were going to march in but because of the rain, muddy roads ended up delaying the parade to next Thursday. However, despite the cancellation, all the kids gathered in the church building and had a small devotion/worship time. I adore the joy and love for the Lord in all the kids’ hearts, that even on a holiday the kids start it off with praising our Heavenly Father.

The rest of the day was filled with games, laughter, cooking, and just the sweet time of being in fellowship with each other. It’s amazing how wonderful a true day of rest is where you have no agenda and just chill. We also prepared for the following day, which I have to say is one of my top favorites so far. The next day was Letter Distribution Day.

Now, if you have not gotten the chance to sponsor a child through Village of Hope or any other organization, I encourage you to seriously pray and consider it. The amount of joy on these kids’ faces when they were handed a couple letters of encouragement from sponsors and the realization for that they are so valued and loved was so humbling and amazing to watch. Tears welled up in some of the eyes of these children when they received a picture of their ‘family’ in America or read the sweet words of affirmation. Every child in Bweyale and Bobi got at least one letter too, which is absolutely incredible. If you are reading this and wrote a letter or two to one of these precious kids, thank you so much for making their week with your kind words and pictures. Friday was such a joyous day and all of them ran home with the hugest smile on their faces and the letters held tightly in their hands.

You’d think in America a letter to someone wouldn’t be that big of a deal but to these kids, a letter is so precious and valued. It’s the simple things that bring the most joy here, and it is so humbling to be living in this environment where that and laughter fill every moment. I love the quote at the top of this post, that joy itself is the very evidence that the presence of the Lord fills a place. That statement could not more accurately describe this place and ministry. Village of Hope just radiates the presence of the Lord on the grounds and in the surrounding areas, with some of the children coming from the communities around. It’s transforming Northern Uganda and I’m so excited to be here and witness the Lord moving here in this precious country.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Village of Hope and thank you for bringing me here.