Uganda - June 18

On our 3rd full day in Uganda, we visited a home for children with mental and physical disabilities. In most African countries, children like these are seen as a burden, unwanted, and often thought to be a curse on the family. But here, I met so many joyful souls. I saw so many carefree smiles, children dancing because they were excited to have us there just to spend time with them and love on them. The ones who could walk were pushing the wheelchairs of the ones who couldn't. I was blown away at how happy they were to care for one another.

Three sisters stole my heart that day. Their names were Samal, Amali, and Misilah, and they were 10, 8, and 5 years old. They had no arms - some sort of birth defect probably caused by drugs that the mother took during pregnancy. I talked to Amali the most - she spoke English wonderfully and had the cutest accent. And all 3 of their smiles were the most radiant I have ever seen. Oh my goodness. I just talked and played with them for pretty much the whole time we were there. Amali couldn't walk, so she had a wheelchair, and at one point her sister walked over and just sat on top of her in the chair because she got tired of standing. They were so tiny. I'll never forget seeing her bend completely over so that her tiny fingers (that came directly out of her arm socket) could reach the seat as she seemed to be searching for something. I asked her what she was looking for, and in her little voice, she said "my sweet!" which meant the lollipop I had given her. My heart melted. (One of about 15 times that day.) Then hearing their squeals of laughter while we blew bubbles in their face and they all but flung their bodies to try to reach them. So I picked up Amali and helped her chase the bubbles. Before I put her down, I touched her forehead to mine and told her that Jesus loves her, praying silently that she would know this truth in her heart as she grows up.

I also talked to a girl named Phiona, who was 21. It seemed to brighten her face to find out that I am just 22. She asked me, "Are there children like this in your country?" <3 <3 Yes, Phiona. Just like this. Except they don't have 150 of their closest friends to play with each day.

I've spent some time with disabled kids before, and they've always held a special place in my heart. But something that I can't quite put my finger on was different about these children. Maybe it was the way they helped each other, maybe it was the fearlessness and gleefulness with which they flung themselves into our arms. I feel like this is how Jesus wants us to approach him. Joyfully stumbling toward Him as fast as our sometimes crippled legs will take us.

They also found it hilarious that their tongues were blue from the lollipops :)

God is teaching me so much about myself, about His love for me, and His heart for the world. Of course, His heart breaks for it. He sees the pain and abandonment in these kids' pasts, and He grieves for them and with them. But love conquers all and endures all things. He is able to restore what is lost, and heal what is broken. Where we fall short, His grace abounds all the more. And our pain never becomes too much for Him. And I know that the joy that I saw in these children's eyes was a little bit of Jesus shining through.

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