Unmistakable smiles. Unconditional love. Unwavering strength. Unselfish servant hood. Unbreakable relationships. Unending fellowship with each other and with Jesus Himself. Unified hearts, spirits and lives. That is Mawanga.
I can’t seem to find the words to adequately describe my experience in Mawanga but I will try. My vision of the village and what I imagined it would be, didn’t quite meet up to what I experienced. I was stretched, challenged, humbled, strengthened, loved on, embraced, shown grace, mercy, and so much more that I could ever imagined.
From the first steps on the beautiful dirt, to the tears I left behind, I know one thing is for sure…God is moving among the people there. For me to catch a glimpse of His work was such a privilege and honor.
I have so many stories from the village. Journey with me to the remote village in eastern Uganda….We would be welcomed by friendly animals such as the cows, goats, chickens, lizards, the loud birds, and the lovely rats that paid a nightly visit as I dosed off the sleep..but that’s just the beginning. Then we would meet the individuals that make up the Mawanga community- and listen to the testimonies of the hundreds of lives ROWAN is impacting; which include a group of about 30-50 of the most beautiful and strong widows I have every met. Not to mention, 100 plus orphans who are being ministered to throughout the week, and the amazing local ROWAN staff who give their time sacrificially every day. They serve, love, and empower the people of Mawanga with the ability and vision that God gives to them. We would go together on a motorcycle within the 30 villages that ROWAN reaches to sit and encourage people living with HIV in their homes, we would prepare the garden for planting dozens of passion fruit trees, we would visit the adult literacy class that serves 80 community members weekly, and learn patience from the widows that make bead necklaces out of paper! After this long day, we would barely even notice the rats as we fall fast asleep under our mosquito nets!
One of my most memorable experiences was meeting all the secondary students (high school) and hearing about their dreams and goals! In addition, I got to teach songs to the young children, and walk around the land that we believe the Lord will give us one day for a school. But even with all of these incredible memories and, I had found something even greater. I realized that the more time I spent in Mawanga, the more I got to SEE Jesus.
From the preparation state I was encouraged to go with an openness of the heart, soul, and mind. I was challenged to OPEN my eyes and SEE. So many times we can go watch and look from afar, but when you are aware and you stop to SEE what is right in front of you, it changes everything. Each time I went to Mawanga, I wanted to see what Jesus wanted me to see. I prayed that He would show me who to see with spiritual eyes, who needs to be loved, touched, and given value and hope. I desired to see beyond what I could physically see. I can’t tell you how that changed me. I saw Jesus do so many things…I saw how He is bringing tangible HOPE to people. I saw how He reaches down and carries the weary. I saw how He supports and provides for the widows. I saw how He is restoring relationships, bringing community and fellowship into a place that has been so desperate for it. I saw how He has brought smiles of joy back on the faces of so many who have felt helpless in the past. I realized that when I was willing to go where He called me, He welcomed me into a family that loves radically and unconditionally. I saw how Jesus is healing, making all things new, and drawing each person to Himself. I saw how alive Jesus is and dwelling there in Mawanga. I saw how much more Jesus’ love is for me.
I cannot think of a more beautiful place to have spent my time. There is life, freedom, and HOPE rising! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have come alongside ROWAN and everyone involved! I am looking forward to many more moments in the village as I plan to go back in April. Time to head back to my second home. Wanna come visit?