Hannah is a college student at Cornell University. She just returned from her first visit to Mawanga and here are some of her reflections.
Mawanga welcomed us with open arms, literally.
Women and children created a sea around us as we got out of our car of hugs and trills of joy, touching us and feeling us without any reservations or hesitations. There was no waiting to see if they would love us, no proving our worth. They jumped straight in to unconditionally loving us.
As much as the villagers showed us immediate friendship, Pastor Paul and the ROWAN staff showed us the meaning of loving people through long term relationship. Much of our time spent in Mwanga was filled with home visits. Home visits are the backbone of ROWAN. Going to members, checking up on their well being, spending time with them, praying with them and showing they’re loved is the foundation of ROWAN as an organization that is built on relationship and long term loving of people.
Liz and I led the devotion time for the kid’s Saturday program. We told them the story of Jesus walking on water and saving Peter when he began to sinking because he lost faith. We each shared a story from our life of a time when we stepped out in faith when God called us to but got scared and let our eyes wander from focus on Jesus. We acted out the story using a sheet as water and had many of the kids participate in the skit, they love acting and stories and lots of participation!
After their devotion they go through a roter of activities. They cycled through career counseling with Eddy; football (soccer) with Ben; boondoggle with Liz, Aubrey and I; and letter writing to sponsors with Sam.
So many of the kids clothes are ripped or ill-fit to the point of almost falling off of them. One little guy, James, had pants that were in pretty rough shape. Lauren and I took him into the office and I got one of the old foot pedal sewing machines working and fixed them up for him. He was such a cutie and pretty shy even for a 4 year old.
After dinner we all sat around and talked about the day or ROWAN or members or anything. This night Pastor Paul, Aubrey, Sam and I vision casted for the land ROWAN just bought and dreamed of how we could use it, especially a secondary school that is on Pastor Paul’s heart.
Not only did Mawanga help me to understand Ugandan culture and the people, it helped me understand American culture as well. While there were so many wonderful things about Mawanga that I wish were part of American culture I now recognize that there are things that Ugandan culture could learn from American culture as well. They each have their own personas which have their own strengths and weaknesses, just like individual people and we need each other to help each other grow. We have so many tangible blessings in the form of things and infrastructures and efficiency in everyday life that Uganda does not have. However, the people of Mawanga have intangible blessings that we do not have. They have contentedness, community, gratitude, joy and now, thanks to ROWAN, hope. These are things that so many of us including myself lack on a day-to-day basis. How many times I pass up having a meal with a friend because I’m “too busy” or because it’s not convenient. There’s a blessing in having nothing in life convenient, you work to do the things that are important rather than doing the things that are convenient out of default.
I am so blessed to have had this opportunity! Thanks to every one of you that prayed for me and gave to my trip! I will be continuing work with ROWAN as they work with an architect to plan how to use their 8 acres and turn it into the ROWAN campus. I will be helping them with strategies, brainstorming and the design work for that. I hope to return soon to Mawanga and retain the relationships that God has ordained there.
Sponsor a mother or child
ROWAN is getting very close to sponsoring the rest of their regular members! Once they do, they can begin sponsoring the next tier of 150 HIV+ in their communities!
Please help us! It is $38/month to sponsor a widow or orphan. Click the link to look at the widows and orphans that are up for sponsorship right now and learn about them and what your support will help them do! ROWAN is unique in sponsorship of members past high school. Other organizations only sponsor students to finish high school and often times life is still difficult for them and they need help to continue their education. ROWAN sponsors orphans all the way through higher degrees. One of our volunteers named Eddy is a ROWAN kid and soon finishing his law degree!