March is usually a slow month for Bridge and that has proven to be the case this March. Our first team is not expected to arrive until mid-April, so apart from feeding the children of Mercy Home, I've spent my time learning the culture and building relationships. It did not take me long to realize the emphasis they put on relationships here. I guess it's because in the grand scheme of things our relationships with other people are all we have and are the driving force of our Christian backbone aside from Christ himself. After all, why else would Jesus say "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39). In Proverbs 27:17 it says "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." I have learned to realize that my life has been blessed with great friends. Some have been lost along the way but I have been lucky for the Lord to put Christ centered people all around me. And that's not limited to just my American friends, the Lord has put some pretty incredible people in my life over here too.
Meet Jon. He is the 26 year old 130 lb security guard that keeps watch over the place I have been staying. This is just his second job. Every night he gets here around 7:00 and stays until 6:00 AM. He then goes home, sleeps till 10:00, then works his primary job during the day. Each evening I spend an hour working out or as they call it "filling it up" with a resistance band and the perfect pushup which I brought from home. I must say I have become a huge advocate for the perfect pushup machine. I am usually mid workout by the time Jon gets here so I have gotten to spend a good bit of time talking to him. One day he asked if I would wait on him to "fill it up" so he could join me and I said PLEASE! It not only would make me feel more comfortable with a security guard with a little muscle to him but would also enable me to build another friendship. Our first "fill it up" session together lasted all of about 10 minutes. He did a solid set of 10 pushups followed by a set curls before he decided that was enough and called it quits. When I asked him why he quit so early he said "its OK, tomorrow I'll do 11!" This is some of the humor that I get to experience on a daily basis. I will have to say though, each night Jon adds one more rep to his previous days accomplishment before he calls it quits.
Now meet Alfred. He is the 29 year old caretaker for the house I have been staying in. Aside from Patrick, he is who I have spent most my time with. He is one of the most Christ centered men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Right now he is learning Arabic because he has been called to the mission field in Afghanistan! I know people were worried about me coming to Uganda, but can you imagine being a Christian missionary in Afghanistan?! He is one of those people that is so kind and giving that you cannot help but become a better person just by spending time with him. He has taught me pretty much everything I have learned so far and spends much of the night giving me lessons on how to speak Luganda. Because this month has been so slow, today Alfred and I decided we wanted to do something fun. He asked me if I wanted to go on a long bike ride with him. I thought this "long bike ride" was going to be similar to the workout sessions I have had with Jon and lets just say I wasn't prepared for the Alps stage of the Tour de Uganda we rode! I'm thankful for friendships like Jon's and Alfred's and know that that is how God intended it to be. Even in Africa I have friends that are able to hold me accountable and lift me up whenever needed. However, it is not these friendships that I wanted to write about.
When I first decided to come to Uganda I thought I was going to be coming by myself. The thought of being alone in a third world country was the thing I was looking forward to most and also the thing I was scared of most. I was most looking forward to the shear reliance upon the Lord and the alone time I would be able to spend in His word letting Him mold me into the man I am called to be. On the flip side of that I was scared of the loneliness that would be sure to creep in somehow. Luckily for me two summers ago I was able to spend two months working in London. Even though I wasn't a follower then, I now look back on that time and see how God used it for what I am doing right now. I remember the loneliness I felt in London and how I wanted nothing more than to leave. Even though I met a great group of friends there, who are still very dear to me, there was still a hole that was left empty and left me wanting nothing more than to catch the next jet to cross the pond. That hole was from a lack of Jesus. Since having committed my life to Christ that empty place is now filled in abundance! "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26).
The faithfulness the Lord has shown me throughout this whole process is nothing short of incredible. Somehow He was able to convince one of my best friends Allen into quitting his job, and joining me on this crazy adventure. Allen was the first person I told of my calling and God spoke to him through the book of Luke. Specifically Luke chapter 10 when Jesus sent out the 72 in pairs. I remember when Allen told me that wherever I was going, no matter where it was, that he was coming too. At first I struggled a bit with the thought of someone else joining me, but after being over here I have really been able to accept the fact that God knows me better than I know me. He knew exactly how I would be feeling in this very moment and that a friend and brother like Allen is just what I would need. He is someone I look up to in my own walk, and I am honored and blessed to be able to serve with a friend like him. I am pleased to say that Allen catches his flight today, and I couldn't be more excited to see him and share in this experience with him. It's easy for the enemy to attack us when we are by ourselves and I have seen this first hand, but Jesus said "For where two or three are gathered in my name there am I among them." (Matthew 18:20). I know God is going to be able to use both of us, maybe in different ways, to glorify His name and be the hands and feet of Christ. Allen gets here at 7:45 AM Friday morning so everyone please pray for safe, stress free travels for him!