To love at all is to be vulnerable.
— C. S. Lewis
My first week in Uganda has been one that I will never forget. I've gotten to have some great experiences, to meet some incredible people, and to witness a new culture, all of which will be forever ingrained in my heart. Throughout these experiences, I have found five things that stick out in regards to the Pearl of Africa.
The beauty found in this place is such an incredible reflection of God's intentionality. During my first week, I spent a lot of time traveling across different parts of the country. Most places look like they're straight out of National Geographic. And when I look back on the pictures that I have taken, they pale in comparison to the actual scenery. The Nile River is massive, and the view from Lake Victoria will take your breath away. There are monkeys, hippos, elephants and giraffes that roam around Murchison Falls National Park. The sunset is beautiful every night. The buildings are colorful and full of life and vibrant people. It's something pictures and my words can't do justice. It's something I hope I never forget.
Getting a close up view of these rhinos was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
I've learned so much from Ugandans about hospitality. Every time I arrive at a new place, someone greets me with the phrase, "You are most welcome here." And the awesome part is they really mean it. I definitely feel like I am most welcomed and wanted in Uganda. The Ugandan people are so excited to learn about me and quick to check to see how I'm doing. They smile, laugh, joke, and care for people in a way that brings joy to everyone around them. I feel blessed to count these people as my lifelong friends and the people who will be my family for the next eight weeks.
Immense passion is found in many of the people here. While Uganda and its people are beautiful, there are many things in this country that are not so pretty. Corruption, poverty and lack of infrastructure bring about many challenges the Ugandan people face daily. However, most residents of this country often speak of hope and potential change that can come to this place. Also, these are many people here from other parts of the world who desire to help bring positive change to Uganda.
The rice crop at Omer Farms. The sky in Uganda is so big!
With this passion has come a great amount of positive results. It's clear that the Lord has his hand in many different organizations here, and He has fully equipped his people to shine light into the dark places of Uganda. I got to witness many of the impactful things happening here this week. Omer Farms in northwestern Uganda is working with the surrounding village to provide jobs and to implement sustainable community care and development. During a board meeting, people spoke with passion about the untapped potential Uganda has to be a powerful force in African agriculture. At Telek Junior School, James, the founder, spoke with passion about providing Bible-based education to students who normally would not receive an education. And at the Amazima School, God is using families, including the Caseys, to disciple and encourage secondary level students. It was inspiring and emotional to see God's provision and compassion for Uganda.
This student at Telek Junior School was excited to receive a new jump rope.
There's something about this place that will leave you wanting more. And when you come back for more, slowly but surely, this becomes a place that you love. Each day, Uganda is starting to feel more like home. I really do love it here. But at the same time, that's terrifying. Love is risky. It requires a submission and vulnerability that sometimes results in heartache. I'm fearful that leaving this place will be more difficult than I can currently fathom. And part of loving Uganda means staring into the face of the things that break my heart. Because if I truly love Uganda, then I want to leave it better than it was when I got here. Each day I pray that God puts me in situations where his love, mercy and grace can shine. Afoyo matek, thank you Uganda for welcoming me with open arms and a willing heart.
View of Lake Victoria and Kampala, Uganda.
Sarah Weiss is a 2017 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Weiss is from Brenham, Texas, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University. She focuses on education, extension and outreach.