Yes, we missed stopping for chicken on a stick! It has become a “welcome to Uganda” tradition when I bring teams. There is a specific place we stop on the side of the road in between Kampala and Jinja. Once it becomes dark, the hustle and bustle of the market goes quiet. It is ok because the welcome phrase of Godfrey, “You look younger!” was better than a dozen chickens on a stick! (Yes, I am still soaking that one in as long as I can!)
Godfrey called the children to let them know we would stop at home first before taking me to the hotel. They were thrilled because usually I go to the hotel first to check in after traveling 24 hours. It was so late they did not expect me there until tomorrow. What they didn’t know was we were traveling with a FULL van!
Approaching the Nile River quickens my heart because I know in just a few short minutes I will be hugging the kids! Even in the dark as we cross the bridge, I can see clearly enough to know that I am finally home!
Once we turned onto our road and got close to the gate, my heart began to overflow with love. It was good to see the security wire around the perimeter wall. When Godfrey “hooted” the horn, I jumped out of the front seat and hid behind the van. They would be looking to the front seat knowing I was coming. I walked in behind the van as he approached the house. I could hear them screaming and laughing and shouting for joy! Then it became quieter, so I peered through the window from the back. I think Henry saw me because he quickly came running shouting my name, “Mama Kisakye!” All of a sudden I had at least 10 kids trying to hug me at the same time!!! Even little Jireh pushed her way through and hugged me with her arms wrapped around my knees! I was totally covered! As we walked into the house, more of the children came running out the door so we could hug and greet one another. I am home!
The storyteller in me desires to bring words to life so you can have a picture of what happened the next hour we were together. Think about how you feel when you see friends or family you have not been with in a long while. Now multiply that thirty two times! This is the excitement that was flowing through the room! After each one came to me with smiles and hugs, we settled into the living room. They always have my “queen” chair ready for me! Godfrey first welcomed me back home with kind words of love. We spent the first part of our time truly being thankful that we were once again reunited.
Godfrey then welcomes me to have a word for the children. Before we unveiled the contents of the van, we wanted to prepare their hearts. Godfrey does an excellent job discipling the children. God has blessed me with a person who has the same vision and operates in the manner I would if I was here. We have continually tried to teach truth and serve Christ with the highest integrity. In a culture that has been taught the only way to success is to take advantage of others by manipulating & deceiving, our children have been learning the lesson of becoming more Christ-like in every part of their lives.
A bigger lesson was at stake. Over the years, I have seen gifts given large or small, corrupt individuals who then want more. Our children have been preparing for a time such as this. They were able to see God’s hand in this provision. Because of the work done in discipleship since Godfrey began managing the home, together with my visit in January they were ready to humbly receive with thankful hearts.
I shared the story of how God worked from the time they wanted to postpone the crusade to when I received the news of the generous gift. Telling them in person was a priceless moment. It humbled all of us. They did not know the exact items purchased. We were waiting until this moment to stand overwhelmed at how God provided over and above. One by one, Godfrey and some of the older boys brought in the equipment. With each item brought in the house, the children lifted up their voices in praise! They were in awe to see how God had provided COMPLETELY!
We took a few moments before we brought in one of the last items. The keyboard was moved to phase 2. However, the donor knew how important that piece of equipment would be. The over and above gift was to help cover the cost of buying it for the crusade. Henry is the one who plays the keyboard on a regular basis. He told me later that when he was watching various boxes come in, he had hoped one would have the words written on it, “keyboard.” Box after box came in and not one was a keyboard. Henry was still thrilled with all the other items. He thought, “It will come when it is time.” Then he saw the box labeled “Yamaha.” Could it be? Could it be? He told me he just couldn’t believe it when he saw the words, “KEYBOARD!” He began jumping up and down and giving praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. They have been so thankful for the other one I brought with the team in 2013. But kindly he said, “That was has been more like a toy!” When I looked at the new one…he was right! There is no comparison at all! What else would we expect for a keyboard I bought at a garage sale for $20! It served its purpose and now is a backup!
Just when the kids thought we were finished, I told them there was one more gift. We had all developed the new sponsorship program together in January. They knew that I had asked all of the sponsors to give a monetary donation to buy the same gift for all. I think they thought we would buy more clothes for each one. I explained that I checked with Uncle Godfrey about buying this one gift for all…and it was a big! I had them close their eyes as Godfrey & Henry went to the van for one last box. As they entered the house, the children open their eyes…and I am sure you could only imagine the praise that erupted!! Didn’t you hear it? They were ecstatic with joy jumping up and down and shouting praises to the Lord. This gift was from all of you who personally sponsor our children on a monthly basis & others who designated funds. They send their deepest of thanks for the way you love them and care for them.
We closed out that time by giving our thanks back to the Lord. We dedicated the new “machines” for ministry not only for the crusade but for all future efforts to reach people for the gospel! Godfrey and I each gave a word and I closed with a song called, “Stolen” (oh wait, not the most appropriate song after just buying all of this!). Ha! It is a new song by Jason Gray. It was a reminder of the path we walked to get here. Over the past 10 years we have had many ups and downs. We have remained faithful standing on the promises of God. Part of the words to the song went straight to our hearts:
“If my life never would have been broken, then my hands never would have been open.
And my heart never would have been stolen.
But your love came to me at my lowest, and I’ve been singing ever since that moment
Hallelujah, my heart’s been stolen.”
We finished in a time of praising God, praying as a family, lifting up our voices to our God. The sound of the Raining Hope family joined together like this is one of the sweetest and most precious sounds I know of. Remaining speechless, mama eydie kisakye