On Thursday June 20, 2013 I wept like a child as a magnificent bus, decorated in bright colors with images of beautiful children and the words Daraja written boldly on both sides pulled out of the Oak Grove Church parking lot. For over the past 3 days I had been blessed to have received a vivid image of what I believe heaven will be like.
Tuesday evening I sat and waited with a great anticipation, excitement and a little fear. My husband, children and I were going to host two children from Uganda, Africa and their chaperone. The previous Wednesday we had gone to the First Baptist Church to see what we thought was a performance of an African Children’s Choir. To our surprise these children lead us in a worship service that brought us to tears and stirred a joy in our hearts that we could have never imagined.
That first night I struggled with anxiety as midnight came and we were walking our new guests into our home. What if I am not a perfect host to them? What if I or my children offend them? What if they receive a negative reflection of America from us? I had in that moment forgotten that God already had a plan for the next few days and that my human thought and instinct had nothing to do with it. We introduced ourselves, said "hello" and in a moment’s time I received the biggest hugs and "thank you Mama". "Goodnight and thank you," they said with their African accents. I went to bed and could not wait for the next day to get to know them and the American intern they were traveling with better.
Over the next few days I learned so much from these children. They have an amazing love for the Lord and are being taught that with God, all things are possible. I believe this is something that, from time to time, is left on the back burner here in America. We teach kids to go to school, get good grades, go to college and then a career and a family. We forget to slow down and remind them that they can do anything, be anything and conquer anything they put their minds too through Christ our Savior.
We asked the intern staying with us many questions about the African culture and their way of life and we also talked about what would be of these children when they returned to Uganda. Through Daraja, these children are being taught to be leaders in their community, core Christian values and self-esteem beyond my wildest dreams. We also learned that these children do not want to stay in America; they simply do not see how we live as a luxury. They miss things like chopping wood in the forest and taking care of their family garden. Our intern explained it best by saying it was like us Americans taking an European vacation. The culture is different, people stare at you, the food is a little funky and no matter how comfortable a bed might be it is just not the same as home.
On their last night in Port St. Joe, the host families of several children and interns got to have an amazing celebration. Dan Van Treese, president of the St. Joseph Bay Golf Club invited us all out to do what we found out was what these African kids enjoyed doing the most in America; swim. So as we all watched with awe, these children laughed and played and giggled until their faces hurt. At one point several of us were sitting alongside of the pool blowing multi-colored bubbles that danced through the air as if the children's laughter was music. At that very minute it hit me, for this was indeed what heaven was going to be like. For on that glorious day that I go to meet my creator, I know I will be joined by children of every nation singing glory to the King of Kings and after, we will all laugh and dance and rejoice in Kingdom of the Lord. For God sees no color, no race and no denominations, just His children he created in His image and I am so thankful and blessed that I was taught and showed this by two young girls from Uganda, Africa. We must remember that although we all have several differences we still love and serve the same great God.
Port St. Joe