Storybook Experiences

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ – Proverbs 3:5-6

I live for a God whose goodness is beyond words.

His beautiful and perfect gifts are so much greater than I could ever deserve. Having now spent a full week here in Uganda, there are many things that have been difficult, but so many things I love. I know this is where God has called me to be for this time, and I remind myself of that whenever I’m struggling to adjust to life here. I’m so grateful to be in this place.

Today was a very special day, the climax of part of a story God has been writing in my life since mid 2012, when I first picked up a book at a Steubenville Youth Conference in Ohio that would later transform my life. Though I’m sticky from the heat, covered in red Ugandan dust, and very much looking forward to a shower and sleep, it has been one of the greatest days of my life so far and I would love to share it with you.

To share a bit more context…
In 2012, shortly after returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic (which completely shook apart my life in the best and hardest way), I found myself at a Catholic youth conference in Steubenville, Ohio. While browsing through the campus bookstore, I stumbled upon a book called Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, a 19-year-old girl who moved to Uganda, adopted 13 little girls, and started a ministry called Amazima to serve the poorest of the poor. It wouldn’t be until the following spring when I finally got the chance to read it, but once finished, Katie’s story would stick with me for months and years afterwards. It awakened a part of my heart I’m not sure I knew existed and lit me on fire again for Christ. God was calling me to missions through Katie’s story, specifically to Africa. I didn’t yet know which country, but I honestly didn’t think it would be Uganda.

By that time, Amazima Ministries had gained a special place in my heart. I followed Katie and her ministry closely over the next few years. She has become such an incredible role model for me. Her heart for Christ and the poor, as well as her humility and gentleness are things I am constantly striving to attain.

In 2014, when I first found out Amazima was planning to build a secondary school, I was very excited. As someone who firmly believes that education is one of our greatest weapons against the suffering of the world, I thought this school seemed like the perfect next step for their ministry. I enjoyed following the development of the project, as they revealed the schematic design, began looking for staff, and announced the new Head of School. At that point, I hadn’t payed any attention to who was actually working with Amazima to design this school, so when I was accepted for an internship with Engineering Ministries International (eMi) in Uganda beginning in January 2016, I had no idea these two ministries had already established a relationship.

I was delighted to discover, shortly before leaving for my internship, that eMi was actually designing the Amazima School. What I never dreamed (OK, maybe I dreamed of it, but that’s all it ever was, a dream) was that I would be placed on the design team for Phase 2 of this project, visit the site and see the current state of construction in person, get to be part of a long and fascinating design meeting and discussion about the school, and meet a whole bunch of the Amazima staff. Today was truly an incredible day.

The thing is, I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. After our site visit, where we checked out the Phase 1 buildings currently under construction and walked around the very large site on a hill outside of Jinja, our team headed to downtown Jinja for lunch with the school director, principal, and several other Amazima staff. There had been rumors that Katie might be around at some point today, but I was refusing to get my hopes up. However, as I walked up to the table at the restaurant behind Jeff, there she was, Katie Davis, sitting right there chatting with several people waiting for us to join them. It was somewhat surreal seeing her there right in front of me. She wasn’t able to stay for very long, since she was heading to another meeting, but it was such a pleasure to be able to meet her when I truly never thought I would, and be able to thank her for the work she has done/is doing and the powerful way God has used her to speak to me and countless others. In person, she is every bit as lovely as one would think from her writing. Today was one of those great surprise gifts from God. What a blessing.

The rest of the Amazima team was fantastic as well. I loved having the opportunity to hear their vision for this school first-hand, not just in terms of architectural ideas, but also curriculum and how they plan to foster and disciple these children in a family environment centered around Christ and His loving example. This school is truly going to be one of a kind when it’s finished, and I feel so blessed to be able to work with such a fantastic team and have a part in its creation.

If you would like to learn anything else about the Amazima School, please check out the link below…

Or more about Amazima Ministries. They are truly an wonderful organization, changing the lives of children and adults in desperate need…

I’ll be posting again very soon with more thoughts on Uganda, my first week of experiences, my fellow interns, and what daily life looks like here. Many blessings!

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