Jesus Changes Hearts

Since I was a child, I have wanted to travel and help people. I’ve longed for adventure and finding purpose. While I do believe God has a unique plan for everyone, my mom has never wanted to travel. I used to be so confused, asking her “there are so many wonderful places in the world, how can you not want to see them??” My mom would reply saying she would just like to see all the beautiful places in the US and that would be good enough for her. As a young dreamer, I couldn’t fathom that mindset. However, I have a memory of being a child and my mother once telling me that when she was a child, she wanted to be a flight attendant. Now, I’ve been learning a lot about dreaming here at the Field of Dreams and I’ve been learning that sometimes Jesus gives us new dreams, and sometimes he brings back ones set in our hearts long ago.

This particular story began on February 14, a Saturday. Saturdays here at Show Mercy are Say No to Hunger days. We play games, do praise and worship, share testimonies, teach a bible lesson and share a meal with village children in the sponsorship program. Show Mercy has four of these programs in the villages of Kaliti, Kitooke, Bakka and Nkoowe. I’ve visited Kitooke, where a boy named Hudson lives, who is now being sponsored by my mother. But most Saturdays I visit Nkoowe because the boy I sponsor, Dennis, attends that program.

At that time we were blessed to have Show Mercy co-founder, Lori Salley, in Uganda and she came and attended Nkoowe Say No to Hunger that day. We had a fun morning teaching about the story of the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. As we’re driving home, Lori randomly turns to me and asks, “Is your mom the one that’s coming here?” “Uhhhhh no?!?” I said. I explained how my mom hates to travel, and she has no desire to leave the country. Lori went on to say that she’s pretty sure it was my mom that had been emailing her husband, Mike, about coming to Uganda to visit her new sponsor child. I remember thinking, “there is just no way that’s my mom, it has to be someone else.” Lori confirmed her name and Bethany piped in that she had seen the emails too.

My brain began to wonder if this could even be possible. I hadn’t spoken to my mom about it yet but I kept thinking, if all this was true and my mom was truly coming to Uganda, then Jesus was really stirring up her heart. My mom would never have this desire on her own, it had to be Jesus changing her.

I had gotten into the habit of calling my house on Sunday afternoons and talking to my parents while they’re getting ready for church Sunday morning. I didn’t know how to bring up the topic to my mom so I did what I always do and just sort of dove right in. “Sooo I heard something about you…” I started. After her talking and me squealing, my mom admitted that she was considering coming to see me and Hudson in Uganda.

For days I ran around telling my Ugandan friends that I think my mom is coming to Show Mercy. I tried not to get too excited (which is one of the hardest things in the world for me). I couldn’t stop thinking what an incredible blessing that would be for her to come here and see what I’m doing. After all the opposition I faced in my preparation, to have someone in my family come and really understand why I’m here, I couldn’t imagine anything better.

The following Wednesday I called her again. I was spending a lot of my Airtime cell phone minutes but I thought, if I really wanted my mom to come, I was going to have to pester her. But to my surprise, Jesus is, once again, better than I could have ever imagined. He knows the plans her has for her and without my help, was setting things into motion.

Wednesday I called my mom at work and she answered the phone saying, “Oh good, I wanted to talk to you before I booked this flight.” I instantly screamed and one of the security guards, Martin 2, ran to see if I was dying. I continued to squeal as my mom informed me that she had secretly gotten a passport when I got mine back in November, she had already made an appointment to get her shots, she had talked to Show Mercy about how much it would cost to stay at Field of Dreams and she was in the process of booking her plane ticket to be here in April and return home with me on April 19 (Her flight will be much cheaper than mine, by the way).

Just think, Jesus was setting this plan into motion long before my mom or I even knew it. At this point, I’m simply marveling at what is happening. Jesus is, and has been for some time, laying this path for my mom to come to Uganda and experience what God has in store for her. She thinks she’s coming to see me, but in reality, she’s coming to be changed forever, and she doesn’t even know it yet. My mom will learn so much while here serving with Show Mercy and I’m just so excited to see it happen and be a part of it.

Because God is so creative, He had to sweeten the deal a little bit more. On February 9, Monday evening, a bunch of us ladies sat down and wrote a dreams list. I sort of equated it to a bucket list. It’s a list of all the desires in your heart, things you want to do, accomplish, have, see, whatever, in your life. We were told to dream big and write down every dream we could think of, no matter how silly it sounded. Don’t filter your thoughts, just let them flow and let the Holy Spirit tell you the desires of your heart that maybe you didn’t even know were there. The goal was to get to 100 dreams. By the end of that night I had about 80. I kid you not, that night, five days before I was to hear about my mom’s plans, I wrote down two separate dreams: To be in a foreign country with my mom, and to be at Show Mercy with my mom. When I wrote these down I remember thinking maybe it would happen years from now. Never did I fathom that they would both happen within two months of now. I’m learning each day, here, that God’s plan are so much better than mine. His plans far surpass anything I could imagine on my own.

In his Mind of a Saint series, Graham Cook says, “If it doesn’t sound too good to be true, it isn’t God.” That statement perfectly wraps up what I am experiencing about the goodness of our creator. I am delighting in finding all of these gifts God has hidden for me along my journey.

Now, I’ve had some hard times here at Show Mercy. God wants me to see that Field of Dreams isn’t some fantasy place that he created just for me. I’m still in the real world. I see poverty every day outside the compound and we also face challenges within the compound as well. BUT, here, I have spent more time than ever in my life marveling at the goodness of God. Sometimes I feel silly. I just want to apologize to God saying, “Jesus, I’m so sorry that you had to bring me all the way to Uganda for me to finally get it.” God is so remarkably good. Sometimes I feel like God is so good that I can’t even handle it. For a long time I’ve been wanting more and more of God but now for the first time I really feel God pursuing me. I feel restored by His presence. I know it’s hard to tell because I jump around a lot, but here, I am jumping because I literally can’t handle how amazing God is. He cares deeply for us. Everything He does is to help us become new.

Jesus changes hearts. I see it most every week in the Ugandan prisoners that choose to accept Christ and change their lifestyle. I see it in the women in the market that are married to Muslim men but harbor love for Jesus inside them. I see it in my mom that vowed never to leave the country, who cried and yelled when I told her I was coming to Uganda, and is now preparing to travel, by herself, across the Atlantic to Africa as well. Jesus changes hearts.

So Ma, though it will be at the very end of my time here in Uganda, I can’t wait for you to get here. You have one daughter, two other interns, 27 Ugandan staff members and countless villagers eagerly awaiting your arrival. I can’t wait to find out what God continues to do in your heart once you land in Entebbe, and I can’t wait to see it all happen.

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