Every Thursday I take the kids into Kampala for tennis lessons. It takes about 45 min to get to Makindye Country Club from our home in Akright Estates, and is a great investment of a whopping $11 for all three kiddos to have a lesson from a Ugandan instructor who has represented Uganda five times in the Davis Cup! Not only is he a great player, but a wonderful teacher as well.
We discovered this gem from another EMI family whom we have become really good friends with. They have three children, two of which have been taking weekly lessons for several years now. So, since they live in our same neighborhood, we usually carpool and make it a great day of escape from the usual home school routine. Its our weekly scheduled PE class, not to mention a wonderful retreat in a blissful garden complete with swimming pool, playground, trampoline and large football pitch. The kids love running around while I take an African Tea with my girlfriend(s)...that is another EMI mom usually stops by to fellowship and pray since she lives just down the road from the club. Her older kiddos are in a school nearby, but she always brings her youngest son with her. He also loves running around with the boys, while making pit-stops by our table for his usual ketchup with a side of chips.
The ladies' tea talk usually begins with the two other mothers discussing their week's parental struggles and victories with their adopted boys. One friend has adopted two boys, one Ugandan and one Rwandan, ages 5 & 7, and the other has adopted one Ugandan boy, age 5. I never mind the conversation, being the third wheel with only three biological children, as its absolutely fascinating conversation that brings total glory to God. They share, consult, ask, pray, encourage and sometimes just vent. I'm sure if we weren't sitting in a country club they would sometimes actually scream at the top of their lungs. Their stories are hard, really hard. Most days they just flat out don't know what to do. Yet every week their calling by God over these children and over their families is totally realized. They are in complete obedience and wholly covered by His Grace. They feel His presence and speak of it always. The strength and endurance by each of these sweet sisters is ever so powerful and thus reminds me of the Lord's character and His fruit, by which is often demonstrated through our pain, suffering and struggle. If we are not weak, He cannot reveal His strength through us. If we are not helpless, then He cannot send His Helper. If we are not fools, then He cannot provide His wisdom.
This particular week, Allison sat nearby overhearing all of our conversation. Somehow the Lord has already put adoption on her heart. She glows when she talks about adopting a child. She begins to giggle and her posture grows taller. I have no idea what her life holds, but the Lord is planting seeds of a wild adventure full of His Glory! So, as we got back in the car to leave, Allison was full of questions and I was at a loss for answers. She immediately suggested that I speak up in the conversations with my girlfriends and share all that I know. She reminded me of my degree in Human Development and Family Studies, then a Masters in Educational Psychology, and finally my experience as a foster child case manager. Allison was completely confident that I had all the answers to their parenting questions. She was sure I could handle their children and bring them all back to harmony. Ha. I love her belief in her own mom, but wow. Oh wow! I sat for a moment and thought....no, not really, not one class, one textbook, one professor, nor one experience with foster children could or would ever help. Nothing I had ever been taught or read about would help. Not one iota of personal gain or life story would answer the questions my friends had. In my mind, my role in these conversations is clearly defined - to listen, learn, and observe God's redemption over humanity, displayed before my very eyes.
My friends are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. They are raw and tired. However, they are together and covered. In one moment of our time together, my friend referenced Psalm 121. She relies on the Word to get her through. He is her keeper and shade. He preserves her and is her help. How can any word of advice replace His help? Yet we (or I) so quickly revert to this world for answers to questions that are of an unseen reality. If He is Love, and each of these women have been called to love these specific boys, for such a time as this, then He is their only avenue for love. He has the technique, words, body language, tone of voice and power to heal their broken hearts. He is their only and final source for victory. He knows their innermost being and knows the path to restore them back to Him. He is the only missing link and He is the only one that fits.
At this moment, I'm reminded again of the gift of Uganda. Thus far in my walk with Christ, which up until now has been geographically located in the US, I've only called upon the Spirit for help when my earthly answers haven't solved the problem. I may have not seen prayer as a last resort, but it surely has not always been my first. Why is that? Why can I not first see that my supernatural battle needs a supernatural weapon? Well, I'm learning. Slowly. The Lord had to first drop me in East Africa to teach me such a lesson. Now that I'm here and have recognized my sin, He's left me here to practice the way of repentance. So I'm now learning to call upon Him moment by moment rather than failed attempt by failed attempt. I believe Uganda, rather their Ugandan family members, have brought them to the same place. The Holy Spirit's help, wisdom, understanding and discernment is the only way out of any valley we experience. I just all too often try my rock climbing skills before I practice my falling on my knees skills. Thank you Lord, thank you Uganda, and thank you friends for leading a life in the Spirit.
So, every Thursday turns into the Lord's testimony. It turns into a bridge from a garden with tennis and tea to a throne room with milk and honey. I love Thursdays and I love my friends, their passion, their calling and their longing. Thursdays are good.