Compassion

One month.

That’s just so crazy to me! One month since this journey began. It feels longer than that and shorter than that. It seems so much has happened and I am learning exponentially.

Because of the distance in travel time that my internship is from the campus at UCU, I have the privilege to live with a welcoming Ugandan host family part of my week! While there are some logistical challenges with traveling back and forth and being away from campus for most of the weekdays, I am so thankful for a gracious and loving family that creates a little bit of home for me in Kampala, and I look forward to continually getting to know them better.

I am getting into the (fluid) routine of activities at my internship at Refugee Law Project (RLP). So far, I have observed/helped in the registration process for persons with disabilities at the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) refugee registration event in Kampala, accompanied and advocated for a client to receive medical assistance at a local hospital, and observed and documented client counseling sessions while simultaneously learning more about RLP’s and Uganda’s policies and services for refugees. All while engaging in these activities, I am witnessing raw and real stories of suffering and pain which produces questions of why I am allotted the privileges and resources which I hold.

In our Faith and Action class on campus, we have been reading a book called Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life which has been pushing me to contemplate my reactions to all that I am seeing and learning. Compassion is so much more than just feeling sorry for another person but instead it should be a reflection of the love of Immanuel – God with us, which calls for crazy love which might put us in some uncomfortable situations. In compassion, there is no “us” and “them” in the distinction of who is blessing who but instead an acknowledgement of mutual brokenness. In this way,“Radical servanthood challenges us, while attempting persistently to overcome poverty, hunger, illness, and any other forms of human misery, to real the gentle presence of our compassionate God in the midst of our broken world.” God is the only one who can bring healing and change and I am a mere and small vessel; but I am praying for his divine gift of compassion that will bring me to love more and love truly.

 

Alongside learning some of these tough lessons, God has been blessing me with gifts that remind me of his love and his presence such as attending an international church service singing worship songs I love, a visit from a friend from my home university, enjoying fellowship with friends and ice cream, and just witnessing creation’s beauty!

 

Your love so deep is washing over me

Your face is all I seek; You are my everything //

All fear removed, I breath You in

I lean into Your love. Oh, Your love

 

These powerful and true words that mean so much to me in this season and I pray they ring too for you too!

 

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The learning begins

Officially one week in!

It’s hard to believe that it has only been one week. It has been a long week but it has been good. The week began with orientation for the semester and the beginning of classes.

I am already getting settled into my home for the next few months at Uganda Christian University in Mukono. The campus is gorgeous and our group has been graciously and warmly welcomed (by the students, staff, and the weather). I will be taking two classes at the university to accompany the rest of my time at my senior social work practicum (which I am so excited about!).

I will be interning at an organization called the Refugee Law Project (RLP) based in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. RLP is an organization that began in 1999 in a response to the high number of refugees that Uganda has welcomed into its borders. RLP provides legal, mental, and psychosocial assistance with the purpose to “empower asylum seekers, refugees, deportees, IDPs, and host communities to enjoy their human rights and lead dignified lives”. (Learn more about their great work at refugeelawproject.org )!! Here I will be working mainly in the Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing department of the organization assisting in various activities. I’ve only had one day at my internship so far, but I look forward to all that I will learn there and for the professional growth that will accompany the experience.

 

I am already learning some great lessons within my first week here in Uganda. I’ve learned how to properly hand wash my clothes, where to find some great places to eat in town, and I have been challenged to think about my purpose and learning experience for the semester. I have been challenged to push into the tension and discomfort and know that I will grow from it. And I pray that through everything, it may be “all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10: 31).

Just one of the many beautiful sunsets!

Heading Out

I’m going! I can’t believe that the time is finally here and I am heading to Uganda for a semester abroad.

Back to Uganda. It was three and a half years ago that I left Ugandan soil after a life-changing and eye-opening mission trip experience. I fell in love with the land and the people and since that time have longed to return to Uganda. And it is finally happening!

There is some comfort to return to a country that I have been to before when facing all of the other uncertainties of a study abroad experience. Yet even with that comfort, everything is different than before. I will be in a new location and here for a redefined purpose. I am entering this experience as a social work student. I will be learning from the people of the land and learning through action. Still, I believe that God has allowed me to embark on this journey to love others and to learn more about him.

As I enter into this new season and this new experience, I pray for a continual renewing of humility, grace, and love. I pray that I will be able to remember why I am embarking on this journey – I am going to learn and I am going to love. I pray that I will be able to grow professionally as a social worker, grow socially, and grow spiritually.

There are so many unknowns ahead. But I have peace and hope. For my God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and he is with me always. I joyfully look forward to this experience and would be honored if you join this journey with me!