Jen Dotzert, from our partner church in Indiana, recently joined us on a trip to Uganda. She shares about her experiences here…
I remember traveling to Uganda for the first time, just shy of two years ago. I was with a team from my church, working with in-country Bright Hope staff to provide teaching workshops. I was in complete awe.
When I went back again this year, this time with my husband and son, I thought to myself, “Why me? How could I be so blessed to return for a second time?” I could not stop smiling.
On my first trip there was a day we were walking on a trail to visit a school and I literally felt God’s presence all around me. I thought to myself, I could just stay right here, in the middle of this field, feeling His presence. Then again, on this second trip, I was racked with emotion as we were able to walk that very same trail. I was literally in tears.
There is something magical about Uganda, and it is not just because it is in Africa and has a beautiful landscape. The people and their faith, and their love for one another, is physically felt. One day we danced and sang with parents and grandparents celebrating their love for their children and the school. The smiles crack your heart wide open.
We saw young children love and play with our own children. We met church members who were literally being the hands and feet of Jesus, leaving the church and serving their community.
I love when the church is more than just the building, when the church is its people. We spoke with village members who have participated in workshops that were hosted by Bright Hope partner churches, and the result is that it’s impacting their own families and other families in their villages too.
Shouldn’t we all live that way—learning and then sharing what we have learned and how we have grown with those around us? We witnessed HOPE and FAITH firsthand.
On top of all of that, the Bright Hope in-country staff literally blew me away with their dedication, love and support for what they are doing through each church and in each community. They work tirelessly towards the mission of Bright Hope, and their love for their work was so apparent. Their focus and determination was so very evident and I thought to myself, “I just want to be even a small part of what they are doing…”
The work and movement being done in the communities in Uganda is unique because you can’t always touch or physically see the results. Sometimes people serving on short-term mission trips want to build something, paint something, or leave items so they can then see how they helped in a tangible way. However, those types of service projects don’t always give the biggest or best long-term results… and all too often the impact on those who completed the project wears off quickly. Instead it’s important to learn to not focus just on physical results, but to focus on what you cannot see and the seeds we are planting while serving.
I had a mentor once tell me we all need to “own your ripple.”
You see, each one of us should be causing a ripple for His kingdom. We may or may not see the first ripple, but most importantly, that first ripple creates another ripple, which creates another and on and on. What you do for His kingdom could have a ripple effect for so many years that we may not even be alive to witness it. We need to trust that if we are obedient and follow Him, our ripple effect will continue.
I believe the work Bright Hope is completing in Uganda is causing more than ripples, but rather waves—and what a complete and total blessing it was to be able to witness it not once, but twice.
While we were visiting with some of the parents and grandparents at a school, we also heard this saying: “small trees grow strong forests.” I think this goes hand-in-hand with the idea of the ripples. When you first plant a tree, it may be small and may not give you much shade or fruit, but if taken care of, the impact of that tree will go on for years and have a lasting impact.
I feel blessed I have been able to see the ripples created by Bright Hope in Uganda. However, I am forever grateful for the ripple effect in my life that comes from the love my Savior has shown me, and I am amazed at what my love and relationship with Him has changed in me, through me and around me.
So may I ask you this: how will you provide ripples and create Hope for today, Hope for tomorrow and Hope for eternity? What ripple effect are YOU creating?
Own your ripple.