Danielle Bink, one of our long term volunteers in South Africa (and an integral part of HOA) went to Uganda recently to help with our newly purchased land. She also went to meet our partners in Kenya and Uganda and make a plan for implementing AWANA programs in those areas. Below are some of her thoughts on her experiences from that trip:
I was able to go to Uganda and see the plot of land HOA has purchased. It is so exciting to be in a place where things grow in abundance because the ground is fertile, there is plenty of water, and the climate is ideal. I love farming/agriculture! I think that it has to be one of the best occupations and everyone should cultivate something in the course of their lifetime. The first job God gave to mankind was cultivating the garden. There is something about being a part of helping things grow that is extremely satisfying to me. It’s also really important, because without food, humanity wouldn’t be able to survive. I have been gardening and working with land and plants for many years. Being in a different country, however, is a different story. The basic principles I have learned can be applied, but I have to be willing to learn, seek advice, and do things differently than I would normally do. There’s not a cold winter season, so things grow so much faster here than they do in Montana. Planning takes on a whole different picture when there is a shorter time frame until things are fully grown. The variety of plant life is overwhelming at times because pretty much anything will thrive here. There are people who have been working with the land here for many years and the wise thing to do is glean information and skills from them. They know what works here.
The same things I have been learning about agriculture in a different country can be applied to cultivating people. This kind of cultivation is even more important than plants because it has eternal implications. I have been working with different groups of young people over many years and had the opportunity to observe a workshop that Tamsin (HOA’s East Africa Director) was conducting with local youth from the Kampala area. Much like farming, I realized that when working with youth, what works in one culture doesn’t necessarily work in another. Again, I have to be willing to learn, seek advice, and be willing to do things differently. I can come into a situation with my preconceived ideas and completely offend people with my careless words. There are people who have been ministering here for years and the wise thing to do is learn and listen. Each person has been through things that are different from my experiences. Humility needs to play a huge role in how I interact with people. I have something to learn from every person I come into contact with. I will be completely useless to anyone if I think I can fix the problems people face. Thank Jesus that He is the One who changes hearts, lives, and situations. I am not in charge or in this alone. When we are focused on obeying Him and loving the people He puts in our lives, we will be much more effective. He has given us the tools and power we need for the situations He places us in through His Word and His Spirit. He is the ultimate expert on the human heart and what we need to flourish. He knows what works here.