Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nobody Can Say No

As the wind whips snow around the window outside, it kind of blows my mind that in just a few months I will be walking on rusty dirt paths just miles from the equator. As I imagine those dusty roads, laden with potholes and constantly begging the question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" (which to anyone who has set foot in Uganda would garner quite a laugh since there's always a chicken crossing the road), but as I picture those roads I start to think about the road that's led me to where I am today.

It's been 6 years since I first set foot on Ugandan soil. I was 19 years old, going into my junior year of college, and didn't know much of the world beyond my white, rural, farming town in Western New York. I thought I knew so much, but I soon realized that was untrue. During that trip, God opened my eyes to so many things.

When I got home, I would've loved nothing more than to quit school and move to Uganda right then. But my parents wisely told me "No" so I stuck with my studies. I can remember learning about a statistic that said that a child dies every 4 seconds due to preventable causes associated with their poverty. There were days that I'd sit in class watching the second hand on the clock, noting the passing of another 4 seconds and another 4 seconds and another child, and another. It ripped me apart to sit there listening to lectures on 20th century art while children were dying from things I could do something about.

But I quickly found that God had a plan in it all.

I went to a State University. Very few of my professors were Christians, but the semester after my first trip to Uganda, as I was struggling to understand what my role would be in helping these children, I had a professor who changed my life. She encouraged me to write about my experiences and by doing so I found the strength to keep going and keep trusting that God had a plan.

I returned to Uganda in 2008, and in 2009, just months after I graduated with my Bachelor's Degree in education, I spent 3 weeks ministering there. After returning home I became very sick. For 9 months I was bedridden. The doctors were unable to figure out what was wrong. My biggest fear wasn't about what could possibly be going on inside me, but that I may never get a chance to go back to the country I'd fallen in love with. But the Lord reassured me I'd go back and do so much more if I just trusted.

We finally figured out that it was parasites causing the problem, and after a few months of herbal remedies I was back to full health and ready to get on a plane. It was after that next trip that I knew it was time to start preparing for going to the mission field longer than 3 weeks.

I applied for a position with AMG International that would have me working as their team-coordinator in Uganda. I had spoken with the director of AMG in Uganda, and as he described the position that needed to be filled, I felt God was saying, "This is where you need to be."

There were many people who were hesitant to send a young, single, female missionary to a country like Uganda. But the Lord kept working. He asked me to take steps of faith, and as I did He confirmed to others that this was in fact what I was meant to do. I've come to see how taking the time to stay at home and get my degree will help me in field since a good majority of my job will involve teaching and discipling Primary and Secondary students. It's been quite a journey so far, but I can see God's hand in it all.

There's a song that the children sing in Uganda. The words say, "When Jesus says yes, nobody can say no." I chose the words of this song as the name for my blog because I feel it fits my story so well. There have been many people who have pointed out many reasons I should say "No" to doing this work. Remember that sickness? What will you do without family and friends around? You'll be all alone. You don't have a husband. You're so young. But with as many reasons to say "No" I find that I can't, because the words of that song ring true.

When Jesus says yes, nobody can say no.

I have a mission, a purpose in life. And while it will take me away from family and friends and it will involve risks and sacrifices, none of those can outweigh the fact that I was called to Christ, and He has work for me to do.

- Aly

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