by Dale Russell

God loves to surprise us. Has He surprised you lately? Do you give Him “elbow-room”? Do you look for Him? Do you expect Him to break in upon you at any moment?

 Our team has been back from Uganda for about two months.  A few things begin to fade, but there are stories that defy senior memory loss – stories that can be recalled immediately.  Hannah is one of those. In order to make sense of it, I must take you back 16 years.  Bear with me.  It will be worth it.

Ever had those events in life that reshape your perspectives?  God has always been incredibly innovative with what He puts in front of you.

“The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father’s point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows and who remains true to the Lord……… “    James 1:27

Can you ignore this?  Notice he mentions both orphans and widows.  He didn’t have to combine those, but it must be important.

Sandy and I made our first trip to Uganda in 2003. Our lives have not been the same since then.  Our duties were to help with the last touches on the new Otino Waa Children’s Village.  There were 78 orphans who had been rescued from the LRA rebels.  This was to be their new home.

OTW blue doors

The blue paint was important.  These doors reveal a new home for the rescued children.  How can you make a good impression for those you don’t know?  Paint well.  In this case, there will be special residents and they would be world changers in unique ways.

Let’s make a very long story shorter.  Missionaries Bob and Carol Higgins were familiar with these orphans. Local ears to the ground determined the LRA were within two miles and knew of them.  The kids would be targets for kidnapping.  There was no doubt what would happen next.  Violence, capture, child soldiers and new girls for the band of rebels. What would you do?

Fast action on the part of Bob, Carol and locals extracted these kids to safety.  Quickly, a new plan was started.  Otino Waa Children’s Village blossomed out of raw land.  Our time concentrated on the first 10 new homes.  Our labor was an investment into new life.

OTW 2003

It’s mid-July and the kids were due to move in a few weeks.  We had the opportunity to go to the school buildings where they were housed temporarily.  This is where our story begins to unfold.

These kids did not know English.  Fortunately, there were ample locals to assist with communication, but one fact stood out.  Incredibly, they could sing in English and for them, this is how to express excitement and greetings.  I can pour through endless mental file folders supposedly containing important facts, but, usually, to no avail.  This is one exception, easily found and always familiar.

Within that group of kids were many who went on to become teachers, lawyers, medical professionals, new families, community leaders and maybe someday, president of Uganda.  There are so many stories, but we are just considering one.

Hannah 2003

Hannah 2003

I did not meet Hannah that day other than to be, somewhat, aware of her face. (Those cheeks.)  I did not take any of these photos.  I always knew she had been a part of this wonderful group.  The years go by and the group AND their sound remain in my mind.

Now fast forward to this past April.  In usual manner, each team member visiting Otino Waa is assigned a home to share lunch with.  It is a great time to become very engaged and attached.  Little did I know how important this assignment would be.  Life was about to take an interesting turn.




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