This morning my mom and I went down to Main Street for our town's annual History Fair to watch the parade. As fire trucks blew their whistles and little hands and feet hustled to grab candy, I was thinking:
It all started one year ago.
Last year I went down to the History Fair parade feeling a bit tired. At the time I was cleaning a house for a family I knew, and after the parade I headed down to work. I came home feeling very sore. I thought it was just from cleaning and being tired. That night there were fireworks at dusk, but I couldn't make it. Instead, I watched them out the window while lying in bed.
I woke up the next morning with a fever, body aches, chills, and a terrible headache. We went to a nearby church to speak about our trip, and I barely made it through. I had to sit down during the hymns. I started leaning on things whenever possible. And after we finished speaking, I went home and took a nap. Later on my fever broke with a drenching sweat, and I knew it was time to go to the doctor. This set us down a road of doctor appointment after doctor appointment. Many tests, but no answers.
And it all started one year ago.
It felt like the longest year of my life, but at the same time it seems impossible that it could already be a year. I sit here today completely amazed at what I've been through, and that even though at times I felt like God had abandoned me, He was always right there by my side. I'm in awe that I had the honor of returning to Uganda despite any health concerns or warnings by some of my friends and family.
While it was all happening, I never in a million years thought I would ever be thankful that I had to suffer through it. I was able to admit that God had a bigger purpose, but I wasn't ready to jump straight to thankful.
The truth is, I am so thankful that I passed through this time. Don't get me wrong, it was horrible. There were times that I had never felt more abandoned by God or more alone, misunderstood, or confused in my life.
But through it all I found an unfailing hope. And one day, as I was encouraged by the hope I'd found in God's promises, I realized something important: I wasn't supposed to keep it. God didn't give me hope so I could keep it to myself like some sort of decoration. It was a gift He intended for me to give away.
One month ago I sat in the dark home of two children who had no parents, no food, and no hope. I was able to share with them my struggles and the hope I had found. That day, two kids who had no reason to smile before we arrived were beaming as we left.
And I thought, if I had listened to the people who told me not to come, I never would've experienced it. I never would've seen what God can do when we put our trust in Him. I never would've understood what He can do when we just allow Him to work in our lives. And that little gift of hope he gave me would still be tucked away on the shelf and not living among those we saw that day.
It changed my life forever. And it all started one year ago.