I once read that our roads may not always be straight, but God is always guiding them. He’s connecting dots that I thought were once scattered all over and filling my life with some amazing people.
For the past few years my husband, Cameron, and I have had the desire to our gifts of photography as something more than just earning an income, we wanted to use it to make a difference, to spread Jesus’ love, to give hope and bring change. At the beginning of April, Cameron and I had the opportunity to travel to Jinja, Uganda with The Archibald Project. They use various media, including photography, to share stories related specifically to orphan care. Adoption and foster care where both huge on my heart at the time, so it was very clear this was where God wanted us. In under two months we applied for and were accepted for the trip, raised our funds, arranged childcare for our kids and were on our way. I thought I would leave Uganda wishing I could bring home every kid I encountered. That, as it would turn out, wasn’t exactly the case.
We spent our first day in a babies’ home. There were about 20 kids, most who have been there for years. We learned that about 17 of them actually had families. They still had parents. They still had siblings. They had a home waiting for them. This was our first encounter with the true orphan crisis in Uganda, and would lead to a deeper understanding of the issue.We spent one day in Uganda with HEAL Ministries, and oh man, this organization is where my heart is at. They come alongside women who have been abandoned, kicked out of their villages and have nowhere else to go. They find them housing, teach them a trade and how to run a sustainable business, they are there for them emotionally and most importantly they fill them spiritually. Once the women have completed their program and are working during the day, they provide childcare for their children. HEAL is doing what’s needed, keeping the kids in their families, and helping preserve that family. There’s so much good happening there. God is truly at work.
We spent the rest of the week with Sole Hope. They deal with diseases, mainly jiggers that enter through the feet. Jiggers are often thought of as a curse or an untreatable disease. That results in people, especially disabled, elderly and children being neglected, abandoned, left to care for themselves. Every week Sole Hope treats a handful of people at their outreach house in Jinja. Through this treatment, education and outreach clinics in the villages they are making a huge impact in Uganda. The patients we saw that week weren’t little kids. We saw adults, the youngest being 2 teenage boys. At first we wondered how this fit into orphan care. But soon I started to see orphan care and prevention differently. Sole Hope is not only providing healing physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. They are showing love and acceptance, giving hope and a way to preserve the family. On that last day we took home patients from the previous week. I saw families being reunited. I saw understanding, acceptance, hope and love. I started to see that orphanages and adoption weren’t the only answer to the orphan crisis. Reuniting families and encouraging a culture where family is elevated is critical, and this takes many forms.
It’s been six months since our feet have left the red African soil. My heart has shifted a thousand times but it keeps coming back to one constant desire. A desire to come alongside more organizations and to help share their stories and the impact they are having on their community, and it is stronger than it ever was before. I once read that our roads may not always be straight, but God is always guiding them. He’s connecting dots that I thought were once scattered all over and filling my life with some amazing people.
Since returning from Uganda, God’s been teaching me to be patient, to be still and to let him work. He’s slowly revealing His path for my family. God is teaching me that if I have the desire to share people’s stories I need to have more of a desire to know Him better. I need to know Him so I can understand and love better. So I can share through his eyes and with his words. My prayer is that we can stay focused on Him and be still, to let Him unfold his plan as He wishes and to have the faith to say yes when the time comes. I’m excited for where God is leading my family. Hopefully I’ll be feeling the red dirt between my toes again sooner than later, but I trust that God is in control and leading me where He wants me to go either way.
Author: Mindy Braun
Photographer: Mindy Braun