We were thanked today for leaving the comfort of our beds to come all this way to be bitten by mosquitos, which is why we have to take Malarone. Each day we breakfast together and the conversation often includes a discussion of the crazy Malarone inspired dreams we are all having, from scaling the Eiffel Tower to get closer to God, shooting fish with self generated lightning and chasing high on drugs youth around Staines.
This morning we were thrilled dedicate the house which we have built and to meet again with the builders, in praise and thanks to God. I cannot imagine a building project in the UK beginning with prayer and ending with worship. We were touched by the prayers and appreciation of the local building team and moved by the words of our Watoto guide, brought up himself in a Watoto home, that a home like this had changed his life and would change the lives of a new generation of Ugandan children, future leaders, people of influence, maybe the next president. It is indeed an honour to leave a tangible sign of our presence and of our tiny part in rebuilding this nation. I hope one day to return to Labora village and see the family living in the house we have built, as some of those on the team have been able to visit the family in the house in Bbira built in 2007.
After lunch, we visted Living Hope, Watoto's ministry to women. Here in Gulu there are many women who were abducted as children and given to LRA soldiers as "wives". They have not only been forced to commit atrocities against their families and villages but also to bear children, either by other abducted soldiers or by LRA commanders, even Kony himself. Hving escaped or been released at the end of the war, they have often not been accepted into their communities and they are stigmatised. Having suffered so much, they are left without sense of worth, purpose or hope. Here they are given counselling, adult literacy, trained in sewing and business practice, and provided with a monthly supplementary food parcel. They are loved and valued and supported. They are restored to be the women God created them to be and to the future he has planned for them, plans to prosper them and not to harm them.
Today I have spoken to a man whose parents were burned at the hands of the LRA, he has struggled since his teenage years, as a child head of household, to put his younger siblings through school. I have spoken to the foster mother of three children who were born in the bush, children of abducted child soldiers, and two AIDS orphans. I have heard of children who are rejected by their own families, unable to come to terms with the horrific acts they have been forced to commit. And I have seen the church of Jesus Christ in power and love bring hope and redemption and new life.