The night before I left for Uganda, I made a last-minute trip to Trader Joe's. I picked up a couple of my favorite lavender soaps and salt scrubs.
It cost me $15.
The return on my investment...priceless.
It was Sunday afternoon when we opened our supply bag in the Ugandan village of Kaihura, about a 4 hour, bumpy ride to the west of capital city Kampala. I was instantly greeted by that sweet, familiar scent of lavender.
I walked into a small school room, dimly lit by only it's windows. What is the size of a traditional classroom in the States holds up to 80 students here. This Sunday afternoon, it was filled with 40 of the most beautiful women I've ever met.
They were all widows, specially invited to gather together. Some were old, some younger than me. We spoke different languages. I spoke through a translator. We didn't really need to speak anything at all. Our faces told our stories, every line, every wrinkle, every smile, every scar.
I had prepared a few notes, written down a few verses of Scripture to share with them. But, God scripted my words. I began by telling them I was a widow too. Suddenly, the miles, the culture, anything that made us different, melted away. We connected in that moment.
It was bittersweet, yet beautiful.
I shared my story of losing my husband; I shared how our great God had walked with me in every season, a time for mourning, a time for healing, and a time for moving forward. I encouraged them that no matter what season we are in, our God is the Defender of Widows. He is FOR us.
Then I asked if anyone wanted to share their stories.
I was taken back to 3 years of a prayer that would keep me up some nights: "God, I wanna be a voice for the widows."
I ended our time in prayer and in sharing my life verse, Ephesians 5:1-2, where we are called to be dearly loved children of God. I recited in their language, "You are dearly loved."
Then, we had jugs of water and basins brought in. Two incredible ladies from our team joined me; we kneeled down, lavender soap and salts in hand, and 3 by 3, we washed each widow's feet.
The aroma will forever remind me of this unforgettable moment.
I could not have asked or imagined that response; it was Jesus, only Jesus. I'm so humbled to have been a part, to have the Lord take a simple act of love and transform it into such a fragrant offering. To Him belongs all the glory.
I extend my sincerest thank you to our trip leader, Sherry Kovak, and 410 Bridge staff member, Amy Todd, who orchestrated the details to make this experience possible. I will be forever grateful.
More stories to come...