By Mommy Emily
There’s a road from Kampala to Jinja and it’s called Kampala Road when you’re driving to Kampala and Jinja Road when you’re driving to Jinja.
We are driving to Jinja.
Past lush green tea plantations and long lines of potted flowers. Past school students in all different colors of uniform – the little ones running towards the Lulu van waving, older ones shying away at the sight of “muzungu“ or white people.
There are five of us, here for seven days to see what God is doing in The Lulu Tree.
We stop at the local hotel to leave our bags and then follow the red dirt road to Namagera Village. It’s rained so we go slowly over the bumps with Joel at the wheel and Esther in the back beside me. She’s teaching us a song in Luganda to sing for the local churches on Sunday.
“There’s the green roof!” Esther says suddenly, pointing, and it’s rising to meet the sky – the teen mama dorm for local teen mothers and their babies. Beside it is a white tent and under it the pastors and teen mamas are waiting in plastic blue chairs for us to arrive.
Esther tells me it’s happening… the pastors are coming in droves and communities are being changed and Lulu has become a defense for teen mamas all over and a mad woman was delivered and pastors are eager to serve and can’t wait to go and raise up other branches and the moms from the slum want to sew things to give away not to sell and they want their time and skills to go back into the ministry.
She pauses, her face alight as we park and the mamas draw near, their young faces smiling and babies tied to their backs with colorful scarves.
Esther tells me the teen mamas want to go around to schools challenging and encouraging and ministering to teenage girls.
She says she’s stopped trying to understand the Lulu vision and is working on just receiving it daily and being Jesus’ hands and feet.
We spend the day with our Lulu family under the white tent, the gentle mooing of the Lulu cow and calf beside us, toddlers playing with each other in the grass and the blue Uganda sky stretched high above us.
We spend it listening to pastors thanking us for helping them serve their communities through the microloan program. They testify how Lulu prayer clinics are inspiring them not only to pray but to travel to other regions and countries teaching other pastors how to pray. The mama kit ministry is opening doors for them to evangelize to hard-to-reach families and most importantly, they’re realizing how precious their children are because of the children’s outreaches.
A young widow who has three kids and helps care for Lulu’s babies while their mamas are in school shares how the microloan program has helped her get her own land and a house.
The teen mothers’ mothers testify to God rescuing them when Lulu took their daughters back to school. How they’d had to hide in their houses before and sneak through the bush at night, shamed by the community for having a pregnant child. How the fathers had sometimes beat their pregnant daughters until they were unconscious, one girl’s baby born with crooked feet because of the beating.
This baby’s feet are now straightening out and the teen girls serve everyone heaping plates of matoke (boiled banana) with groundnut sauce and steamed kale. They tell us how much they love Jesus and how they want to be police and teachers and evangelists when they graduate so they can change the world for other girls like them.
That night Esther and I kneel down and sing How Great is Our God. Our voices rise past the hotel roof into the eastern hemisphere as we worship, there in Uganda, the pearl of Africa.