By Mommy Emily
I am walking with Mommy Esther, cloth bag on my shoulder, flip-flops making noiseless patterns in Uganda’s red soil. We pass Erica who’s taking photos of village children who’ve become fascinated with her sunglasses. We pass banana and mango trees.
Pastor Paul is heading towards us, looking weary. He smiles nonetheless and we have to beg him to tell us what’s wrong. He has malaria, he says, this young man whose wife has battled infertility for years and just miscarried. He volunteers with The Lulu Tree – he’s a teacher who’s turned down many jobs because he says God is going to give Lulu a school and when he does, he wants to work at it. In the meantime, he’s been helping the teen mamas with their studies and working part-time as associate pastor.
Esther slips him money for malaria medication and he thanks us shyly, begins to walk towards the town center. We pass by jajjas bearing firewood on their heads and tooth-gapped smiles, children lugging yellow jerry cans and then the two acres of Lulu land where our dorms reside and teen mamas’ laundry is drying on bushes.
And just five minutes down the path from the dorms is the school.
The one our teen mamas are currently attending.
The one that is being sold to The Lulu Tree.
It didn’t surprise me when I found out the pastor of the school, the acting principal, had heard God tell him to sell the school to The Lulu Tree. He owns two schools and was planning to sell anyway, but had received a very kind offer from an interested buyer.
Yet he refused, and discounted the price, knowing it was meant for Lulu.
You see, God showed me this school last summer when I was praying about whether or not we should build one. He said no – He said He wanted Uganda to use its own schools to care for these teen mamas. He said He had one in mind.
As we approach it now, the village children attending the school wave at us from the open windows. There are two brick structures side by side; it will allow us to reach more than 100 teen mamas in addition to the current students. Those who can will pay school fees, but those who can’t will attend nonetheless. It will be the first teen mama school in the country, and in addition to that, we’re hoping to teach pastors.
A small temporary kitchen at the back dishes out posho (maize flour with water) to the children. The open windows and doors prevent this school from being used during the rainy season; we must cover them, and the floor is merely dirt, so jiggers crawl their way into the students’ feet. There is no source for clean water—we are believing in God for a rainwater harvester–and no bathrooms–so we are trusting God for these things.
But He’s already supplied the $16,000 USD for purchasing the school.
We serve a God who does exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.
In supplying this school, He’s multiplying the money we were formerly using for school fees for 22 teen mamas — that same money can now be used to teach five times that many (once the school has been licensed, and the doors and windows and all those things provided).
And He’s providing us with a way to bless those who’ve faithfully volunteered with Lulu — in particular, a certain pastor who’s turned down many other jobs, in faith that such a day would come when he could teach at Lulu’s very own school.
This Mother’s Day, as you celebrate your mama, we want to offer you a beautiful, handmade bean necklace, made by our mamas, to give to YOURS, in exchange for you partnering monthly with our teen mamas—making it possible for girls whose lives have been discarded to once again, have hope. Go here for more info: www.thelulutree.com/partner/. This offer will extend to Father’s Day.