This past Saturday was quite possibly my favorite day here in Gulu thus far.
In order to fully explain why...i'll have to back it up to a few weeks ago...
I was walking home from work one day with Charissa when we befriended a teenage girl and her younger cousin. The girl introduced herself to us as Winifred, aka Winnie. She had such a gentle voice, and a cool confidence about her that I liked immediately. We started talking and she was telling us how she was staying at her Aunt's house in Gulu trying to find a way to get back to school. I asked her where she went and she said Restore Leadership Academy. I had heard of Restore before coming to Uganda (senior year of college I read Bob Goff's book Love Does) and also because we have a couple guy friends who work there. Winnie said she was really praying for a miracle to get back to school and didn't know what to do next. A small part of me thought, this girl could be crazy, but that slowly faded once I realized how badly she wanted to go back to school to get an education- something we often take for granted in the states. I saw the sincerity in her eyes, and told her to come back to my compound in a few days to talk about it more.
Winnie came back with her cousin Bridget and we sat down on my front porch and talked about her schooling. She had already missed the first two weeks of term, but I told her not to worry. Weeks prior I had met an American guy out here named John who graduated from APU four years before I did. Turns out John is the man in charge at Restore Leadership Academy so I gave him a call, ended up seeing him at a futbol game the next day, and we worked out a way to get Winnie back to school. God works in crazy ways like that and its simply the best.
So, fast forward to present time...Winnie has been able to go back to Restore Leadership Academy to finish off her Junior year of h.s. She has hopes to graduate next November and ultimately wants to be a veterinarian. I wish you all could meet her, she is the most incredible 17 year old I know. Shes brilliant, confident, a leader in her friend group, and amazing example to the younger girls, a singer, a dancer, and has an unwavering faith in Christ that is contagious. This past Saturday I was able to make it out to Restore (40 minutes from town) to visit Winnie....and coincidentally it happened to be the same day Bob Goff (founder of restore) was coming to visit with 30 other Americans - so basically it was the best day ever. It was so much fun seeing Winnie in her environment at school. She showed us her dorm room, her notebooks, the things she is learning, and her face beamed with pride and joy as she gave us a tour.
I loved every minute of it...welcome to the best day ever...
Winnie is the second to the right...and these are the girls in her dorm. They were all hilarious and we had a blast talking about music we liked, food, school, what we wanted to do when we grew up, our hometowns, etc.
We even spent some time doing some impromptu dancing
This is Winnie's notebook on North America. She has incredible penmanship and I kept telling her how proud I was of how dedicated she is to her studies!
Thats our friend Dave who works in the computer lab (donated by intel) at Restore. The primary kids loved scooting their chairs closer and closer to him hah
Rice and beans for lunch!
running to welcome Bob Goff and the team
Dave gave this girl his glasses...hahah
Primary students in pink, secondary students in blue and yellow
Winnie suggested we stand like this! Restore is in the process of building a guest house (a mini hotel) on their property so when people come and visit they have a place to stay. We're standing in the almost finished dining room/kitchen area!
Mr. Bob Goff himself! Such a joyful guy! Its really awesome when you read someone' book (love does) and then get to meet them in real life. He is really so much fun and the kids loved taking photos with him.
The secondary (high school) students all live at school while the primary kids walk home to their surrounding villages. Maddy and I were able to walk some of them part of the way home and they are seriously the most friendly kids you will ever meet! Every year they are adding a new grade to the primary school to hopefully get all 7 levels!
on the boda ride home from the best day ever
SO THANKFUL to have spent the day at Restore Leadership Academy. My heart was so full knowing that Winnie was thriving and loving life out there and I cannot thank the Lord enough for the way he orchestrated everything out.
"Now to him who is able to do far more ABUNDANTLY beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the GLORY in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever AMEN." - Ephesians 3:20-21