In their own words: WWU student missionaries (part 1)

Heidi Spady shares her experience working at the Christalis home for orphans in Uganda

In part one of a series of articles by WWU student missionaries, Heidi Spady, senior biology/pre-medicine major, writes about her time working at the Christalis home for orphans in Uganda during the 2014-15 school year.

After many months of prayer, less than a week of packing, and 53 hours of traveling, I have found myself in the beautiful country of Uganda. The water and electricity come and go, the cooking is done over fires, refrigeration is almost unheard of, and the mosquitoes are rampant. But in this primitive place, I have found amazing people, a simpler way of life, and a place to call home.

By far the best part about this new home is the kids. They have all come from undesirable pasts, but they each have their own unique personality, and I love each one of them. Out of the 27 children in the home, I have developed a particularly close bond with one of the trouble-making yet fun and caring little boys named Michael.

Mugisha, Michael’s mother, was mentally ill and was diagnosed as a “lunatic” by the doctors here. When she did not take proper care of Michael, a social worker handed him off to another guardian. When the guardian was no longer able to provide for him, the social worker sent him here. He is seven years old and only speaks his native language Rutooro. This makes it harder for Michael to communicate in the home where the main language is Lukonjo and especially hard for him at his English school.

Upon arriving, Michael always seemed to find one of my hands when we would go anywhere. After a while I noticed that Michael was craving attention and love. The kids in the home take care of him, but due to his troublesome nature and many misunderstandings, he hasn’t developed the close relationships he needs to thrive. Since coming to this realization I have tried to take him under my wing by tutoring him. At first it was a challenge. I decided to start teaching him English by teaching him the ABCs, numbers, and simple English words. Also, the other student missionaries and I have started playing with him more and showing him that we truly care about him.

After almost two months, Michael enjoys being tutored. Although he still faces challenges, he can count to 30 without skipping too many numbers and recognizes all but a few ABCs. He is also catching on to many English words. Every day when he arrives home from school he asks me how I am and tells me that school was okay. He also tries to communicate all of his other needs and feelings to me through his English-Rutooro speech. He is still causing some trouble, but I can tell that he truly cares about others. He is also beginning to feel our love for him. Every time he sees me he will run over to me to give me several hugs and several high fives.

Each one of these kids has a special personality and their own room to grow and mature. Yet each one has a special place in my heart. I am learning that through God the little things can make a big difference. I hope that I can continue to make a difference in these kid’s lives like they are making a difference in mine.

Posted August 19, 2015

Heidi Spady is a senior biology/pre-medicine major