By MARK MAYNARD / AFA
PANYANGA, Uganda – WOW!
Putting the Amy For Africa Mission to Moyo adventure into words is getting tougher by the day. The blessings are piling up higher than some of the incredible mountaintops surrounding the Moyo region.
We are getting bigger and better – and not just because Big Sandy Superstores CEO Rob VanHoose is one of our team members.
What we are quickly learning is that the plans for passing out 26,000 shoes goes way beyond what goes on the feet. It’s the heart that we’re really after anyway. We were reminded of that again when what seemed like thousands of children came running toward our bus and ushered into the school area in Panyanga, which is one of the sites for the Penne Paris Nursery School. Those children, wearing their trademark purple uniforms, were so well disciplined throughout the excitement.
Remember, to put it in perspective, this was better than Christmas Day for them.
If you want to get your heart pumping, come along for the ride. The excitement that the children and dancers brought as we stepped onto their turf was akin to rock stars coming into the arena before a performance.
One little girl was wearing a Hannah Montana t-shirt but Miley Cyrus wouldn’t have got the same reception that the AFA team received. And that’s no joke.
The dancers took us to a place under the tree where chairs were set up for their “honored guests.” They made us feel honored, inviting Amy to do some dancing and later allowing her to speak. Then they honored her with a pregnant goat, which the United Christian Expedition loaded up to take back to their farm with other goats. It was truly a precious gift.
This trip was especially significant for us because it was the home area for Gabriel Lazarri, our good friend and Floyd’s right-hand man in Moyo. He was so proud of AFA being there for the shoe distribution. Other dignitaries were also on hand to welcome us with open arms. It was all quite humbling and more than we expected (or deserved).
The second day of the shoe distribution was sooooo much better. We were better organized, went in with a better plan and put 1,500 pairs of shoes (at least) on the children and a few adults. They also were able to see Dr. Maggie Lawentmann, who wasn’t sure how she was going to do on the bus ride over. But after some anointing on the bus, Dr. Maggie’s symptoms seemed to go completely away. She even joined Shannon Luther and Whitney Saucedo for a cross-fit training session after we returned to Bro. Floyd Paris’ compound in Moyo.
It’s a good thing Dr. Maggie had the recovery she did because she was able to see hundreds of “patients” and dispense a lot of medicine that we purchased here. Dr. Maggie is a godsend to our group in so many ways and her medical skills have been a blessing to the people of Moyo.
Everybody on this team has a special skill and it’s a wonder watching how it all comes together for God’s glory. We were able to speak with children about Jesus and, for some, put on the first pair of shoes they’ve ever owned. It’s not about the shoes, it’s about the message. Moyo has hope in a hopeless situation because of Amy For Africa.
When the shoe distribution was over, we passed out some “sweeties” to the children and then did some dancing and playing with them. We took photos of the children and showed them their picture as they giggled with each snapshot. They were touching Amy Blankenbeckley’s skin to see if the white would rub off. We taught them high-fives, fist bump explosions, hugged on them and loved on them. That’s all they wanted anyway.
Bigger and better? No doubt about it. And we have five more shoe distributions to go.