This Was Even Better Than a Day Off

While in Uganda, high school student Ashley Malloy was excited about her team’s day off: a chance to relax, recharge, and go shopping in the capital city. But it turned out God had other plans for the day.

Once a week on an Ambassador trip, teams get a day of rest. It’s supposed to be a day to spend time with God, fellowship with the team, and explore the country we’re serving in.

Our day was planned out for us. We were going to have an hour or so to read our Bibles and spend time with God, then we were going to pack into vans and drive into Kampala, the capital of Uganda. In Kampala, you don’t see huts or orphanages full of children in need of love. It’s a city, and though different from America, it seemed far more familiar than the dirt roads of Entebbe (even for this small town, southern girl).

So we drove into Kampala with the intentions of spending a few hours at the local craft market, eating at a local restaurant, possibly returning to the craft market if time permitted, then returning to our lodging for the remainder of the evening.

The craft market was amazing. I spent a ton of money, and I’m not even mad about it. We ate a fantastic lunch, and it was a nice break from the rice and beans we had been eating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for my rice and beans, but if I can have a double cheeseburger and a Coke I’m going to have to accept. After lunch we returned to the craft market, and then left to go home.

That’s when everything changed.

Our host, Pastor Mulunde, told us there is a church he would like us to visit. The church was pastored by a friend of his, and he had promised to bring his “American visitors” by. Apparently people had been waiting all day, though we had no idea of this until we heard about the church.

Reluctantly, we agreed to visit. I mean, it’s was day of rest, right? We weren’t supposed to do ministry. This was supposed to be a fun day. Right? But here we are, cramped tight in two separate vans, headed towards this church. Most of us had serious attitudes at this point. We were not in the right mindset to do ministry. But we were going later.

As we pull up to the church, we heard singing. Not just singing, but worship. We piled out of the vans, and somehow, I ended up in the lead. I was front of the line that we made so we could walk through the doors, and as soon as I walk in, there were cheers of joy. These people had literally been waiting all day for the “visitors from America”. The cheering and applause was practically deafening. I kept walking through the crowd, leading my team behind me. The crowd parted for me as I took steps. Children ran up to hug me and adults put their hands out for me to shake. I felt so important. I was led to a seat in the very front row, and my team followed right behind. Each of us were given seats in the first or second rows.

I sat down, and my mindset immediately switched. I was smiling. Children came up and hugged me just so they could touch me. I started to check my thoughts. “Why am I important? Why are they so excited to see me?” The answer? I’m not.

It wasn’t me these people wanted to see. It was Jesus in me.

It was late, and these people were as tired as we were, but all of the sudden it didn’t seem to matter. We took the stage and each of us shared our names. As a team, we felt that we should make up for making these people wait for us all day. I was handed a microphone and immediately began to sing. I started to sing “I’m trading my sorrows. I’m trading my shame.”

The people in Uganda knew the song, and began singing with us. Tyler, another girl on the team, had the idea to actually go into the crowd and engage. The rest of the team followed her except for Maddie and I. People began jumping out of their seats, and we all praised God together. We worshipped together. I was dancing and clapping and singing (and honestly running out of breath but I didn’t have it in me to stop).

In that moment, I saw heaven. I was worshipping with people from different tribes, tongues, and nations. All I could think was, This is what heaven will look like. This is it. Everyone will be worshipping God, but I won’t feel tired, I won’t get short of breath, I won’t need to stop. We will never need to stop praising God in heaven. This thought was liberating. It made me want to keep going. So we did. We sang and danced for as long as we could, but unfortunately, we are still on Earth, and our bodies were still becoming increasingly tired. Eventually, we had to stop.

I walked out of that church changed. I was humbled, and had a new mindset. I was not rested. But let me tell you something else, it didn’t matter. I’m typing this, ready to go to sleep, but I have to get this off my chest. I’m not rested and I don’t care. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a day off when you’re a Christian. Every day, every moment, and every conversation is an opportunity to share God’s love with someone. I’m not here to be rested, I’m here to do the Lord’s work. And I can’t wait to do more.

The deadline for 2017 Ambassador trips has passed, but we have great news! The USA Road trip is still open! CLICK HERE to join a team of high school students on a first-ever 3 state USA road trip!!