Follow along with eight disciples as they travel to Bududa, Uganda to work with our partners at the Bududa Learning Center.

What a day we had in Bududa! After a glorious hike the ‘back way’ to school, we experienced a school assembly, which is an entirely different affair in Africa than anywhere else. During the assembly, it was announced that there would be a futbol game in the afternoon, new students against returning students. Little did we know that this would be a test of our faith…

In preparation for our journey, with an all female team, we have been studying the book of Ruth. We have discussed the concept that while loss may be inevitable, real, transformative change is a choice, a choice that is always available to us though particularly relevant when we are presented with a challenge. During lunch with the teaching staff today we discussed that female soccer is known as ‘leg ball’ (no, I will not spend the rest of the blog talking about all the ways that calling it ‘leg ball’ is wrong, but clearly, it is) and that the female students asked if we would be willing to play with them that afternoon. Let’s just say that for many of us, this invitation can only be described as a serious challenge of our willingness to really engage. This includes Kaylee – “I don’t do sports. At all. Period, full stop.” and Susan – “I am on record saying that I will never, ever play soccer, ever again.”, and Virginia who didn’t even have reasonable shoes to play in (which she then borrowed from our donations). Playing soccer in the heat of a Ugandan afternoon was not on the agenda after a long day in the classroom. We are eight highly organized, Western women who like to be in control and this was not what we had planned. Not to mention the fact that none of us were prepared for bright red soccer uniforms.

But as the invitation unfolded in front of us, I am so proud to say that the whole team stepped up and said yes (all mission team members with bulging discs in their necks were exempt – because traveling halfway around the world with bulging discs seems like challenge enough!). And what an amazing gift it was! As a crowd gathered to watch – eight, relatively older Mzungus (white people) and four young Ugandan women stepped onto the field as one (as a side note, ‘field’ is a bit of an exaggeration. The soccer pitch is characterized by huge craters, waiting to sprain an ankle, cow manure everywhere and plastic bottles strewn every which way. Not to mention the actual cows that stood on the sidelines – it was not clear which team they were cheering for). Who were the four young ‘lucky’ women that were chosen for our team? One of the skills we helped teach today was knitting. A member of our team, Susan Wallace, found herself reaching out to a young woman who struggled to pick up the skill. They sat alone for a bit, connecting over a ball of yarn, when one by one, the other three found their way to Susan. These are the moments of grace that we experience in Uganda. Simple yet profound connections that form the basis of relationships, that create communities that span time and distance and culture. And go a very long way to making a great soccer team.

The willingness to say yes for Susan came from that connection.

As much as she never wanted to see another soccer ball in her life, she said yes to those four young women. And what joy we found on that ‘field’. We were a ragtag bunch, and the Mzungus were out of breath for most of the game, but we managed to pull off a tie, much to the surprise of the other team (and ourselves). It was a chaotic, raucous, ridiculous display of courage, endurance, love and joy. And if we had a minute to think about it, we would see that we were in a place that cannot be imagined – between incomparable beauty of the mountains and forests, alongside inconceivable poverty and despair of the township – and yet we were joyous and united and intertwined by a common sport and friendly competition. It was a moment that none of us will ever forget (and I think the cows will remember it as well).

The Leg Ball pitch

We will go to sleep tonight a little bruised, certainly some sore muscles and skinned knees, but happy in new relationships and eager to see our friends tomorrow, transformed by a simple yet difficult choice to join in.

This is what the journey is all about – choosing to be faith in action, choosing to say yes, choosing the transformation that results from being alive in Christ and His word.

What choices will we have tomorrow? How will we be forever changed by them? I don’t think any of us will go on to soccer greatness, but we have been ignited by faith to say yes to whatever comes next, to find the courage within, whatever God’s plan.

– For the Bududa Mission Team, Kathleen Price and Kaylee Pratt