Just shortly after you get into Jinja, there's a dirt road, lined with gated houses. One of them is stately, with carved details. Dru and Asher Collie -- the founders of Sole Hope -- tell us that the home was built for the richest family in Uganda, the Madvahnis, who own much of the sugar plantations and real estate in Uganda.
They built the house in the 1970s and has seven bedrooms, high ceilings and unusual details -- like an enormous gold tub and carved, circular doorways. Where it could be gaudy, it's comfortable. Asher has filled the home with art, couches and chairs to sink into, reclaimed wood tables to reflect at, books lining the shelves to read. It's a haven.
Asher and Dru didn't originally plan to rent the house; they were looking for their own home but decided seven bedrooms was more than they needed. Instead, they turned it into a guesthouse -- a place for families who pass through when they adopt, for other NGO and outreach groups -- and for the next several days, for us.
On the property is an additional building, where shoemakers and tailors work. There's another little apartment where Ugandan families stay while they receive treatment, and some times, people who just need a place to stay. Like 12-year-old Ivan, whose family abandoned him. He's currently running around the yard with the Collie's 5-year-old son, Asa. They're laughing about something. Boy humor, the same everywhere.
We've only been here a few hours, but I feel at home. I'm overwhelmed and my tired brain is barely processing what day it is (I think it's Wednesday) but I'm comforted by the hospitality. The hospitality the Collies offer, the hospitality I feel in this home, the hospitality that has been extended by the Ugandans I've met -- Betty who cooked our meal, Diana who chatted with me in the kitchen. Diana makes earrings and I told her about my etsy shop.
God calls us to be hospitable, gracious and to be honest, I'm not always the best at it. Simply by being here, I am learning from Ugandans, from the Collies, about what it means to drop everything and make them feel at home.
This is just day one of my blog trip with Sole Hope. You can learn more about what they do here and follow our trip on bloghope.org.
and read the posts of the other bloggers on the trip: