Two Worlds, One Life

Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong and yet known that there is nowhere you belong more? When you look around, you see that you are right where you are supposed to be, and yet something inside you longs to be elsewhere. I have lived the last 10 years of my life in this paradox, belonging and yet still longing. In this adventure with BOH, I have had the privilege of traveling back and forth to Uganda 13 times. And in this journey, I have encountered incredible joy and tremendous sorrow. You see, living with one foot in the western world and the other in Sub-Saharan Africa is a gift, but it is also the hardest thing I have ever done. 

It is such a blessing to have family that is both American and Musoga. It is incredible to experience the beautiful simplicity of life in a village. It is a joy to celebrate the triumphs of graduations and profound successes of single moms overcoming poverty. It is such an inspiration to see hope overcome devastation and faith triumph over circumstance. It is so humbling to be loved and accepted just as you are no matter how similar or different you may be. It is such a gift to celebrate life in two different cultures and feel at home in both. But oh the heartache of having your heart in two places that are a million miles apart.

It has pained me to leave Uganda, not knowing if I would ever see loved ones again. It has hurt to leave behind family and friends for two months at a time, knowing that I would miss out on sweet moments I could never get back. It has killed me to be thousands of miles away when our students have experienced devastating tragedy. It has pulled at my heartstrings to have our women ask for help that I cannot give. And it has brought me to tears to know that there is tremendous brokenness for which I will never be the solution.

To give of yourself fully and completely in love, is to sacrifice self preservation of the heart. My heart is not my own, and as much as it hurts, I want to be broken for the things that matter in this life. When I went to Uganda for the first time, my heart was broken in the most beautiful way, and God has rearranged the pieces ever since so that I would have a deeper capacity to love that is not of myself. My heart may be broken, but it is also a more beautiful mosaic than the original edition it once was. The road to get here has been steep but I would traverse it a hundred times over to gain what I have along the way.

To all of you that have been a part of this journey, THANK YOU! Our victories in the battle against poverty have been made possible because you have been willing to journey this road with us. I can’t begin to tell you the encouragement this has brought us in the seasons when the mountain seemed too steep, or the road seemed too long. You have helped us to keep going. And you have been a part of the success we have seen these last 7 years at BOH! Your giving, prayers, and encouragement is not in vain, but rather it is fuel that has sustained us. Thank you for being a part of our story and the beautiful paradox of our two worlds!

Blog by Executive Director Natalie Ruiz


  • Susan Wadley

    Beautifully said, Natalie. I understand the push and pull of your heart. Bambalela, as they say in South Africa. Never Give Up.

  • Jubilee

    Beautiful, Natalie. And so real. Thank you for sharing your heart. The impact of your service is global: for communities in Uganda, and for those around the world who have the privilege of hearing your story.

  • Kara

    You are amazing, Nat for the sacrifice you’re willing to make to be a part of the Lords work in Uganda!

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