Reflections on our life and lessons in uganda
I was having a “hard” week two weeks ago. There were things just weighing on me (from hard ministry, to car troubles etc.) and I just was not in a place of being content. So by Friday night I was ready to burst. So you know what God did? He sent a bee to the pit latrine while I was using it, and I got chased around the pit latrine by an angry bee. I can only imagine the look on my face when I got back to the banda. I burst into tears as I told Jon what had just happened, and he stared at me for a second, and then just laughed. I was crying and laughing and realized how silly I was being by letting these non-issues get me down.
Let me tell you about this week. We went and visited Edisa and her family again. We had found two cheap stuffed animals and small Bible story books at another missionary’s moving sale. Two stuffed animals and two books cost us about $1.50 (that sounds like nothing to us right?) Well we took those small things to the kiddos as a sort of parting gift from us and Joe. I have never been so excited about a gift as those kids were for a small toy and book. Wille (the boy) was so stunned at first that he couldn’t even seem to understand. But once he did he was dancing and hugging us and his book. Kayesu (the little girl) was so excited she actually hugged us (that is a first). Two reasons for me telling you this story: 1- to say thank you to all of our supporters for making moments like this possible; 2- because it was an eye opening moment.
I have met folks here who have gone through things I couldn’t imagine, and they are smiling and celebrating life. We can fall out of being contented SO easily. And I have found that the less Jon and I own, the more I enjoy the little things in life. I don’t know that I can say it has anything (really) to do with material wealth or not, but with the fact that if I don’t have it all, I can’t rely on myself. If my mind isn’t consumed with the next iwatch (is that what it’s called?), my morning double super soy non-fat non-sugar vanilla chocomocha frappe, the nicest clothes, newest car, or best job, then what WILL I be consumed with? Why not Jesus? Why not His Word? Why not the lost souls walking around me each and every second? Why not the small blessings that I take for granted? If all I am doing is staring at my cellphone, I am going to miss the opportunity to comfort a crying child, or to hug a new friend, or to bless the security guy walking down the street.
God moved me to Africa for so many reasons, but I think one was to show me the joy of simplicity. In a world where we can have it all, it is easy to think we NEED it all. But I am learning that it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t have, except for the nearness of Jesus. If Jesus is my center then I can be as happy about a stuffed toy and a book as I could a new Porsche. I think this is what Paul understood when he said, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13). What does it matter what STUFF I have if we have Jesus? It was all the same to Paul so long as he could share the gospel with those around him.
1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” It is so easy to see this verse and be like ‘yea, the poor should be content’ or to see this verse in the context of trials, but it is hard to apply to me. Because I can say ‘I am content’ as I get rid of a perfectly good whatever for the upgraded whatever. But godliness with contentment means that we are content in Jesus, whether we are abased or abound, wealthy or poor. It means that I don’t need the next whatever just because I CAN have it. What if we as the church simplified and found as much joy in feeding the hungry as we do in the newest tech? Or in sitting with the downtrodden as we do watching movies? Or the feel of holding the hand of the sick as we do new leather seats? Whether we are being chased around a pit latrine by a bee or staying at a 5 star hotel, Jesus is enough. Jesus is all. And our hearts being in synch with His will bring true joy and contentment.
Ps- we finally got a good picture of Edisa! (She's one in the green dress) :)
Happy (belated) Mother's Day
This post is a few days late because the Internet has been put.
Happy Mother’s Day. I have wonderful mothers in my life: my mom, my sister, my grandmothers, women at church etc. My own mother always did a wonderful job of raising us. She was always supportive, nurturing, encouraging, loving, and so much more.
We have been talking a lot about what Godly womanhood and manhood entail in class, the role of fatherhood\motherhood, the family and so on. Now most of you know Jon and I have no children and don’t intend to have any in the near future (if ever).
Now, another story for you, we went to see Edisa this week. Her sister-in-law (who is married to Edisa’s brother) began to tell us some of their family’s troubles while I was drawing in the dirt with her kids. The brother and his wife are both HIV positive, and he is now refusing to take his medications. He seems to be depressed and not want to live, but it is hard to talk to him because not only do I not speak Luganda, but he is mute. So we talked with them on those things. His wife is ready to leave, but has no way to get out. She begged us for prayer and asked me what she should do repeatedly. Partway into the conversation, a new girl showed up who is around 11 or 12 years old. We found out after the talk that this girl’s twin brother had recently been bitten by a dog and had died of rabies. She had lived with her father and step-mother, but her step-mother was incredibly abusive toward her; so she ran away and is staying with Edisa’s family now. That was a heavy Wednesday.
What do these two things have to do with each other? Well, my heart broke on Wednesday. The hurt and sorrow of that family left me almost unable to breath. And I know that in a similar way to how my heart felt for that girl and her loss, my mother’s heart broke for every hurt and pain I’ve ever felt. This is God’s heart toward us. God is the perfect Father, but He also shares a mother’s heart toward us.
God just really kept pressing on my heart this week the need to be a mother. I’m not saying that I suddenly have a desire for children of my own. I am saying that God showed so clearly the need for women to step up. I have heard so many times the call for men in the church to be spiritual fathers, even if they aren’t biologically fathers. But that same call is needed for mothers. Women in the church, we are to be mothers. I am to have a mother’s heart as I walk beside Edisa’s family in hard time and in the laughs we share. I am to have a mother’s heart for the 80% of the Ugandan church that are CHILDREN. For the 50% of the population in this country that are under the age of 15. For my nieces and nephews, for the other women in my life. Last week I made the claim that if suffering doesn’t move us to action, then we don’t understand the cross of Christ. But I would also say that if suffering doesn’t move us to action, we don’t have a mother’s heart.
Titus 2 also gives the call for spiritual mothers in the church. Verses 3-6 are a call for older women to train the younger, to disciple them. What is a mother if not someone who disciples those entrusted to them? We need women willing to walk alongside the younger and train them up.
So to the mother’s out there who are loving your kids and raising them up, thank you. But my prayer is that I may have, we may have, a mother’s heart for those around us who aren’t our kids. That we would share God’s adoptive heart toward the lost and broken around us. That we would take on the challenge of training up our sisters in the church and build toward the Kingdom of God. Pray for Edisa and her family. And let’s love one another as Christ has loved us.