Thursday, August 23, 2012

uganda: "is simple"

As I reflect back over my time in Uganda, the one theme that was consistent to me throughout was simplicity. Simplicity in so many ways. Simplicity in how these beautiful people live. Hard? You bet! But so basic. Each day, working to provide for that day. 1 change of clothes. A hut. Dirt floors. Work. Simple. Walking miles to get water. Basic needs everywhere we looked. It is simple to meet a need so basic. Clean drinking water. Knowledge of how to grow food, care for livestock, bake bread. Not easy, but simple. These are the simple needs we have the opportunity to meet in Pugwini village. Just the well that has been drilled is life changing! As is the daycare, the piggery, and whatever other projects are in the future for us to partner with this village in doing.

Well in Pugwini provided by Brentwood Church (Photo by Ben Young)

So this is a little fuzzy, but notice she is carrying a baby on her back, and the load on her head. Common sight.

All these photos were taken by my friend Meghan Mason. Thanks Meghan!

Meet Mama Florence:

This is an amazing woman. Full of wisdom, so perceptive, so in tune with the Holy Spirit. She provides spiritual discipleship, mentoring, family counseling, financial counseling, business counseling, just to name a few of her roles with Sports Outreach. On top of being a wife, mother of 4, and 5 months pregnant. Kind, gentle, but bold. After hearing stories from various Sports Outreach staff about her, one of my teammates asked her "Mama Florence, how do you have such faith?" She replied with 2 words, "Is simple". That was all.

As we worked in Pugwini village, as we visited a slum in Kampala, and an IDP camp (Internally Displaced Person camp, where people fled to during the war), over and over I was struck by the simplicity of the gospel. I could see Jesus here. In the childrens beautiful faces. So beautiful! I could clearly picture him walking from hut to hut. Healing. Loving. Laughing. Playing with the children. Sitting with the old men. Sitting at the well as women come to get water, saying "drink from me and you will never be thirsty again." Everywhere I looked I saw the face of Jesus reflected back to me.

Sam-loved this solemn little boy

So beautiful-loved this little girl

I miss this

Again, thanks Meghan for sharing your pics!

Such basic needs everywhere. Just staying alive is such work here few have the luxury of dreaming of what they will be, what they will do, in the future. They survived the war, but each day is still survival.

In stark contrast to the hopelessness in many peoples faces was the joy in those who knew Jesus. As Mama Florence put it "The only happy Ugandan family is the Christian one". Such joy! We had the privilege of worshiping on Sunday with the church at Koro farm (farm supported by Sports Outreach). What an amazing experience. I have rarely seen such joy! Dancing, singing, more dancing. These people don't have a lot, but yet they have so much more than I do. I long to be like them, not the other way around! All the "blessings" we have in our lives are more often distractions.

Dancing-such joy!

So beautiful (Thanks Ben Young for these pics)

I had the opportunity to share my testimony with a small group of women several days into our time in the village. I had been so nervous about sharing the gospel...crazy I know, having heard it my whole life! As I prayed and gave it to the Lord He gave me peace. Whatever opportunity would come, He would provide the words. His strength in my weakness. Its the ideal place to be at. My testimony is not exciting. I would even venture to say its boring compared to most. I never have felt like its enough, really. But I shared it, as they requested that we "testify" to each other, shared what the Lord has been doing in my heart the last year or so, and in my marriage. Simple, really. Then my interpreter said "this lady here would like to know Jesus". So simple. I had the privilege of praying with her to accept Christ. So humbling, that God allowed me to have this small part in her story. I did not lead her to the Lord, He had been drawing her and she was simply ready. And so gracious of Him that in my fear, my hesitation, He already had done the work. I don't know why I thought it would depend on me! Her name was Teresa, and I will never forget that moment. It started to thunder, lightning and downpour, and as we all scattered, they to shelter and us to our bus I missed the opportunity to take her picture. Its my biggest regret from the trip.

I can see clearly now why people are drawn to long term missions. I miss that clarity that we served with each day. Meeting needs that are so basic and in your face that its a no brainer to meet the ones you can. To give love where you can. To wash a childs face. To offer water. Work alongside them.You can't ignore it. Simply living the gospel each day.

Her name is Daisy. What a beautiful smile! (Thanks Ben Young for these pictures!)

Over and over throughout the week in the village, God spoke to my heart. Its so simple. Show love. Love is patient. Love is kind. It doesn't envy, doesn't boast, isn't proud. Its not self seeking. (1 Cor 13)  John 15:12-14 says "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you." Love is a command, not a suggestion. This is what it means to abide in Him: we are called to love by laying down our lives each day, depending on Christ daily to do so. We certainly can't do it on our own. Love is always asking the question "What is for the other's good?" instead of "what is for my good?" In my marriage, to my children, to my family, friends, and strangers. In Uganda, around the world, and at home. Is it easy? Heck no. Daily dying to ourselves is no cake walk. But simple? Absolutely. That is the life we are all invited to, and that is the life I want to live.