Friday August 5, 2011
We keep waiting for 2 days that are somewhat alike, but not today…
The day started bright and early with a full set of drums playing in the street outside our window at 4:50am. Then, the Muslim prayers ensued outside of our window. As part of Ramadan, they play the drums loud to awake everyone to eat before sunrise. Then, they have extra long prayers (75 minutes). Needless to say, on the first day that I wanted to sleep til 7:00, we had no luck.
After breakfast, I have to admit that the African bacteria apparently started going to work on me. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say my GI system is not working so well. So, bring on the Cipro. I don’t know if it was coincidence, but I felt much better within a couple of hours and hit the French fries (the first American food we have had) very hard at dinner.
We started the day of ministry at Pillars of Hope. They serve about 45 kids who are poor and have no resources. They perform their ministry with little to no resources themselves. They are teaching kids several trades, including sewing and making fabric scarves. Many of the kids were in school, so we only got to play with about 15 of them and we had limited time. But, they are great people and the men running the ministry are very gifted and have huge hearts.
After lunch it was on to Pastor Andrew and Coming Home Ministries. He and his church reach out to the poorest of the poor in Uganda. They are mostly single mothers and widows with absolutely nothing. We met at his church and then he divided us up into 4 teams and we headed out to their neighborhoods. This was a first for everyone and I have to admit, I was a little uneasy about being dropped off on the side of a road in Uganda to minister and spread God’s word. This was totally out of the box for me, but the feeling of discomfort is good for me and teaches me a lot about myself and my relationship with others and God.
We ended up walking along some railroad tracks and back into an area of what we at home would describe as the backwoods. If you imagine what the poorest of people in the world live like, you probably haven’t gone low enough. But, despite all of that, they were very happy to see us and are very proud people. They pulled out their best furniture for us and asked that we sat in them while they sat in the dirt. Their children knelt in front of us as they greeted us.
The group was made up of about 20 or so women of all ages and their young kids who were not school age yet. We sang songs with the kids, and then introduced ourselves, they introduced themselves and shared part of their life, and then we read scripture and prayed with them. We talked a little more and then purchased some beads and bags from them to help support their families. Their one request was bibles written in Ugandan. We promised to work on getting the women their own bibles before leaving the country.
I bonded with one women (she is a widow) and her 8 year old son, Jonathan. He and I hit it off very quickly and she said that he would like to go home with me. I told her she would be sad to see him go and we laughed a little bit (he is the youngest of 5, so she would be free!). She spoke very good English, so our conversation flowed easily. She expressed to me how much she appreciated our words of encouragement and for being such a positive role model for Jonathan, even if it was only for an hour or so. She explained how much her children miss having a father and how important it is for little ones to have fathers and she can’t give them that. I guess our Man Up mission is as important as we think it is.
While standing there, in the dirt, surrounded by shacks that somewhat resembled homes, among the women, children, chickens, and goats, I had another moment of “how did I end up here?” I never would have imagined several years ago that I would be doing what I’m doing, but I know that I am doing good things and this is very good for me (a true win-win).
One observation that I have made is that despite the conditions, these women were not looking for handouts (like we would expect to see in the US). They did not ask for the government or put their hands out. They asked to be closer to God and to help them gain skills and tools to get their children to school to break the cycle.
We finished the day with a trip to the Nile river. After all that we have seen, it was nice to do a little tourism. We took a boat ride at the Nile’s origin and relaxed on a gorgeous evening in Uganda. I got the opportunity to eat next to Pastor Andrew during dinner and learn more about his ministry and these women. His passion is contagious and I aspire someday be as devoted and dedicated to others as he is.
Tomorrow is supposed to be a little bit slower pace. We are spending the day playing at Canaans. I have my 2 friends, Stewart and Richard who don’t leave my side here, so I don’t know how slow the day will be. But, it promises to be a little bit predictable at least.
Bye for now.