To be honest I have tried to restart a blog about a million times before this one and just didn’t have the energy or the will to actually post something that didn’t have my whole heart in it. I have become so numb to just posting what happens on a day to day basis and giving details about a day. I feel like we are close enough for me to get real in these posts. To talk about peoples’ lives and how people interact with one another.
This is how the week started and what I had written on Monday…
Well it is Monday morning and I am not sure where to begin. I want to tell you a little something about responsibility and conviction. I want to tell you why being a long term missionary in the midst of short term volunteers is hard. I want to share with you why God allows difficult individuals into your life that you end up being thankful for.
I am realizing slowly that when you are a long term volunteer your view begin to change slowly. I am not sure why but my frustrations come in waves and all at once. The honeymoon phase is long gone. A couple of weeks ago we were able to put on our first overnight with our youth in Zirobwe. It made for a long night but there was loud music, dancing, preaching, and LOTS of preaching of God’s word. We want to reach this community on a whole new level. Our short term volunteers are not able to see this goal as passionately as they haven’t seen the growth and the struggle that this community has gone through in the last year. Some people view a night like that loud and exhausting…and it was! But more than that is made an impact on that community that you could not replicate any other way.
It got me thinking about service and giving our heart to ministry and committing to being a part of something that is way bigger than me. Coming to Uganda with Empower A Child or any other organization you have to come with the mindset that you are coming to serve and not to be served. That coming here means sleeping on a concrete floor in a tent, three showers a week (a hot one if you are lucky), it means dirty hands and feet, it means foods that are not out first choice, cars that break down, late starts, late nights, and early mornings. I am not going to sugar coat it for you and I know I have said this a handful of times before but living here is not easy. “the sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning…”
The joy that comes from serving in ministry far surpasses any of the things listed above (among many others).
Then this week I had an interaction that encouraged me….
A couple weeks ago our visit lost an older gentleman, Aaron, who was about 80 years old. He loved to sing praise and worship songs and gift the team with a few eggs. He had a lame arm and his eyesight was not top notch. He would often sing for church but didn’t even have the strength to hold the microphone. He LOVED when we would visit his home and he would share his life with us. Porsche and I attended his funeral and it was a sad loss for the whole community I didn’t realize the impact that Aaron had made on so many different individuals. He was a blessing to so many and he has left an impression on my heart and the hearts of others. I have felt convicted since his lost to reach out to the older community members and see how we can learn from them. That is not the man I want to tell you about though.
This week, our team went out into the little nooks of the village that we are often to neglect because we don’t know them so well. We had a survey that went over basic things like where they fetch their water from, medical history, Education, and the most important one the social issues and challenges within the village. We went to many homes over the course of two days. Even though it was structured each home had something so different and unique to bring to the table and it was a blessing to get to know different individuals. When we got to Aarons home we found his neighbor across the dirt path that looked to be about the same age as Aaron. When we asked him about the social issues of the community he told us that disobedient children is the biggest social issue we have right now and that is what we need to work on as an organization to help improve.
Sylverio , born in 1935, in a small village in Kenya. Grew up with 15 brothers and sisters. His parents were farmers. Their biggest source of income was the cotton that they grew; they received 40 shillings (less than a penny) to every kilogram of cotton that they sold which could buy them quite a few things in the time that he was growing up in. When he was a child some Catholics from France came to his village and really fell in love with him and offered to take him and his mother to France to study. Men in Africa are supposed to be the ones to provide so Sylverio’s father refused them to go and the French men continued to find other children. His father became so enraged with Sylverio that he disowned him and told him not to return. For a long time he was travelling and sleeping in the forrest. He would get all kind of nightmares, and really felt a demonic presence in the area and said many nights that he slept with demons. When he would be going to sleep he could hear them bathing not too far away from where he was laying. The French men went looking for him and ended up finding him and taking him in. He stayed at the seminary with the Catholics for a number of years. There were two men that loved him and that would help take care of him. The older one ended up passing away and the other one got transferred to a different seminary so there was no one that would be around to take care of him and look out for him. By this time he was a young man. The French men gave him 50,000UGX shillings (like $20.00) which again he felt like he was a rich man. He chose not to return to his father’s village and settled in a different place. When he was about 35 Idi Amin came into office and all kind of politics came about and cause so much confusion within the country. A Ugandan president known as “The Butcher” and who is known for the cause of 300,000 deaths during his presidency. Sylverio told us that there were several really corrupt leaders around that time as well. He said that he has seen some of the most in humane treatments of individuals that are just unspeakable because of how horrible they were. During this time only 4 of his 15 brothers and sister survived these regimens. He told us at one point the soldiers would come in and just make people get onto their knees and they would pee on them and then shoot or kill them in any way that they would see fit. When he was younger and the soldiers were around for a different corrupt leader he would go into hiding in the bush when he came home he had to be so careful, he shared that if the door was left open you knew the soldiers had gone out but if the door was shut you had to be so careful because they could be in your home. He didn’t share much about his wife, but he made sure to tell us that he was a man of one ring and the importance of having one wife. They had three children and only one survived the rest had died. After some time his wife became adulterous and he couldn’t bring himself to forgive her and his daughter chose to side with the mother on all occasions and forget about her father. He now lives in the same village as his daughter but has no relationship with her. I asked if he would ever go to her and ask her why they can’t have that relationship and he posed the question to me if it was your daughter would you run after her and try to encourage her to love you? He told us that he could never be the one to go to her. On two separate occasions he has given his daughter a large sum of money and has heard no thanks in return. She even kept a death of one of his grandchildren and their burial hidden from him because of the anger she has. I think it is possible there is some resentment within his own heart. He has a few acres of Coffee that he sells on a commercial basis and gets one meal a day.
He has a quick wit and likes to challenge what you say. When we first arrived he was trying to teach a few phrases in Luganda and he was speaking a million miles an hour. We started talking about Luganda that we both know and at one point he asked me why I was arguing and that I should listen to what he has to say. When we asked him what advice he would give to us he told us to stop quarreling with eachother. Let things go and just wait for the Lord.
Sylverio accepted Christ into his life 5 months ago from the example that Aaron had and has a strong desire to learn more about God. I told him about the bible classes held at the church and he wants to learn. He said that is the only education that he wants to learn. I have so much to learn from this man but at the same time I have so much that I can help him learn in the spirit. So thankful to have a grandfather figure in my life now that wants to learn about me and what I do! I am so thankful the Lord let our paths cross.
It got me thinking about genuine love- I have written a blog about being genuine so you can reference that if you want to feel my heart on that one. But that God calls us to love one another in a genuine way. A true. Real. And authentic way.
So all of this to say. Don’t be discouraged in the ministry God has you in right now. Be patient. Don’t quarrel. Let the Lord direct your steps and reach out to those who have more wisdom then you. Accept correction and rebuke. Learn from others. Look for the best in every situation.