We sat at a restaurant last night celebrating Fathers Day for Todd. We had our six beautiful children with us but we also had another thirteen year old boy and a 24 year old young man join us. I sat talking with this young man, as he asked if today was Fathers Day. I responded with a yes. He just looked off into the distance. I asked him if he had talked to his dad today and he said no. As he shared his story of constant rejection from his father as he gew up and how that has led to his not talking to his father for the past three months. His father has many wives and more children then one could count so to speak. He has many brothers and sisters that are half siblings. His father another acholi man wrapped up in alcoh
olism, beating his mom, and leaving them with nothing most of the time. He shared a story of being sent home from school because there are no school fees for him to continue. He asks his father for the fees only to be told there isn’t any money. Then a little while later one of his step brothers comes in an asks the same thing and his father retreats to his room and returns with the money needed for that child to continue to go to school. He shares that sitting with our family makes him sad because he longs to have a father that will love him and take care of him…twenty four and longing for a father. His heart is breaking as he sits with our family and he reminds himself that he is okay because he doesn’t need anyone anyway, he can do it by himself. I gently remind him someday he will be the dad that he wanted to have and that he can choose to be there for his children and to love just one wife. He can make the change. He can start a new generation of hope, free for polygamy and alcoholism.
Then I listen to the laughter coming from Ronan, the young boy who we are currently housing while he heals from surgery. Just an hour before, as we drove down the road, his father passes us on his bike. He has been here once to see his son. Ronan pressed up against the back of the seat, hiding behind the tinted glass window, hoping his father doesn’t see him,he has been drinking again. His father may not have seen him, as they didn’t share a word nor a glance. I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything. Here he sits an hour l ater, laughing, telling jokes and being a kid. Seeing a different kind of family, not necessarily better but different. On the way home he laughs and walks in the door, crawls into bed, and is soon snoring in dreamland.
Then there is Brian, a young manx with a girlfriend and 7 month old baby girl. He sits on my couch watching our family do life together. He watches us laught together and struggle together as he is here quiet often. One day he is sitting on the couch an says, “I wish I could have grown up in a home like this. I wish you could have been my mom.” It isn’t our home and me that he wanted, it was the “home” we built as a family that he longed for.
Ronan, three to four years ago stepped on a pi
ece of glass. No one did anything about it. We noticed his foot swelling up an that he was really struggling to walk on it. We knew he had some kind of infection so we wanted him to go to the hospital. We tried to find his dad, he has been no where to be found. He hasn’t been around for days. His siblings were gone to school. So we waited til evening and asked his older sister if we could take him in. She told us we could so off we went to the hospital. This kid was so scared as to what would happen to him. An x-ray revealed that he had a piece of something in his foot which we later found to be glass. It had worked its way through all the tissue in his foot and had now hit the bone in his heel where it was trying to dig in. Surgery would be next for this sweet kid. He cried and buried his head in my arms as they gave him the local numbing medicine. All I could do was tell him how proud of him I was for how brave he was being as I rubbed the top of his head, tears rolling down my cheeks. In this culture they are programmed to not cry, but around us we always tell them it is okay. So cry he did. He was soon asleep as they started working on removing the glass. I sat there axing myself why I am sitting next to this amazing young boy instead of his father. I am still a relative stranger to this boy but here he sits next to me on a hospital bed. I cry. For him, for his father, for the brokeness, for the chance to be here. I am overwhelmed. As he wakes up he is volatile as he comes out of the meds, Todd takes one side, I take the other as we try to keep him safe as he wakes up. Each day we change his bandages, give him his medicine and love on him. He has absolutely blossomed. He is more confident and trusting, fun and loving. It goes to show what a little love can do. It is good to be the hands and feet of Jesus, even if you have to make sacrifices to do it.
Then there is Tereza, who has allowed a daughter of her husbands other wife to stay with her for the past few weeks. She has loved on her, fed her, she raises her little boy for her. She holds no grudge, harbours no bitterness. She loves, simply and beautifully. She calls her husband after church a few weeks ago to share the sermon with him. He has many wives, all have abandoned him because of struggles that he has with his health, lack of money and drinking. She is still praying for him, helping him and hoping for him. She loves and she has peace because she loves, she is free because she loves. She has so little , yet when someone asks for something she gives them out of the little she has. I ask her how she can give away the little she has. She replies with the most humbling answer..”How can I tell them I have nothing to give them, when I have some right here to give.” So many beautiful lessons learned from this woman of God.
The sun rises and sets at the same time every day here in Uganda. It is really one of the only things that you can count on to be consistent each and every day. We have learned here what it is to love, to share, to belong, to give. The greatest lesson I think I have learned is to be grateful for what you have instead of upset for what you don’t have. I am thankful when we have power, so many here have none at all. I could get upset because it is off more than its on but I chose to be excited when it is on because light is good and most don’t have light after the sunsets at 7pm. The food gets spoiled in the fridge when the power is out..but I am thankful we have a fridge that allows us to eat foods and drink milk that we couldn’t otherwise drink. There are very few local people in this town of 1 million that have refrigerators. We are blessed. When we are sick and we have to go to a local hospital, I am grateful for the hospital and that we can afford to go. In American most of the hospitals here wouldn’t be legal to operate, but here it is a blessing that they exist at all. It takes more faith in God as our healer to be here in Uganda because you realise that if something ever went really wrong the outcome would be much more devastating here. No 911, no ambulances, police if your lucky when you need them. I have realised that America too has it’s problems just like anywhere else, but we really don’t understand how blessed we are, how rich we are. We have indoor plumbing, toilets, running showers, food in our house to feed us for days and weeks, electricity, running water, jobs, housing, medical care, cars, good roads, and free schools.
I have HOPE in an amazing eternity with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. A hope that rests on
the bible verse Revelation 7:16, “Never again will they hunger, and never will they thirst; nor will the sun beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to fountains of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” I am excited to share this hope with those who are hurting and needy here in Uganda and any where else the Lord takes us.
I BELIEVE that even though we will have many troubles in this world we will fear not because Jesus has over come the world. I BELIEVE that God will use all things to the good of those who love Him. That He loves His children and seeks after those who are lost, and
nothing will separate us form the love we have in Christ Jesus. Even though I may see pain and suffering on the surface every where here God is using this for a tool to draw people unto Himself. I can be an encouragement to others by sharing what I know to be true about a God who has conquered all things that are evil and promises them a life of blessing in the world to come.
I am THANKFUL for the blessings that I have physically and spiritually. I have learned to not take for granted the physical blessings God has provided for me an my family. I have learned that physically rich doesn’t mean spiritually rich and that you and that you can be spiritual rich and have next to nothing physically. Thank you for showing us the depth of the riches that the people have hear who have believed on you as Lord and Saviour. That was we first came we only saw their poverty but now we have seen the riches of what they truly posses.
We pray for our nation and for those who have believed in their physical riches and talents over the riches of spiritual life that we have in Jesus. For though they believe they are rich they are poor. And those even though they may have nothing and live in physically poverty, they are rich beyond measure as children of God. Help us long for the true riches of the Kingdom of God over the physical riches that will one day lie in waste.
Poor but Rich, Dirty but Beautiful.