Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Friday, December 20, 2013
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sometimes I wonder why children have to endure so much suffering. They are purely innocent, yet they are forced to undergo an extreme amount of pain. When I reflect back on my childhood, I see I was very blessed to be born in the country and family I was. I sincerely cannot imagine facing even a small portion of what many of these Ugandan children face.
My biggest fears as a child were the dark, spiders, bears, and my house catching on fire. These children's biggest fears include hunger, bullets, death, being beaten, and having no place to live. As a child, I had everything I needed to go to school. In fact, I'll never forget the excitement I felt when it was time for "Back to School" shopping. In those days, I never had to think about being sent away from school. Now, as an adult, I see many of the children here don't even have a small notebook or a pencil or pen to take to school. I see and hear many children who have been sent away from school because they didn't have school uniforms, supplies, or couldn't pay school fees. (Actually it is almost a daily occurrence.) Additionally, I hear the orphans' stories about asking for these items from their extended relatives, who are acting as caregivers, only to receive abusive remarks such as "Go to the grave of your mother to get money for schooling." These children are left to beg from friends and others to receive or borrow one pen and notebook.
When I was punished as a child I deserved it, and it helped mold me into a better person. When many of these orphans are punished, it is often without a just cause and creates even more fear and pain in their hearts. As a child, I had daily chores to complete in order to teach me the value of having a good work ethic. Some of these Ugandan children are forced to do a large quantity of hard work every day, even before they go to school. As a result, they come to class late and very exhausted. Finally, when I was a child I remember laughing often and crying little. However, many of these orphaned children cry often and laugh little. The pain and sorrow is seen in their eyes, heard in their voice, and shown on their bodies. This cry for help is clearly communicated, and I cannot help but respond. It is my prayer that God will continue to use all of us to intervene in their situations and rescue many of these children.
Friday, June 11, 2010
My return to Kyenjojo has been both exciting and overwhelming. I cannot express the joy that filled my heart as I attended my first service in two and a half months at God's Care Church. As I looked at the faces of all of my friends and especially the children heard the familiar voices and African songs, witnessed their exuberant dancing, and felt the strong presence of the Lord, I could not fight back the tears. These tears were tears of jubilation. I was so thankful to be back! As I stood to address the people, my voice choked and the tears again flowed. I did not expect to feel such strong emotions, but I know they came from the deep love inside my heart for these people.
It is truly beautiful to see how God has connected my heart to these people who live so far from where I grew up. It is incomprehensible to me how strongly my heart is drawn to this area. Even the people in the hospital in Kampala expressed their amazement for my love for Kyenjojo. They would say, "You and Kyenjojo. You must really love that place." I do love this area with all of my heart. I truly can say of Kyenjojo, "There is no place like home," because "Home is where the heart is."
On the other hand, I shed tears of sorrow and pain as I looked at many of our children at God's Care Church and was again faced with their numerous needs. Although I have spent one and a half years living in Uganda, I can say that the suffering of the African people and children still astounds me. I really cannot imagine what daily life is like for them or how much pain they endure throughout their lifetimes. When you look at their faces, their clothes, their bodies, and especially their eyes, you can only imagine what they have been forced to endure by no choice of their own. As I have returned to work, the many challenges and needs of the Ugandan children and people are again brought before me. For example, just this week these issues have come up. 1. A 13-year-old girl had to miss school on Monday to go get AIDS medication for her very sick mother. She came requesting transport money so she could travel 9 miles to a nearby village where it was offered for free. 2. The same girl has received counseling to address her question, "What if my mother dies?" She has been advised that she will be the one to care for her four younger brothers and sisters when it happens so she will need to work very hard to grow food for the family. (There are no adults staying with the children other than the sick mother.) 3. A boy of 7 is caned because he hasn't been going to school. When further investigation is done to see why he doesn't want to attend school, it is discovered that the reason is because he is hungry. He said, "The only meal I eat is supper. When I wake up in the morning there is no food, and it is very hard to sit in school all day without eating." At least if I stay home, I can find some little food. (Him and his two brothers age two and five look for small sweet potatoes in their garden or steal some from nearby neighbors' gardens. The mother and grandmother are both gone throughout the day, leaving all of these children to care for themselves.) 3. One of our sponsored childrens' mother's has come to ask for help because she fears her house is going to fall down. (We have many families in this area in the same situation.) 4. An older woman came to our house this morning saying she has been chased from where she was living and has no place to stay.
God continues to break my heart for these people. I have asked God to help me never grow cold or indifferent to their needs. I don't want to get used to hearing or seeing these situations. I want to hurt each time because if I feel no pain, I may not move in compassion and may lose my passion to bring hope to this nation. God continues to answer my prayer, but he does it through various ways. Even during my illnesses in Kampala, I was once again challenged regarding the suffering of others. I look at Uganda through different eyes because of the circumstances I personally had to endure. (Sometimes I wonder if my illnesses are part of my compassion training.) In these eyes, there is some sense of empathy and understanding because I too have had to endure pain and illness. But the sympathy is even greater because I know in the midst of my pain, I at least was given the opportunity to be treated in a hospital and did not have to walk miles to receive this service. I could rest in a bed, not on a hard dirt floor. I could ride in a car to the hospital for delivery, not in a taxi, motorcycle, bicycle, or no vehicle at all.
As I drive or walk on Uganda's bumpy roads and/or wait in numerous traffic jams, I look at the people through unveiled eyes and think about them with a renewed mind and compassionate heart. I once again find myself fighting back the tears and having a renewed urgency to do all I can to alleviate the suffering of others. I may not be able to solve all of the problems of Uganda or give assistance to each needy person, but I am determined to improve the lives of all I can. I have wholeheartedly resolved to commit my life to give new life to others.