Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Lesson on Thanksgiving from Uganda

Saturday, 11/9/13:

The morning began walking the red dirt road from our compound at Hines Ugandan Ministries (HUM) to the Kamonkoli church.  This was such a special walk, because we were blessed by tiny little hands grabbing onto ours, as many sweet little children came to our sides, wanting our attention.  And we were more than happy to give it to them!  The little children and people are everywhere, always out by the roads or walking; no one sits inside.
At the church, our ears were blessed with Heavenly voices of hundreds of Ugandan children dancing and singing praises to Jesus, no reservations, just pure worship.  Then we had the honor of teaching/leading Awana’s with the children!  We taught 2 sessions with 4 groups in each session, and fed them lunch after the lesson, with a total of over 750 children attending by the end of the morning, amazing!  

Our lesson focus was on thankfulness and contentment and appreciating all that God had given us.  The most common response I heard from the children was “I’m thankful for Jesus dying for my sins” and “I’m thankful for life”.  The children are so appreciative of something as simple as a Dum-Dum lollipop (they call all candy “sweeties”).  Wow, it was a bit overwhelming and yet so wonderful to hear this from little children.  Made me stop and examine what I’m most thankful for in my own life…not just with my words, but by the story that my actions tell.  

Most of these kids live in a small dirt-floor hut, with their parents, or family, or maybe sponsor parents or an orphanage (if their family can’t afford to care for them or have passed away).  So, I didn’t hear one time that they were most thankful for their new toys or electronics or brand name clothing.  They are lucky to have one or a few outfits, shoes, or a meal that day.  Life and Jesus are all that some of them really have.

In the afternoon, we got a tour of the HUM property.  We got to see the new school they are building and future site of a medical clinic, and a well they have dug that will provide water to the complex there and also provides water to the nearby community.  There were children on the road outside the area, & when they saw us (Muzungu/white people) they ran to us, peering through a fence, smiling, waving and anxiously waiting for us to come out.  

One moment that will be forever etched into my memory was when the older woman with the children, appearing to be a grandma, bowed to her knees (a sign of respect in Uganda) as we approached, smiling & saying hello, then hugging us with such a genuine love.  I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing. What an amazing experience, to witness such an act of humility, honor, selflessness.  The bowing happened a lot today (first I’ve ever experienced something like this), from the youngest children to the elderly, from these people who tangibly have nothing (by American standards).

Most of the children, outside the property, were shoeless, had no pants, dirty clothing, runny noses, and were dirty from head to toe, yet they smiled at us, bowed, took our hands, and walked with us as far as we would go with them. We walked with them to the location of the running water & witnessed the children filling their jugs with water to carry back to their families, maybe for miles.  To see such poverty, with my own eyes, is beyond my explanation. Although I realize my own blessings, this experience brings a new perspective on how much I have to be thankful for, yet makes me realize even more, that having 'things' is not the source of joy or contentment.  It is only in Jesus. These people are so full of joy and are so unselfish and appreciative, and many of them only have Jesus.  

The scripture that came to mind from today’s experience is:  2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  I got to see this truth lived out today in the Ugandan people. Although many are lacking in the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, there is so much love, joy and selflessness that flows from them.  My prayer after today is “Lord, help me be even more content in all You have given to me & give love more freely, be less selfish, and show me what you want with my life and how I can help others by being your vessel.  Help me live out more of what I’ve seen in the people of Kamonkoli today.  Here I am Lord, make me more like Jesus.”






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