Yesterday morning I was invited to give a short presentation to an adult class at church about what God is doing through our family for the orphanage in Uganda. This group has shown interest in gathering supplies for our trip so I asked for chewable vitamins. Unfortunately, the children at the orphanage are showing signs of nutrition deficiencies and until we can get their diet to be ideal we are wise to supplement with vitamins. Every time I go to Costco I drop a jar in my basket for the kids.
Each time I share the story I am struck by how amazing it is that so much has been accomplished in such a short time. And we are just getting started. While I spoke about the kids and showed photos the one thing that chokes me up every time is how their immediate response to the blessings that have fallen on them is to raise their arms up high, drop their heads, and break into a symphony of murmurings and prayer thanking God who answered cries for rescue.
It is valuable for me to remember how feverishly and desperately they have cried to God to help them so they would no longer have to sleep on the hard ground with a growling belly or waste their days hanging around when they wanted to be in school. They are just children and there are so many heavy burdens on their slim shoulders.
I think of my own casual prayers. When was the last time I cried out to God desperate for help? My life is so comfortable that if I feel pushed to my edge I have a smorgasbord of distractions and pleasures to choose from so I can ease my anguish. I can escape for a ride on my bike, delve deep into a good book, jump in the pool, snuggle my dog (who is a compassionate listener), do a craft and get lost in the pleasure of creativity, have an ice cream, eat chocolate, and I can go shopping or visit a friend. The list goes on.
If I had nothing wouldn’t I be face to face with God all the time?
Shouldn’t I be?
I am learning from these children. What I need is to recognize when I’m replacing an opportunity for prayer with the distraction of pleasure. I don’t think pleasure is wrong, but if I use it to ease pain or avoid a problem and don’t first talk with God about it and let His wisdom make me feel better, then perhaps yes I’m using pleasure the wrong way. I’d like to delay the use of my pleasures for more appropriate timing and feel the intimacy with God in my times of distress, need or uncertainty.
Later in the afternoon at church there was a luncheon for the single moms and I visited their children in the gym while the moms enjoyed adult time. I shared the story of what life is like at the orphanage for children their age. It was the first time I spoke to children about the orphanage in Uganda. It was fascinating for me to help them imagine what life would be like there. I could see them feel the discomfort of it all. They had good questions. Finally one little boy said, “I think you should help them!”. I said, I think you are right and so we are, and so can you. We gave the children paper and markers and asked them to write letters and draw pictures for the children so I can bring them with me in June. I promised to take photos of the kids receiving their letters so they could see. One little boy decided they needed a toy so he formed his note into a paper airplane. I LOVED THAT.
I think I’m going to try and talk to children about the orphanage more often. And as soon as I can breathe in my life I’m going to settle in and write a children’s book to inspire children and open their eyes to life in Uganda. (and won’t that be a good fundraiser for Kirabo Seeds? I think so.)