It was Saturday, so Phiona and Robert loaded the children into the van and toaok thaem to the land we have bought nearby. There’s a man who lives in a small shack on this land, and earns a small salary to clear it, dig, plant and harvest for us. His name is George.
We want the children to participate in working the land, so they don’t forget a significant ingredient in their heritage. If you are African, you know how to grow your own food. And we want to keep these children African, and not westernize them with all our technologies.
Back in March of this year we purchased this land so we could build a home for them. It is in an up and coming area on the outskirts of Kampala, and a road is planned to be built that will go straight to the Entebbe airport. This is a good location. I had a clear vision in my mind of how we would use this land, and it was my ideal for creating a big family… A boys dorm, and a girl’s dorm…the mama’s huts….the kitchen hut…. A meeting pavilion… a play ground….land for growing food and keeping live stock such as chickens, goats, and pigs…maybe even a small hut for me to stay in when I come….
Our friends own a lot of land nearby and when we bought this land for the orphans, I trusted him about the quality and value of the land. When I saw it myself it was back in March, during the dry season. When I returned in June and Craig saw it for the first time, our faces fell. It is a swamp. It is our swamp. We engaged land valuers to give us an educated report on the actual value and condition of this land. The deadly blow: it is not suitable for building. Every time it rains it will flood.
The disappointment in this realization was heavy for us. We bought this land to build a home for orphaned children. We rented an unsuitable house temporarily hoping we could build for the children, but all talk about building on that land halted when we realized we bought a swamp. Now we are going to have to rent a better house for them. I’ve brought many items home from Uganda to sell, and this is how we plan to pay rent for much longer than we thought we would. We need a house that has room for Robert, and Phiona to have a place to stay. We would also like to have five more children come live with us, sooner rather than later. For now, they are in a small crowded home with no yard for them to play.
I know I am as good as saying I’m an idiot for buying a swamp in Africa. Believe me, I have lashed myself a hundred times or more. I trusted our friends who were buying at the same time and assured us of the excellent quality and value of the land. My mistake, the big one that gets me in so much fire as we strive to work in Uganda: I trusted someone who got close to me. I’ve been told and warned by Ugandans, you must question why someone wants to be your friend. How sad is that?
So now what do we do? We will use the land for what it is good for: agriculture. Maybe we can grow enough food on it to not only feed our group, but also sell some in the market. We can teach the children about earning and saving. We can teach them to set goals, plan, and practice self-control with money. If they can learn to manage money well, it will be a great accomplishment for us.
It’s critically important that we teach the children how to respect what God gives us, without comparing it to what God gives others. The essence of contentment is to actually want what you have, and be thankful. I don’t think most people know contentment. I hope and pray we can direct these children to grow up knowing contentment and give God thanks for their many blessings with all their hearts and souls.
The thieves in this world see what others have, and they want it too, so they scheme to take it. Rather than working hard and making a plan on how to earn it, they go after it. Rather than accepting they cannot have more than what they have been given, they scheme to steal what they want. Well, that’s criminal, animalistic behavior. It’s a sin. Check in the Ten Commandments, God has a lot to say about this selfishness.
Here’s our challenge. Just as here in America while I try to teach my children to eat healthy we see everyone everywhere eating all they want of all the food that is not good for them. When everyone else is killing themselves with the fork, it makes it harder to raise health conscious kids. In Uganda they will see everyone they know scheming to get something without working for it. Our children will have to learn to go against the flow of their social current. Only the strength of God in them will get them through those rough waters. But with God ANYTHING is possible.
Phiona said that the children absolutely enjoyed participating in growing their own food and they are going to go spend some time every weekend working on the land together. I think she’s making a good plan to keep these children humble and grateful. And we will do our best to cultivate contentment in the gardens of their hearts and souls.