We take our children to church every Sunday. Phiona says it is always a hectic morning getting everyone ready and in the van on time. Can you imagine getting 17 kids to church looking their best? They set out their clothes the night before There are four adults helping, but even so, that’s one big job. When we arrived at church Kira and Marvin wandered off with the children and then we realized we were separated. She wanted to find me so Paul walked her towards the adult tent, and Phiona and I went running towards the children’s tent. Somehow we missed each other and our sweet babies walked right into service alone to Craig’s horror. Kira has the nature that no one could possibly take her without it becoming an incredible scene. She’s a fighter and refuses to be touched by a stranger. Maybe if Cinderella appeared in her full blue gown and glass slippers Kira would agree to go to the castle. But everyone else will get a slap and an angry hiss. (that’s my girl…)
We always enjoy a delicious meal after church at the home. Julie begins preparing it the night before and Judith finishes it while we worship in church. We enjoyed a little nap after that. Sunday’s originally were given to us for restoration and relaxation, and here we take it. I think of how we spend our Sundays in America. We run around after church to catch up on one week before the next one begins. I’m beginning to wonder why we have such urgency with every single minute. That urgency with time doesn’t exist here. There’s a tangible ability to exist in each moment and enjoy it fully when I am in Uganda. If meeting a lost friend along the road causes a fifteen minute delay in arrival I can guarantee every Ugandan would agree being late was worth the joy of seeing the friend.
This culture and the way people live their lives here is a gift for me. I welcome the perspective it offers. I question my American attitudes and rigid boundaries as I am able to slow down here. Over the past few years I have begun to soften my edges and blend both cultures into who I am and what I do. I have more time for people, I care less about getting it all done today, I am more interested in the pleasure of food and sharing a meal than the measure of its affect on my body. I am learning to have full participation in each moment as they come rather than hurry to get to the next planned event. Mostly I am enjoying the community of living together and sharing life. I enjoy community at the barn when I am with other horse people. I don’t feel it in my neighborhood at all. I think the church works really hard to create community but it doesn’t come natural, and I’m not sure why. When community happens with mutual desire from all people involved it is an extraordinary experience. The people here truly want to be with other people. I’m not so sure that’s true in America any more. This culture teaches me so much about relationships in community because I hope to change and improve my relationships.
If we have visitors in Kampala with us we always go to Ndere. The evening show educates about Ugandan culture using dance, cultural instruments, and an entertaining Master of Ceremonies who is part comedian and part performer. The last time we brought all of the children it was rained out and we had to run into a small indoor theater and it just wasn’t the same. So we brought everyone again! I mostly enjoy seeing their faces and hearing their laughter as they enjoy the show.
Giving the children and staff the treat of an experience is more satisfying to me than giving them things. When they see this show they connect with their culture and celebrate what is fun and unique. They laughed and danced. In the middle of the show all children were welcomed to join the stage and dance. Then they were told a secret: “when mom and dad go out and leave you home they go dancing, so go get them and if they refuse begin to shout, if they still refuse get on the table and shout some more til they come down to the stage”. We all joined the children and danced with them. It was so much fun.
He asked our children with the microphone, “who brought you here tonight?” Many answered, “mom and dad”. When he brought the microphone close to our children they backed away from the answer and hid. The next day I asked them in a group meeting to explain to me why they hid. Some said they were afraid of the microphone, others said it was because they were afraid to admit they didn’t have parents. So we had a little talk about what God has done in their lives. I asked them to see that God says in his word, “a father to the fatherless a defender of widows”…”he sets the lonely in families”. (psalm 68:5) God knew you were lonely and at the same time we were led towards opening a children’s home. He orchestrated all the events and timing in the way only God can do and made a family for all of you. You should never be ashamed of what God has given you in comparison to what he has given other children. You were not forgotten and as he promised, he provided for you needs. Oh the smiles that spread across their faces were priceless to me.
I continued to explain to them, “The bible teaches that to whom much is given much is expected. That is why we encouraged you to go to the children in the village and share the teaching and resources you receive with them. You are meant to become leaders and we will practice leadership until it becomes natural and comfortable for you.”
I could see lights sparkle in their eyes as they perhaps understood for the first time the big picture of what is happening for them. God selected them for our home and has a purpose for their lives in response to what they are given. Their young faces wrestled to understand and grasp the full impact of this news. They had shy grateful smiles.
Angela, our oldest girl, demonstrated to us that she understands. She said, “when I grow up I want to be a doctor and I want to be a sponsor and help children.” Yes. Yes. Yes. Amena!