On day two we hopped on the very appropriately looking foreign busmobile that we’ve been riding on. Our driver is named Moses. I’m not entirely sure if it’s because it’s a given name or rather because of his seeming ability to part the traffic with his driving. To be truthful, driving doesn’t quite describe what is going on. I believe the only phrase I could come up with is choreographed careening.
My friend Harry Thomas says that there is a rhythm to every country, to every culture he has visited. I believe the rhythm for this traffic could best be described as double time. I have just taken to not looking out the front window of the bus as it’ best that I don’t know what is going on.
So we made it to Masaka Town Uganda. It was just over 100 kilometers which as best I can tell from my Canadian Kilometer expert Cliff Skinner is somewhere around 70-80 miles. This took us well over 3 hours because of the stopping, starting, swerving to avoid chickens, goats, cows, petrol trucks and pedestrians as well as to miss the potholes that look rather like they were caused from earthquake damage.
We arrived at a facility that is home to 264 children sponsored by Compassion international. Melissa from Superchick who is on this trip met her sponsored child there for the first time. I got to see first hand a personal interaction that God ordained. This little child didn’t know her as a rock star in a Christian rock band. He knew her as his “sponsor”. More importantly he knew her as one that God supplied to save his life both physically and spiritually. It was very moving to see this happen.
I met another new friend today. His name is Joseph. Josephs is part of the Compassion Program here in Uganda. He is 9 years old and quite a handsome young man. He speaks little English with his mouth, but he says plenty with his eyes. Joseph lost his father when he was very young. He lives with his teen sister and his mother in a 2 room house that can best be described as a tool shed with windows and no tools. His mother is HIV positive and lives on borrowed time.
Through Compassion she made a commitment to faith in Christ. Joseph is fed and schooled in a facility that is 1 mile from his home and that he walks to every day all by himself. He’s a very mature boy. He would have to be. He has seen a lot of life in his 9 years.
Because His mother has HIV she was fired from her job and can not get another one. So Compassion has this cool program where they give her money to invest in a business for her family. She has chosen goats and seamstress. She makes about $200 a year. It’s not much but she is very industrious with every thing she has.
She showed us this cool little mound thing with a hole about the size of a dinner plate in the middle. Basically she has a method of putting manure, spoiled stuff, etc in that hole and it filters to the mound to create fertilizer for her garden. She also has a very genius method for catching run off water from the rain to help water.
(I personally thought this was a huge QVC product that could make her rich. It would be called “Manure in the Middle”. The host would fill it with poo and would say and now you set it, and… the audience would chant back “forget it”)
She smiled the entire time we were there. She was so grateful to the Lord. She had named her goats names like Hope, Peace and Grace. I can’t remember her pigs name but it was similar.
Her prayers were very simple. Too live long enough to see Joseph grow up. I would pray that too. But I would also be busy praying for more money, a bigger shack and more goats that I would give more biblical names. I think we prayed that for her anyway, maybe God will do that.
In the meantime she smiles. She is full of hope. She is full of Jesus. I took a picture of a scribbling that she wrote on her wall with chalk. It reads : “The Lord reigns, Let the earth rejoice” . Rejoice? Wow. I don’t remember her name, mostly because she said it 3-4 times and I couldn’t understand and I finally nodded, “oh yes, what a beautiful name” but I still didn’t understand. (for the record it was beautiful, I just couldn’t say it)
And so it is that the Joy of the Lord is her strength. What an amazing way to see it real live and in person. She didn’t have the American dream, and maybe God will have mercy on her and not ever allow her to. (especially the QVC part that I cooked up) Right there in the middle of abject poverty she had the one thing that alludes so many millions of Americans, the richest nation on the planet: Joy.
Jesus said blessed are the poor. I saw that today first hand. Academically I can’t get my mind wrapped around something that spiritually makes so much sense.
I’m thinking about words like “social justice” and what that actually means. What I’m really asking is whether or not that is something that God ever promised us to begin with. If He did, he sure had a funny way of showing it to guys like Joseph and Paul. He did promise us justice ultimately and perfectly. But that day hasn’t arrived yet.
It would seem that rather what He was crystal clear about was us being his hands and his feet. We are his tools of being “just” in this world.
Without that, he is after all just a Head of a Body with a lot of really great ideas and no implementation. It struck me today that if the entire Body of Christ got this and acted at once, we could make such a giant differece.
Forget all the Republican vs Democrat ideologies and them saving us. If ever there were a time for a third party it’s right now. It already exists. It’s called the church. It’s you and me.
The next time we sign the words to the song “let justice and praise, become my embrace” it will take on a whole new meaning for me. I pray it will for you too.