Sunday, August 10, 2014

A day of extremes

Last Saturday was another full day with some unexpected twists. As the day began I knew that we had some things scheduled, but I didn't really know what the day would hold. It turned out to be a day of celebrating life and seeing death, a day of welcoming some teenagers and young adults back to GSF and saying goodbye to others, a day of beginning to feel culturally competent and then realizing that I still have so much to learn. 

On Saturday mornings I usually have Luganda lessons. Luganda is the primary language in this area, although in our little village of Buundo there are people whose first languages are Lusoga, Luo, Kiswahili and Acholi. But since we live in the Baganda kingdom, Luganda is the primary language. During my lesson this Saturday I was not nearly as confused as I have been in previous weeks. I was really encouraged that I am getting some of this. 

After my lesson was over, I thought it would be good for Esther and I to walk up to visit our neighbors-to-be. Our house will be neighboring the village more closely than any of the other missionary homes currently do. This has provided us an opportunity to begin building relationships with several families in Buundo. Since these families speak very little English, I also get opportunities to practice conversing in Luganda. 

We walked up and visited with one family for a while. I went to greet another family, but the 5 year old son told me that they had gone. I didn't catch what he said they had gone for, but I saw him point. It was in the direction of our church, so Esther and I decided to walk through the village and visit with some more people. As we neared our church I saw a tarp and a tent set up at one house and many people sitting around. Usually that means either a wedding or a burial. I could tell as I approached that someone had died. My neighbor, Eseza, was there and came out to greet me. The young man who had died was the brother of someone who is working to build our house. They invited us to come sit with them. Eseza asked me to come inside the hut to see the Mama and sit with the women and the body. I didn't know what to do. I honestly didn't really want to go in there, but I didn't know what the cultural expectation was. I asked a few more questions and got the impression that I ought to go sit with them. So I left Esther outside and went in and sat with the women. I didn't know what to do or say. They showed me the body, and I told them that I was so sorry. I sat a while longer and prayed with them. Knowing that Esther was outside on her own, I told the women that I needed to get back to my daughter. As we walked away, I realized that I still have so much to learn about what to do in various situations. I wish I knew the language better so I could offer words of encouragement, but even if I knew the language, I'm not sure what I would say. I am praying that just by being there, I was able show a little bit of the love and compassion of Jesus to the family. 

As we returned, David was finishing his preparations for speaking at a conference that afternoon. Kids who grew up at Good Shepherd's Fold and are now in secondary school, vocational school, or university, all came back for a weekend of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. David spoke to the kids encouraging them about the "one another" passages in Scripture. 

While these kids were back for the weekend, some of the kids who live here now were preparing to go visit their extended family in the village. GSF tries to help the kids remain connected with family as much as possible. It is such a mixture of emotions as we say good bye to some of the kids for a couple of weeks. I know it is good for them to know their grandparents or uncles and aunts, but at the same time, they have begun to feel like family to us. I know that life in the village can be very hard. Please pray with us for these kids, not only for their health and safety, but also that they will be able to be a light in the places they go. I am so thankful for our Ugandan social worker who works with all of these families. 

Since some of the kids were planning to leave on Monday, we decided to celebrate Elijah's birthday Saturday night with the boys age 8 and up. Before they came we had homemade pizza as a family and gave Elijah his birthday present. He has been taking guitar lessons for quite a while and has been looking forward to the day when he might get his own guitar. I think we were as excited to give it to him as he was to receive it. 

After our family celebration, the boys started arriving. (Actually they came about an hour early, but we told them that it was not yet time. They returned exactly on time. I guess if the activity involves birthday cake, boys will be early or on-time.) They boys all had a good time eating cake, running around planning tag type games in the dark, dumping water on the birthday boy and playing spoons. They all seemed to have a great time together. Here they are at the table waiting for the cake. 

At the end of the day, I was definitely exhausted, but thankful for the many opportunities God brought throughout the day. It is my prayer that as I continue to learn and grow, I will be able to demonstrate the love of God to those in my own family, to those here at Good Shepherd's Fold and to those who are our neighbors in Buundo village. I certainly don't love perfectly, but I am thankful that God does! I hope you will remember His great love for you in Jesus and reflect that love to those in your life, wherever He has called you to live. 

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