Wednesday, April 8, 2009
OH! The faithfulness of our Lord!
For weeks, maybe even months, I have been feeling restless. I have felt God calling me somewhere, but I haven't had a clue where to go. I never doubted the feeling, I have become pretty good at seeking and hearing God's voice, but for weeks I have wondered in desperation, "God, you put me here. You gave me 13 children. You can't actually be asking me to move?" Still the wind whispers, GO. I can't sleep at night. Those closest to me have heard me say often recently, "God wants me to go somewhere... and I CAN'T find it!" Some mornings I load my babies into the car and just drive aimlessly down the dirt roads, waving at the children, praying that God would tell me where to stop. "Precious Lord, take my hand..." I pray. And as I am driving, His answer is always the same, "Go home, wait, wait." But I know it is out there, this place He has for me. I KNOW He is about to lead me somewhere and I am just so desperate to get there... oh, I am such a slow learner sometimes.
Simultaneously, I have felt very drawn to a certain group of people, a tribe called the Karamajongs. They are traditionally a nomadic tribe in Uganda, but today with most animals moved to game reservations and trees being cut down into timber and sold like crazy, they have simply become the people who make up the majority of Uganda's homeless. Much like homeless everywhere, they are shunned by most others. I have always loved and been intrigued by these people, buying the children food on the streets, giving them are old clothes and sometimes bringing them home for baths, though they don't speak Luganda or English so it is difficult to communicate.
A few months ago, I happened upon a little Karamajong girl I called Hannah (these people are so devalued by society and even their own parents that they are not even given names - can you imagine!?) Something stirred within me, and I asked Hannah if I could take her home. She took me deep into the forest, and guess what I found? A whole little village of Karamajong people. I was shocked (and I am not easily surprised these days). They are a truly different people, wearing mostly skins, eating any food they can find, sending their children to the streets to beg or pick through the trash. The adults in the village spend most of their time drunk, hunters by nature with no animals to hunt, they don;t know what else to do. Many times their children go days without finding something of substance in the trash, and thus days without food. I was in love. "Aha," I thought, "I will bring these people the Gospel." (DAD: skip the rest of this paragraph) So I went home, gathered my troops, and it was off into the jungle armed with Bibles and 200 pounds of rice and beans. Chaos ensued. It was NOT AT ALL like feeding the children in our program, who line up, say thanks, and move along. These people had never even heard of a line, let alone were they willing to make one. People were pushing and shoving and shouting. They were pushing on me so hard that I could hardly keep my balance. People were hitting me, calling me all sorts of wonderful names, and even threatening to cut off my head. I loaded all my children back into the van. It began to rain. As I continued serving, a drunk man stood next to me and began banging a plastic plate on my head. I kept serving my food and singing to my Jesus. But in the end, I left, tired, covered head to toe in mud, my heart feeling that I had done more harm than good. Since then I have been praying and praying that God would show me a better way to serve these people, but I just haven't had a clue what to do.
Anyway, call me dense, but until today, this event with the Karamajongs and God's calling me to go somewhere have remained completely unrelated in my mind. Until today.
As part of Amazima Ministries, I have 2 employees that go daily to different schools to teach Bible studies. This gives us a presence in many schools all around the area, helps us be the first to know when there are children in need, and above all, spreads Christ's love and truth to these precious little ones. We have an opening in our schedule, so this morning I went looking for a school to fill it. I went to four schools, all who were not interested in Bible study. As I reached the fifth, I decided it would be the last of the day. I had never visited this school, but only heard of it, it was way up on top of a hill in a place I didn't recognize. The headmaster was kind and excitedly accepted to have us come for Bible study, even asking if we could find time to come twice a week instead of just once. I agreed and turned to leave. Then I saw it. As I looked out over the hill, I looked straight into the little Karamajong village.
My heart raced. "What do you know about those people?" He looked at me disgusted. "They are filthy. They are uncivilized. They are the poorest poor people in all of Uganda!" Yes, I thought, God's heart. I began to explain to them how I loved these people, how I had tried to feed them. He looked at me like I was absolutely nuts, but then told me that he needed to introduce me to someone. He brought a Karamajong lady that I have met before in the village. I got chills as I shook Miss Rosemary's hand. She began to tell of how she had grown up in that same village, being sent to to the streets to collect trash. She was one of very few who had run away and found a way to go to school. She has now been teaching at this school for 10 years, but her heart longs to help her people. She told me that years ago when the government had still supplied food to all schools, she would go down into the valley, collect all the children she could find, and bring them up to the school for lunch. I got goosebumps (its funny, I live in one of the hottest place in the world and I am ALWAYS getting goosebumps! haha) "Yes," the Spirit whispered. I didn't know what to say, my mind was churning, "I have food," was about all I could get out.
The headmaster looked at me, and then turned His questioning face to the sky in disbelief. He and Miss Rosemary lead me to a room, a good sized one with cement walls and floor, 3 huge charcoal stoves, 3 huge pots, shelves and shelves of cups and plates and a tap with running water - my dream kitchen. "Wow, this is beautiful," I whispered. "You can have it." He said matter-of-factly. "WHAT?" "We don't use it; the government doesn't provide food anymore. If you want it, here you will be able to feed the children from the village and not have to be bothered by dangerous, drunken men. If you want the yard too, you can use it to sit and fellowship with them." I looked around. I looked up. My sweet sweet Lord. As the headmaster went back to his office, I talked to Rosemary excitedly about all we could do to keep these children off the streets, teaching them skills and teaching them about the Lord. She is currently looking for a nearby plat of land that we can teach them to grow food in, so that they will learn a skill and eventually have more than just what we are providing them. She is also going to help me hire some mothers from the village to cook. The school is about to break from spring holiday, but they willingly gave me the key to the kitchen, so we will begin having our program with the children twice a week, and then hopefully go to every day when school is back in and there are more teachers around to supervise. CAN YOU HEAR MY EXCITEMENT?? We have a beautiful place to teach these children the love and truth of Christ, and we will not only be able to feed them, but teach them to grow their own food as well!
I came home so re-energized, two weights lifted at once! I had found the place God wanted me to go and in the same breath I had found a way to feed the precious children I have been dreaming of, all without even looking! As I shared my excitement with Christine last night, she said, "Mom, I have been having dreams for weeks that children somewhere are hungry. I wanted to tell you, but instead I have been praying that God would show these children to you so that you can help them." Incredible. We sleep in rooms next to each other, spend days together. God had whispered the same things to our hearts without us even knowing. He is so faithful!
Saturday will be the first day that we feed the children, our "trial run". Rosemary thinks we should expect anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500. I am jumping out of my skin with excitement and at the same time I am flat on the floor in AWE of the Lord and His unending faithfulness to answer all that He has spoken to my heart and more. I am so thankful for this opportunity and we are so thankful for your prayers!