Some Things I Love (and One I Don’t)
Let me begin with something I don’t love about blogging on a mission trip.
My function while here is often different from the roles of others, and often separates me from them during the course of the day. So I end up blogging at night about things I know, and all I really know are my own experiences during the day, my responses to situations, etc. So my blog seems to be (and sometimes is) all about me. But I am not on this trip alone, I am here with Team Uganda. So I have determined to focus a little each evening on other team members.
Tonight let me focus on some who have already gone. Greg, Debbie and Alissa Chambers were here for the first few days of the trip. Debbie is a physician, Greg a Physician Assistant, and Alissa a teacher. Before moving from PA to SC, Greg was a board member of Heart for Uganda. I loved watching what happened to him when we arrived in Kyenjojo. African record-keeping, whether it be medical records or accounting records, is…well, let’s just say it’s more lax than US standards. And for people like Greg (and I am people like Greg) that can drive us up a wall. I know that has been of concern to Greg. He wants patients treated well, and that means better medical records. He wants complete transparency in ministry, and that means better financial records. And so looking at numbers, looking at systems, looking at all the things we can look at in the US, the ministry here seems chaotic. And sometimes it really is. But when we pulled up on the children’s land; when we saw the dormitory; when we saw other buildings in progress; when we saw 41 happy and healthy children welcome us with song; when we saw patients receiving the best medical care available in this area; I also saw something else. I saw Greg’s heart turn to putty. He still wants better records, I’m sure. I do. But tucked away in the US, removed from what is really going on here, it’s easy to forget what this is all about. It’s not about numbers and charts, but about children, about transforming lives, and through those transformed lives, transforming a region.
Now let me tell you something that I love about Africa. The people here are much more open when they hear the good news about Jesus. Many come to receive prayer as part of their medical treatment. I spend a few minutes with each one. And I always tell them that while healing for our bodies is important, healing for our souls is even more important because our bodies live a short time but our souls live forever. And I ask them if they have put their trust in Jesus to forgive their sins and grant them eternal life. Most respond affirmatively, some very enthusiastically. But four times today the person responded negatively. Three of them gave a classically African answer—not “no,” but rather “not yet.” And when they respond that way, I simply ask if they are ready to commit their lives to the Lord. All three said “yes,” and I prayed with them to receive the Lord.
One young man replied that he was not yet ready. I asked what hindered him. He said, sincerely and humbly, “I do not understand the ways of God. I see so much hurt and suffering. I see greed. I see injustice. I do not understand why God allows this.” That led to a much longer conversation. I said that I did not understand the ways of God, either. His thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways are not our ways. But I knew the Biblical account that God had created everything good, including humans. That we had rebelled against Him and chosen our own way. That we, not God, had introduced pain and suffering and greed and injustice into the world. And so really he was not saying that he did not understand the ways of God, but that he did not understand the ways of man. For all these maladies cannot be blamed on God when it is us who does them. He nodded, as if he had never considered it this way. He promised to give it more thought. And so I prayed that he would be well in his body, and that God would guide his thoughts as he considered his need for salvation.
And lastl, but not least, I want to say how much I love my daughter Hope Marie. Today is her 18th birthday. On such a special day, she is unselfishly sharing her father with children halfway around the world. May her heavenly Father reward her for her sacrifice. Marie, I love you more than life itself. I always will. Don’t you ever forget that. And I am SO proud of you. You have grown into a beautiful young lady who, instead of struggling in school, is threatening to take me for a $20 bonus for straight A’s. I’m as proud of you as a father can be. You ROCK! Remember, I am your ever-loving Daddy. You are moving toward adulthood, but you will never be so old that you aren’t my daughter. I am sorry I missed the actual day, but have a special treat planned when I return. Happy birthday, Sweetheart.