I have been trying to see God’s lessons in everything, big and small. The following are several unrelated stories and thoughts from the past couple days.. And I am trying to make sense of the lessons…
It has been particularly hot here recently. It is supposed to be rainy season, but the rain won’t come. This makes for extra sticky sweaty days. On one of these days when I was feeling especially nasty (think sweating profusely in the middle of all the swirling red dust…) and grace had spit up me twice, I pulled into the gas station. The attendant looked at me and exclaimed, “Wow! You are so beautiful; your skin is glowing!” “Ha, It’s sweat,” was my unconvinced reply. “You have some really beautiful sweat,” she said, as we pulled away. When you live in Africa, or maybe when you are the mom of fourteen children, moments when you actually feel beautiful can be hard to come by. I feel on many days that I am radiating God’s love, but there are few days that I actually think that I look radiant. Not that God cares what I look like, but as a human and as a woman, sometimes I do wish to look nice.
Lesson: God cares about my feelings, even the petty ones like caring to look pretty, so He has someone tell me that my sweat is beautiful. Really, God has created and clothed the lilies of the fields, how much more will He take care of me!? Through this dear sweet woman at the gas station God reminded be how beautiful I am, we all are, to Him, after all, we were created in HIS OWN IMAGE. And He looks at me, at you, in all our sweat and dirt and brokenness and says, I CHOOSE YOU. You are BEAUTIFUL.
Yesterday, my sweet daughter Margaret, the most gentle and humble of all 14 of my children, beat up our neighbor, who happens to be one of her best friends. I was making lunch when Oliver, the little girl, and her mother came into the gate. The woman started shouting, “You daughter punched my daughter!” and then she left, leaving Oliver in our yard. I called Margaret, Agnes, and Hellen (all were accused of being involved) out into the yard. As we all talked with Oliver, the whole story came out. Oliver had been making fun of Agnes and Hellen for having a white mom. Her exact words were actually, “Your mom is white so you eat fish. You are going to get fat!” (At this point I walked away from our circle, pretending to be seriously upset, but actually resisting the urge to laugh.) After I composed myself I came back and explained to Oliver that since these girls were her friends, and their “white mom” happens to be in charge of the sponsorship program that pays her school fees, she needs to be careful to choose kind words. I explained to my children (though it seems Margaret was the only one involved in the actual hitting) that no matter what people say to them, as long as they are not being physically hurt, they must not hit their friends. We had a group hug and invited Oliver in for lunch, ironically, we were actually having fish. After Oliver left, our whole family had a talk about how we are all going to have to endure some teasing because of our family. Children often say mean things to my kids because they have a white mother. I explained to them that in America and here people often say ignorant and rude things to me because I have many children from many different tribes and cultures. We talked about how we have a choice. We live together as a family and sometimes hear rude remarks that we can choose to ignore, or we don’t live together as a family and then we won’t have to hear the mean words. It is no choice, we choose our family, our family from many different tribes and cultures and countries and colors. Sometimes its tough, but we wouldn’t trade it.
Lesson: Jesus knows that we are a family. A REAL family, and He doesn’t see our color. Beside, in Heaven I am going to be black, I have already asked God for it.
Another lesson: Parenting is sometimes tough. Parenting is almost always hilarious.
I went to visit Sumini’s parents a few days ago and found her mother crying. When I asked what was wrong, she told me a horrific story of her neighbor who had killed his step-son, cut off his head, and sold it to the witch doctor for a little more than one hundred dollars. We cried together. Mama Sarah, who a few months ago was not a Christian, pulled out her Bible and told me how thankful she was that God had moved her children so that they did not have to witness this.
Lesson: Satan is not a fan of Christ winning this beautiful nation. Christ will win anyway.
I saw jjajja Nakibuuka today. She is the village leper. Her fingers and toes are missing. Everyone in the village thinks she is crazy because she burnt her own house down in order to live in the bush. She has no possessions, but lives completely on the land, by faith. Every time she sees me, she has one thing to say: “God is good and He is coming back.” She says it over and over. “God is good and He is coming back.” She believes it, and she lives it. She has nothing on this earth, she is fully prepared for Jesus to come and take her home. And they call her crazy. If this woman is crazy, I think that we could all use to be a little crazier. I ask God often as I pray for jjajja Nakibuuka, why He doesn’t heal her wounds. I know that He can. Today it hit me. My faulty, shaky faith has to sometimes see it. I need to see the lame walk. Jjajja Nakibuuka doesn’t need a miracle, because she already knows. God loves me enough and desires my heart enough to help me see; Jjajja Nakibuuka already sees. Her body may be broken but her heart is full. Jesus says “Now you believe because you have seen signs and miracles. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Lesson: Open your eyes. God is good and He is coming back.
I have really missed Ben lately. It is undoubtedly Celine Dion’s fault. Thanks to wonderful donors like you, Amazima Ministries has recently purchased a van. Our van is such a blessing. It enables us to give out over 1,800 pounds of food to over 1,500 children. This is a very good teaching tool when learning the story of the Loaves and Fishes. It also enables us to all go to church together as a family which is truly wonderful. My point: Celine Dion is extremely popular in Africa. In town, she can always be heard coming from one market stand’s radio or another. In the car, Celine is always on every radio station, often we come upon a Celine Dion marathon where she sings all of the songs she has ever written. Don’t get me wrong, I love some good Celine. I love to crank it up loud and sing it all the way to town with Grace and Jane dancing in the back. I guess when I was eight though, I did not realize that Celine Dion is ALWAYS singing about someone she is so desperately in love with. Such longing, such agony as she is away from her lover. It does usually make me miss having a boyfriend to cuddle. But once again, even in these little things I am trying to see the lesson. I think that the way Celine Dion feels about her lover is the way God must feel about the church, that in some ways seems to have strayed so far from Him. I think he allows me to really miss Ben to get a tiny glimpse of what His heart must feel as the church strays farther into Religion and away from the heart of God, that is the impoverished, unwanted of the world.
Lesson: Everything can teach you something. God so deeply, passionately, desperately loves us. He so intensely longs for His lover, the Church, to come back to His teachings of giving everything they have to serve the poor, of living in community (see Acts 3). He wants to woo us, each one of us, as we are the Body that makes up the Church. I am still trying to get there, and it makes me feel special to know that He sings over me even more passionately than Celine Dion. That is pretty wonderful.
We are still learning. Thank you for your prayers.