Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life in Uganda: Update Ten

Hi friends! Have made it safely to Liberia - will post about that soon! For now, here's a story from my small group Bible Study in Uganda. Over the course of the last ten years, I have led an absurd number of small groups. When these groups go well, it is one of my favorite parts of life. There have been some ridiculous groups, one when a girl put Vick's Vapor Rub right under her eyes and spent the rest of the group time running her head under the shower. In a few others, a few of the girls weren't speaking to each other, so the group turned into full on conflict resolution and many tears. 

With a decade of this madness under my belt, I thought I could handle any strange small group situations. If I have learned anything about Africa, it is just when you get cocky about not being easily shocked, She will throw another punch in your direction and knock you out if you aren't paying attention. It's not for the faint of heart. 

For the past few months, my friend Esther and I walked a few miles to a little mud hut on Tuesday afternoons to teach Bible Study. It is a beautiful path through the jungle, with a great view of the hills and scare-monkeys (instead of scare-crows) dotting the fields. 

inside the house - see the toothbrushes?
One day, we barely made it to the house before a huge rainstorm blew into the village. We squeezed inside the tiny mud hut and lit the kerosene lamp so we could continue the 
study. During the next hour, all kinds of critters wandered inside. Edith, who lives at the house, kept throwing a cat onto a big pile of stuff, trying to keep her two year old away from the cat. A chicken and her chick ran in squawking to get out of the rain. A variety of children were in and out and I kept bumping into the toothbrushes that were wedged between the mud bricks supporting the house. The metal door kept slamming shut,and at times the rain was coming down so hard we could not hear each other talk. Not exactly the ideal situation for a profound spiritual discussion. 

The women did not seem phased by any of this, so I attempted to proceed as if all of it was normal. I was doing a decent job keeping my cool until the next course of events. The two year old was not impressed that the kitty was being thrown away from him, and started screaming. His mom whipped out her boob and tried nursing him but he wasn't having it. Without skipping a beat, her friend took the child and also began nursing him, all while looking at me for the next question. This shed some new light on the phrase "it takes a whole village to raise a child." I attempted not to stare, but I'm not sure how successful I was. I was just hoping they got the memo that I didn't have any nursing babies, lest I be expected to join in on the circle of fun. 

Despite the crazy, it actually turned out to be one of the best discussions we had during my time there. Over the rushing sounds of the downpour, we talked about Psalm thirty-four, how the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, how He rescues us from our afflictions, and most importantly how He redeems our lives. As we all shared ways that God has changed us, it became a sweet time of friendship and sharing; talking about forgiveness and family conflict and war and hope. Although these women live in great poverty according to our standards, they were filled with joy and thankfulness to God as they named the ways He has changed them and provided for their families. 

As we walked back on the muddy path, I was laughing imagining the look on my face as I absorbed the menagerie of life happening in that tiny room. I was also humbled thinking of these wonderful people who were so eager to study their Bibles and so willing to learn. I was reminded once again that it isn't about how much we have that makes life worthwhile, it isn't our stuff that makes us happy, and that joy come easiest when we are focused on how much we have been forgiven. 

Edith and I on our last week together. She gave me this beautiful handmade basket and attempted to teach me how to be an African woman. I was mediocre at best. 

The whole crazy group on our last day. So much laughter.....will miss these women. 

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