While we visited the location where the new school was being built, we kept greeting people who lived nearby. This woman walked up and talked with us and I got a shot of her with one of the men in our group of travelers, Ted. The way he greeted this woman is how he greets everyone and he was a blessing to all of us on this trip as we watched his interaction with the Ugandan people. Having been to Uganda before, he helped give context to what we were experiencing, but also let us experience Uganda in our own way too. The woman was incredibly warm, like most people that approached us. She has so little, but seems to have everything she needs to be thankful, to be smiling, and to be so gracious to strangers.
Ted lives a life of faith. He steps into their culture more than most of us, eating what they eat while some of us ate the safer rice & curry or pizza, and always open to any experience, smiling with overflowing compassion and love for the sweet people there.
On our second night in Uganda, knowing there were several days and nights left and being overwhelmed with what I saw, I felt a sadness that I was feeling a sense of void, being closed off or even an unwillingness to truly do “anything” God asked of me. Praying, I just asked for courage, and God gave me sleep. But in the morning, God gave me Ted.
Without knowing, Ted invited me to sit across from him, and began sharing his life, his family, and how his children respond to his life of being poured out for Christ. He didn’t say it that way, but it’s what I heard, and it’s the truth of his life. What he said, I needed to hear. The anticipation and joy of being there literally began returning as he helped remind me of the eternal value of living a life of faith can have on us and our kids. As he spoke, I again remembered my tendency to consider my children, and allow that to make me question our plans of traveling and being open to anywhere God wants us. We talked about what it is we are hoping for in our children and who we are trying to raise them to be. Not good citizens, but disciples that love Jesus, and love others. Ted and his family have invited other children to live with them in and among their own children. He took in a young boy 9 years old after surviving a ritual by a witch doctor in Uganda. He made this little boy part of his family, and brought him back to Uganda on the plane with us. Saying goodbye must have been difficult. After 6 months or more, this little boy calls him Dad, and Ted answers.
I think part of my occasional hesitancy is that until we can love other children like our own, our only option is to continue chasing Jesus and as our hearts look more like His we’ll grow. In the meantime, we watch people like Ted, who are already living this out. Abide in Him and He’ll Abide in You. Do the next right thing He asks of you, and trust your children in His hands knowing He loves them more than we can. Teaching them to pray for these people, and asking God to make their hearts more like His is my recurring prayer.
Thankful for the Holy Spirit’s role in that conversation that day, and how He loved me enough to bring the right person at the right time, to give a glimpse of himself and remind me of the journey I’m on, and the place I want my family to be. Remembering Uganda and Ted today.