Some days we struggle to love and have compassion, and some days we miss the comforts of America, but every day we remember that we are so blessed. I don't mean blessed as in constantly-reminded-of-how-much-we-have blessed, but instead, God-is-here-with-us blessed.
Life in Karamoja right now is easy. Everyone has food. It has been raining for one week straight. We are enjoying a time of closeness as a family full of football (soccer, to you Americans), reading books, making swords, baking together, and watching movies. God has been speaking to us about different things like being better parents, humility, and loving the "one" in front of us (check out Katie Davis' new book, Kisses from Katie, to hear more about that!) Life, in general, has been so good.
And God is working.
This week Zacheriah, our gardener, baptized two people from his little house church in the river. Water in the river is, in itself, a miracle. Rain in the middle of November is not normal. Enough rain to actually dunk someone in is even more not-normal! We filled up two vehicles of people and headed down to the "river" to witness with these two men as they begin their new life in Christ. Both chose new names for themselves to symbolize this new life. One chose the name of Moses, and shared of his wish to lead his people to freedom, just as the Moses of the Bible. The second chose the name of John, and told us of his wish to proclaim the gospel in the wilderness of Karamoja, just as John the Baptist did in the wilderness of his time. Everyone sang and laughed as the men went under the muddy water and came back up, wet and smiling.
Later, at our house, we shared a meal of beans and posho and boiled sweet potatoes. We chatted about cultural differences and laughed about the strange things each of our cultures do. We talked more about the meaning of baptism, and another man expressed his desire to be baptized again (he was baptized as a baby). We thanked God, we washed our hands, and we went our separate ways. It was a blessed day.
The next day a man visits. He is so thin his clothes hang on him, and he bends under the weight of them as he coughs...and coughs...and coughs. He has had AIDS for ten years and is now being treated for TB. He has been sleeping out of doors in whatever shelter he can find. He has no family, no one at all to care about him. He is too sick to work but has a few strong days where he can earn a little money sweeping someone's yard. He is soft spoken and looks down when I ask him questions. He eats a small plate of rice and cabbage and sits with us as the rain comes down. Monks and I decide to try a few songs together, me on the piano, him on the guitar. We sing in Karimojong... anakinai Jesu, anakinai Jesu...give me Jesus....give me Jesus. We sing song after song. And the man sits....and smiles...and smiles...and smiles.
Later, after the rain stops, Kenneth takes him to find a hut to rent. He gets him settled in a house of his own. He tells him to come back to our house soon, and we will give him some easy work. They say goodbye and go their separate ways. It was another blessed day.
And the days come...one after another...blessed days full of family, friends, visitors, work, school, chores, babies, music, books, life. Life to the fullest. Blessed life. God is here, in this place.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10