The highlight of the day in many ways was the three home visits. We met Rose, the site supervisor, (going up to the door in the picture) and two of the mentors there and went to the three homes. As you can see, the homes are very humble. There is just one small room, a curtain for a door. No indoor plumbing or cooking place with an open trench to carry the water away.
The first home was Godfrey. He is a pastor in a small church caring for his son, Caleb, and Ivan, a foster child, both Senior 4 which is the the equivalent of our high school. That is when everyone takes their exams. everything depends on your score and you only get one chance. If you do very well, there are scholarships to university and the possibility of a life style with such things as indoor plumbing if you graduate. If you pass, you can go to university, but you have to find your own funding. If you do not pass, then you are pretty much consigned to a life of poverty.
Godfrey kept expressing his gratitude for our visit. When he heard that his home was the first we ever visited, his gratitude exploded! From my American perspective, I have done nothing for him other than my contributions to Hope Alive! Africa (yes, you can do that too!). From his perspective I had honored him immensely.
I expressed blessing to him for being a father faithful to his son as well as other menâ€™s sons. I blessed him for working hard as a porter in a factory job that seems like virtual slave labor to me â€“ he was so grateful to have a job (paying perhaps $30 per month) so he could buy some food, charcoal to cook food, drinking water, and pay his rent (perhaps $12 per month). He left his wife in the village with another child so he could get an education for Caleb. Sherry and I told him of our family and he rejoiced with us. He kept laughing in joy as we talked.
We met Sarah and her daughter, Shamim in the second home. She was a bit embarrassed she had only one â€œchairâ€ for for Sherry to sit on. I joined the others on the reed mat on the floor. After a bit, her son, Sharif, arrived. As we told stories Rose asked if Sarah was ready to be saved. I was a bit taken aback by the question, but folk here are quite open to say they are not saved when talking with believers. Catharine joined Rose is speaking the gospel to Sarah, but she was not ready yet. I asked if she went to church somewhere and she said she was Catholic. We were a bit surprised since her children have Muslim names. That was from her husband who was gone. When we asked if she worked, she was a bit shamed to say she did not. She just does odd jobs any where she can to get money for rent and food. We prayed for her and departed. I asked if I could do a picture so I could pray for the family and found that she felt very honored that I wanted that.
As we approached Annetteâ€™s home, an actual house which she managed to acquire through hard work and some gifts from others, I saw four grave stones. They were her husband and three of his brothers, all dying of AIDS, the epidemic disease here. Annette had been a widow since 2002 and was HIV positive herself. She brought out two chairs and insisted that I join Sherry there while the others sat on mats on the grass. From the right are Peter, her cousin, Ben, the HA! mentor, Norman and Collins, her sons, Annette, Catharine, and Rose, the site supervisor.
Annette asked if we would like a soda. I was clueless as to what to say. Knowing her poverty, I was inclined to decline. Suspecting that her generosity was real, and taking some facial clues from Catharine and Rose, I accepted. Of course I wanted to whip out my wallet and pay but that would only despise her hospitality. She was very pleased to give us something. I still marvel how I measure everything in economic terms even though I cognitively know honor-shame, and hospitality. Then we had do figure out which soda to get. No way I was choosing Coke since that would be more expensive. They enjoyed explaining Ugandan sodas and we decided to have Fruitee.
Collins is a top student and also a gifted football player at position 8 (striker in soccer). I said the Portland Timbers needed him. It turns out some from their area are top professionals in Europe, UK, and America. There is real possibility that he could join them. But school is his first priority. Norman is the brilliant student, loving science especially. Annette glowed as we pulled the stories out of her sons. As in the other homes, we asked for prayer requests. I was struck that Annette asked for a very real gift: Life.
The family joined us as we walked to the car. I looked behind me to see this scene. I am very glad she a woman in the most dire straits is saved, marveling that she smiles and blesses everyone. I want to have her attitude of joy, generosity and hospitality in my position of richness and privilege.