Doing the spiritual warfare training (resources here) with the World Venture missionaries (here) was an event Iâ€™d been looking forward to. We had met many of them already, enjoying the interactions with fascinating people. As I expected the session got deep fast with lots of interaction and immediate application. Of course tea and conversations followed with individuals asking very personal questions.
Sherry and I went to find Florence, the lady who is the care taker of the Hope Alive! Africa country office (in the background of the picture). We had enjoyed talking with her, seeing her delight in serving and making sure everything was clean and ready for use. As we shared stories of our children I was struck with the vast difference in lifestyle between rich Americans and a lady who lives in a slum. But we have a common love for children and Jesus.
We gave her a book mark, explaining that the wooden piece was the outline of our state of Oregon and the heart cut out in the middle was our commitment to love and pray for her. You would think we had given her the crown jewels! Then she knelt down in front of me and then in front of Sherry to express her gratitude. Fortunately Iâ€™d been warned so I didnâ€™t reach to lift her up to alleviate my discomfort.
We went to a home visit to see Shamila and her family. We were welcomed into her house warmly. I was taken aback to see a very drunk man laying in the front part of the tiny slum home. Then I remembered that her mother supported the family by being the dispenser of â€œhome brewâ€ for the people in the slum. There is a VERY strong pressure for young women to grant sexual favors to
men and to get pregnant. The narrative is â€œNo man will accept you as a wife until you prove you can bear children.â€ It is a formula for abuse. Since her whole life is spent in the immediate vicinity of drunk men, it is no surprise that Shamila got pregnant. That means she has to leave school. But unlike many others, Shamila had the resources of Hope Alive! to help and redemption work kicked in. She went to live with Carol, the site supervisor and her husband as she delivered. There she saw first hand what marriage and family can be. Revolutionary. She is taking a year to raise Nimungu Emanuel (Emma) and her sisterâ€™s 2 year old, Rebekah, while she is in police training for a year.
Shamila woke Emma up from his nap and of course I soon had him in my lap. He just stared at me as if to say â€œwhat is this strange creature holding me?â€ Even as I smiled and talked with him, I felt very much the mzungu (Swahili for someone who wanders without purpose / someone constantly on the move. Now it is the general word for white person, people without family, village, or tribe.) I just felt the outsider trying to understand how one lives successfully. Emma got some lunch from Shamila and soon was smiling and enjoying us playing with him.
We went to Roseâ€™s home which was back to back with Shamilaâ€™s. The difference was striking. Where Shamilaâ€™s was literally and metaphorically dark, Roseâ€™s was filled with light. The results of a gospel life in the extreme economic poverty of the slum was overshadowed with the hope of Jesus. Her son, Stephen, a Hope Alive! project graduate is working in a high tech job and supporting his family. Rose bubbled with joy as we talked. This is where Shamila can find good support as she raises the children and her Mother tries to make money selling mangos in the street so she can stop serving local brew.
We had supper with Jay and Kait. She did a a short term as a nurse with Hope Alive! and decided to give her life to serving in Uganda. Then she met Jay, a godly fun physician who wanted to marry her. â€œOnly if you come to Uganda,â€ she said. God overcame his initial lack of interest and they were married. Now his Indian ethnicity has given them wide open doors to work in this largely unreached powerful East African sub-community of professional and merchants. Listening to their story against the earlier time with Shamila highlighted the power of the gospel in the lowest and the highest strata’s of society.