Yesterday afternoon I was invited to a ladies’ group called Women of Hope. What a great name! Let me hopefully describe the afternoon to you. I arrived, thinking I was late. Oh, that’s right we are in Africa – gradually more women arrived. There was a time of singing in Lugandan and then prayer – African style which means everyone speaking at once. I sometimes try to sing with them when I can pick up words – I figure that way I will be able to say the words when I know what they mean. It also means that I feel involved. Then, there was a welcome and I was welcomed and introduced myself. That comprised the only English that was said publicly for the afternoon. Many of these women had had the opportunity to go to Kampala to a prayer gathering the previous Friday. There were great testimonies of what God had done, things like I was able to pray for the first time, God became real, I got a new song to sing that will be shared later. It obviously had been a great thing. Significantly, I was also made aware that a large number of them probably about 5 of the 25 that were there at this time had never been to Kampala before. Kampala is about one and a half hours away and there are taxi buses there all the time. In my terms it is a bit like living all your life in Bendigo and never having been to Melbourne ever.
Then, there was a sharing time and it was this time that was very significant. I had someone who translated some of what went on, and I was able to see different things because I couldn’t understand the language. To give you a little gist, they talked about how Jinja (the main town where we live) should not be in poverty but curses have been placed on it. That it should be a prosperous place but there is so much poverty. (as an aside, on Sunday we went for a bit of a drive and when you look at the beauty, the Source of the Nile and the wonderful climate and picturesque landscape we were thinking how this could be so much more). Then, there was some fiery stuff with a woman saying that women come and call themselves Woman of hope and then go and steal tomatoes. She had seen it. Someone else talked of thieving, that parents turn a blind eye to children coming home with things they have not bought. There was a passionate call for change, that people needed to stop sinning and things would change. This is the point that I would differ. It is terrible, though I am not going to judge. How could I, we always had food in the cupboard for the children and they never went to sleep hungry. What I would say though is, that if it is about sin then there would be more poverty. My heart went out to these women, desperately seeking for answers for change. Many of them are widows, others have husbands who are drunks and some have husbands that work. On the funny side, here are all these people living in worse conditions than I am here and I was the only one with dirty feet! For most of the afternoon I kept them hidden under my skirt – the advantage of sitting on the ground.
This experience, though not understanding a large amount of it, was very significant for me. I feel that this group will be important as I get to understand more of what it is like to be a mother, a wife and a woman in a village in Uganda. In some ways it is easier for me to see things differently when I see children. Seeing these women reminded me how fortunate I am, through nothing I did. I simply was born in Australia. Life is raw. I came home and then saw a lady that we had met when the team went to the nearby village. She is normally part of the Women of Hope (by the way, by the end there were about 45 women – normally there is more but the recent trip to Kampala reduced numbers.). This lady had taken us into her home, and we had prayed for her. Her son was ill but is well now – she had taken him for prayer in Kampala as well. So here she is outside the fence collecting water in a yellow jerry can. She was not embarrassed that this was what she was doing, it was just life. Just guessing it would be about 800 metres to her home from where I saw her and she would be taking the children and the jerry cans back with her. They weigh a ton. This is how she gets water.
Then, today I have been back to YWAM and been with lots of children. They are holding a program for three days for the children of these women. It was great and I feel like I am getting to be more part of the community as I was able to see quite a number of children I have met or had something to do with. Included in these was a young girl, maybe 16, who has been to church each Sunday we have been and has come all by herself. I spoke to her last Sunday and found out that she doesn’t go to school. She came and gave me a hug today. I wonder what her story is and look forward to hearing more.
There is so much potential for good things and I am praying that we will be part of bringing about good things for this nation. With most of the population of school age and under there is so much that could happen. Most people believe that education is the key. However, it has to have more than just results at school. I met a lady this morning whose son had done well but had not been able to go on to university and so she was not sure what the future holds. We cannot afford to have vain hope, it must be in the maker who knows how to make things different.
Sorry for the ramble – maybe this post is just for me to download.
and this is how you get the baby in place.
Well, with a prolonged power outage, this didn't get posted until now. I will also add some photos from the children's events today. The first few relate to the big event at YWAM and then the later to sharing the afternoon with all the village kids in the admin centre.