Monday, March 31, 2014

Holy Cow!

We have all heard the saying “Take the bull by the horns.”  Let me tell you in reality, that is terrifying thought.  Herds of cattle walk along the road, slow down traffic, graze in people front yards, this is a common sight here in Jinja. To be honest a sight that I am accustomed to seeing, but never quite used to.   This is where my story begins….

About two weeks ago our car broke down, very common here in Jinja as well.  I was on the phone with the mechanic describing the problem.  I was in front of our house, off the road, off the beaten trail and standing under a mango tree.  I heard cattle coming from behind me, not a big deal; remember this is a common occurrence here in Jinja. I had my back to the herd and was in the middle of explaining my vehicle problem to the mechanic.  All of the sudden I feel myself being pushed from behind, not a little push, not even a little shove.  A full on rapid forward movement, in fact my feet were skidding along the ground. As you can imagine I was shocked, having no idea what was going on and resisting with all my might to hold in the scream of a little girl that was welling up deep inside me. I looked down to see what in the world was going on.  To my shock, there were two giant horns coming out on each side of my waist.  The horns had to be at least 10 feet long.  Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but when you are being  pushed along and there are two enormous horns on either side of you they seem 10 feet long.

I’m not sure exactly what came out of my mouth screams, jumbled words, inaudible noises, but whatever it was it was much to the delight of the boda drivers across the street who were all laughing hysterically.  At this point all I could feel was my feet trying to gain traction on the ground and my bottom planted squarely on the head of the bull.  When I realized I was being pushed by this enormous beast, I literally jumped off of its head and slapped him between the eyes.  Now this seemed completely rational at the time, but as I ran behind the mango tree and contemplated my escape route, this giant beast of burden began stamping his foot and shaking his head at me.  Maybe the slap on the head was not my best plan, this seemed to anger him more than whatever it was I did to offend him originally.

 I had two thoughts, go up the mango tree or up and over the wall that is covered in razor wire.  This wire is super sharp, the 6 inch scar on my leg can attest to that.  I thought my best plan was to climb the mango tree. At this point the bull decided he had proven his point  and meandered back along the road. He left me frazzled, missing one shoe and in shock under the mango tree.  At this point, still not fully aware of what just happened I heard the mechanic on the other end of the phone “Mr. Jason, Mr. Jason are you ok?” I am not sure what I told him, but again this sent the boda drivers into uncontrollable laughter.

Retelling my frightening tale at home to my wife, expecting sympathy or a medal for heroism in the face of danger, do you know what I got?  Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Her only comment was wishing she had been able to capture the moment  on video. Surely we would have one big money on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

They say if you mess with the bull you get the horns……………well I am here to tell you sometimes even when you don’t mess with the bull you get the horns anyway. For the record I found my shoe and the five foot skid marks from my death defying encounter.

The next day we were driving into to town and I was able to find the same herd and get a picture of the terrifying beast.  I am pretty sure he was eyeing me down.  Sometimes I break into a cold sweat thinking of this giant black and white beast with huge black tipped horns.

Take the bull by the horns they say…………….I say that’s a bunch of bull.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Does Helping Help?

I want to piggy back off a blog written by our friend here in Uganda, Smooth Via.  The Via Family is working in Uganda doing amazing things for the Kingdom of God. You should really take the time to read his story "When Helping Helps", it will be uplifting to your day.

I totally agree with Smooth on this point, sometimes helping does help!  On the flip side sometimes “helping” does hurt.  It is all about empowerment of the people and what they do with the help you provide. Smooth’s example is a beautiful example of someone rising up and helping themselves and it inspired me to share this story. 

I want to introduce you to one of the Jajas in the village we are currently serving in.  She always greets us should be free through the local clinic. However, the love of money and the struggle for money has made the people at the clinic start charging her for medication that should be free.  For a one month supply of medication for the two girls they are asking 3,000 Shillings, roughly the equivalent of $2.50.  That is a large sum of money for someone struggling in the village.  The other problem she faces is transport to the clinic to pick up the medication.  The cost for a round trip is another 3,000 Shillings. In order to keep her granddaughters properly medicated, she has to somehow come up with 6,000 shillings.  She needs 5 bucks a month.  The simple answer would be to give her $5 dollars a month to get the medication she needs.  However, the solution for long term sustainability is not that simple.  Our ministry could easily give her $5 a month; I know a donor would be happy to know their support went directly to this sweet Jaja. with a smile and always sends us away with some sort of gift out of her garden when we visit.  She is currently struggling to take care of her two granddaughters who suffer from epilepsy. She is doing her very best to provide the medication they need to maintain a life without seizures.  The problem is getting the medication. The government is supposed to provide healthcare for the people of Uganda. The medication
The question is what happens to her granddaughters when we are not around anymore?  What if hard times strike and she needs that $5 for food in the village? The long term solution is to find a way for Jaja to help herself.   

God presented that solution on our last visit to the village. As we concluded our visit and time of prayer, we noticed smoke coming from an area beside Jaja’s house and a big pile of wood. She told us she was making charcoal to sell as a way to support her-self.  Bingo!  There was our solution.  God moved quickly in our prayer life today.  We could buy charcoal from Jaja, a big sack costs 30,000 shillings. A solution that benefits both of us, she supports herself and we have charcoal for cooking at home.  This is a way for us to help Jaja support herself, obtain medication for her granddaughters and empower herself.  She will not be dependent upon us for a monthly handout, but we are still finding a way to support her and to help take care of her granddaughters.

Helping is about helping in a beneficial way.  Helping in a way that benefits the people, while also empowering those same people in a way to help themselves.  It is about sharing and educating people who are generous enough to want to give and have the desire to make a difference in this world. When you partner those two things helping can be a very powerful thing. We should not be paralyzed by fear and not help; we should also not give blindly in our desire to help. There has to be a balance.   Helping someone in their time of need is a powerful thing and helping someone help themselves is even more powerful!

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  Matthew 25:40

Monday, March 3, 2014

A little red dirt

As we left the village, I looked at my kids and every one of them was covered in red dirt.  Their clothes, their shoes, their bodies and faces, all covered in red dirt…..

Driving into the Wakisi village, we planned to stop and check on the kids and make sure their Jaja had returned from Kenya (Blog post: Break my heart for what breaks Yours) After visiting for awhile we got ready to get back in the van and drive further into the village to the school, where we do the children’s outreach.  Just before we left, the ladies told Kari about a baby that had just been born across the road.  Never missing a chance to see a baby and check on a new mother, Kari and Hadlee went over to the new momma’s house. The lady greeted them in the front yard while doing all her laundry by hand.  She had just had the baby the day before with no assistance.  No hospital bed, no nurse, no doctor and definitely no epidural.  Just like so many other women in the village, she had her baby right there on the dirt floor of her hut.  Life goes on; the next day there was laundry to do and meals to cook.  As I saw this woman washing her clothes by hand I realized what strength and what resolve the people of the village have.  They have to, there is no choice.

These last few months God has been working on my heart, He has shown me that I do not have to have some program or well laid out plans to show His love.  I saw firsthand His love that day as my 5 year old daughter washed clothes in a basin and hung them out to dry.  I saw His love as my children ran through the village, through the banana plants having fun and just being kids. I saw His love as the village kids taught our kids to play a game with sticks and a tire.  I saw His love as Pierce played in the red dirt with his friends. I saw His love in a mother working hard to keep her family going only one day after having a baby.

James 1:22  “But prove yourself doers of the Word, and not merely hearers……

Know it, show it, live it!

As the title says, the kids were covered in “A little (ok a lot of) red dirt.  I could not have been happier and my heart could not have been fuller.