LOLAFRICA journey to Uganda

Glory to God, who's power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or Imagine....

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Location: Kalagala, Uganda

Monday, February 26, 2007

Imagine.... that you are 17 years old, both of your parents have are an orphan.
You have no home, you struggle to find food, you sometimes sleep on the cold, hard concrete of the city are utterly alone.
By some miracle and the generosity of strangers - you are chosen to be sponsored to complete your schooling! Hope is alive and you thrive at school...where you have a bed, clean drinking water, meals and stimulation for your mind. While at school it becomes obvious that you have been blessed with the gift of music and dancing! You are thankful to God for these talents and decide to nurture them, develop them and use them as a positive force in the write and write and sing and sing!
Time passes and you are happy... After three years at the school you find you have successfully are now an educated 20 year old - ready for the workforce! Unfortunately, your level of education is not enough to get you a job...and you will either have to go to university or start your own business - both of which cost money you do not have.
No longer at boarding school - there is also the question: where will you sleep? You are back in the city, no bed, no food, no shelter...thankfully an older brother agrees to have you stay with him and his family...but this only lasts a few months before they move away and again there is the question: where will you sleep? Luckily an old friend agrees to let you stay with him.. The space measures about 8 feet by 10 have no bed, no toilet, no running water....three people live there. At night you curl up on a chair and try to rest.
You continue to write and sing and take any opportunity to share your music with others...your music carries messages of Hope, of Truth, of Justice...these messages empower people and begin to stir up trouble for are warned not to sing anymore...your life is threatened.
Every morning you wake up and go looking for find a construction site who will let you haul cement and bricks up and down all day...for the meager wage of about 75 cents for the day. This money you take home to your contribute to the household, so that he will not see you as a burden and ask you to leave.
Each night, your body aching, and your stomach nearly empty, you return to that chair to try and get some sleep for the next long day of work. And, as exhaustion, hunger and pain threaten to overwhelm you, you wonder - will there be work tomorrow? will there be food? If anything happens to you, who will they notify? Who will come for you? You are alone in this struggle and you fight off the loneliness as you pray for strength and courage to go on...and mercifully, sleep comes.

Now, I ask you...would you be strong? Would your spirit still sing? Would you continue to strive and speak out for truth, for justice? Would your mind be fresh and your heart filled with JOY? Would you still feel generosity and show kindness to your fellow man? Would you still have faith that the God you know to be a loving God will take care of you? Would you be thankful for your life and hopeful for the future?

A lesson in courage...and abiding hope.

"This is courage - to bear unflinchingly what heaven sends." - Euripedes

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Monday, February 12, 2007

As many of you know, i keep a few small journals in which i write small passages and quotes that inspire me as I read different books...and, many have been given me by family and friends. All are included in those pages and I go back to them again and again for inspiration or to help my hand express what is in my heart. in my life, I have tried to live by a quote by Mother Theresa which says "spread Love everywhere you go..." While here in Africa i have been greatly inspired by her simple message of Love and her many words on the subject:

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody...I think that is a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."

"Do not think that Love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary...What we need is to Love without getting tired."

"It is not the magnitude of our actions, but the amount of Love that is put in them that matters."

Last Thursday I began the project of creating a new volleyball net for the school. the old net was nowhere to be found, so i would be doing some guesswork for the dimensions. Thankfully, i have had a lot of experience with knot work from working with Hemp and so, the actual "weaving" of the net was not a big concern for me!
And so, with Tom, Charles, Patrick and Dennis (students who had arrived early for school) as my helpers, and armed with many rolls of nylon chord...we began. Once started, the boys learned quickly but the task seemed endless and we worked all day!
The posts for our net were made from two lean, straight tree trunks set into deep holes in the ground that were dug using a panga (machete) and scooped out by hand. During this process Charles cut his finger. I immediately took him to wash the wound, disinfect it, add some polysporin and a band the wonder on his face while I took care of that cut, i could see that any such care had been rare if not completely absent in his life. All fixed up...we returned to our net.
By evening, of all my helpers, only Charles remained dedicated to our project! Eventually, the sun set but still we worked...until we could no longer see the chords we were tying and our hands were sore. We would have to continue in the morning...
Up early, Charles and I continued to work on the net until breakfast and beyond...finally around 1 o'clock on the second day, we tied the last and final knots, raised the net, and stood back to admire our work! Smiles spread across our faces...we had succeeded!! before us hung a beautiful electric-blue volleyball net...God had truly blessed he work of our hands!

I had noticed as we worked that the shirt Charles was wearing (a Barcelona soccer jersey and his favorite) had several seems that had worn out and opened - along each shoulder and at the collar. i asked him to bring me that shirt...I found my handy little sewing kit and spent some time that afternoon mending his jersey. Now, i am not that good at sewing - but I have to say - that that shirt looked almost as good as new when I had finished!! The smile that lit up Charles' face was priceless!! he put it on right away and declared, "Now I look smart!"
"Yes, Yes you do" I replied, smiling.

That night Charles came to me and said, "Lola, you give good care...and do you know what that means?" I asked him to tell me. "You have taken care of me, and that means I am now your son...and I will cry and cry when you leave and miss you so much." I smiled and told him that I was honoured, that I would miss him too, and that my tears would fill the water tank when it came time for me to leave this place.

Those small, small, things we do for people in the spirit of Love can change the world around us. i marvel at the pure joy of a returned smile, the giggle of pure delight from a wee child who find s a "Werther's Original" in their outstretched hand instead of a coin...the warm gratitude and deep dimples of a boy who never had a band aid lovingly placed on a scuffed knee. I think it really is those moments....little by little, added on to one another...Love in action - that can affect change.

"In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great Love."
-Mother Theresa