“Is it a girl or is it a boy?” the few children crowded around in one of the camps who hadn’t met me before asked my colleague. When she informed them I was a girl and in fact a woman, they all understood and gave an agreeing “Oh…” This lent for a great laugh the rest of the week! Seems some little ones in all of their blunt honesty see my short height and don’t know what to make of it…am I a girl or a woman; am I my colleagues child? Ha!
I guess it gives me an ‘in’ into the kids world, but when it comes to speaking to women and mothers, it can bring its own challenge. Here within the culture I now live and move, being a female without children and unwed means you are still a girl. That has been a bit difficult to adjust to since in my own mind and culture I have been a woman for some time and yet now seem to be referred backward to as a girl only after others discover I have not yet given birth…shocking to most apparently, except for those kids :)
All this to say that place can be a bit intimidating at times when my role now is to stand in front of communities of men and women and TEACH about HIV being spread from mothers to children and how WE can prevent that as mothers and fathers. Well, anyway, that was just a bit of intimidation added on top of my great fear of speaking in front of people…a mountain this week I could not go under or around. I had to climb over it! Thanks to God and His help and reminder to me that “it is not about me (Melanie). No, it is about people knowing and understanding the Truth and allowing that to work change.” The way we have come to know is because someone was not too scared to tell us, right? So, up I went and God in His great mercy surrounded me with the prayers of many of you and the support of those with me as well as audiences eager to listen and learn. The words even came out!! I could not ask for more!
These words came as a help to me this week as they have challenged me to know where my heart is…and was created to be:
“Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”- Matthew 22:37-40
“If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, ‘You do not understand,’ or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; If I put my own good name before the others’ highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary [Jesus Christ’s] love.”-Amy Carmichael
This does not seem like a challenge that will be moving from me for a while, but I hope one day my love for people will really over take my fear of being in front of them.
I hope one day to be a maama, but until then, though I have not yet given birth, I find myself mothering many children and working with many maamas, in fact this daily routine makes me feel I’m filling the role. Anyway, all of this mothering in the month of December brings ANOTHER BIRTH to mind…Can you think of who it is?
Yeah, Jesus, the reason for this season…can you imagine Mary, finding herself pregnant like many of the young girls I work with? Although she unlike some of them wasn't experiencing a consequence of actions! Like some (for example those raped) she may have felt the guilt of being blamed and accused when she had not acted outside of the moral and cultural expectations known to her. The difference being with Mary came in the peace she received from the Angel of God reassuring her this was an act of God and she was carrying the Savior of the World within her womb…I like to think of how carefully she cared for herself and Jesus even as he was still inside and when He came on that special day…we all have such value…
Even more I love to reflect on and meditate on the Savior of the World, of you and of me, the One who came to make all things right, to make it possible for one day there to be no more mourning or crying or pain…that this One chose to come in the form of a baby going through the whole process God designed for human babies to come…He did it all, knowing that He was doing so to die for ME, for YOU, for EACH ONE OF US…wow…if He could do that, I can stand up and speak the Truth!
Thank you so much for everything everyone of you :) God bless!! Touch base again in the next week or so this time :) Much love and grace and peace to you!
|My Welcome back:) Kagonya Camp, some of the kids who asked the above question:)|
|Myself with the help of Alice (my teammate and interpreter) teaching about mother to child transmission of HIV to a group of about 25-30 men, women, and teens at Mukaka Camp|
|Camp for the teaching...brief pause in the teaching as one of the young teen boys spotted it and killed it...probably came to take care of the rats scurrying past on the other side of us...this is our life ;)|
|we had a joint 2011 birthday party after I returned from the US last week for the kiddos who hang out with me many weekends from my neighborhood. Cake, juice, games, laughter, individual candles and happy birthday songs! Good times had by all :)|