Jesus put it this way as Paul reminds us in Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” It just so happens, I’m learning that in the pouring into others whatever it be, food, time, energy, love, healthcare, education, comfort, it is the joy that accompanies the giving that is the greatest blessing of all. This joy has come to me as I slowly, slowly learn and grow in my understanding of what it means that, doing unto the “least of these” in the worlds’ eyes, is in reality being an act of love and grateful service to my King and Lord and Redeemer.
I think by now anyone reading these entries has begun to recognize that I love KIDS, all ages, shapes, sizes, and personalities from the time they come out of the womb to the time they hit the work force! Now, my life crosses paths with many of them, some in my neighborhood, some in the Ssese Island fishing camps, some on the streets of Kampala, some through my friends’ growing families, some through the Biblical Counseling study (although most of these are not kids anymore!), and some I’ve met through the Reach Out program here in Uganda. What God has taught me more deeply about myself these past weeks and months is that an additional blessing is the joy that comes from building relationships with those I am able to pour into! What I actually love most is time spent investing in, building relationship with, and caring for Children and Adolescents in such a context.
It is one beautiful thing to be surrounded by kids, a group of 10-30 young children, being ushered through the fishing camps as we make our visits. Having my hair “combed”, light mole covered skin explored, glasses attempted to be confiscated, every finger held by a different child and fought over at that, legs being clung to, lap being filled by 1-3 kids every time I sit down, lots of little games and conversations, having often both hips or my back occupied, and taking note of and caring for ill children as we’re able, is one type of my experience and interactions with children here in Uganda. I thank God for this opportunity and what I can bring to them. I can whisper to them the precious truth that Jesus loves them. I can tell them what he came to do for them. I can pray for them. I can let Jesus show himself to them as I pick up and carry or stop to talk and play with the forgotten, separated, or left behind ones. This is one way that God has put on my path to love His little children and bring them to Him.
It is another beautiful thing altogether to have my home filled with God’s beautiful and unique creations, to ride in Kampala and as Richard (a boda boda brother) and I approach my destination to have some youth run up to greet me on their way home from school yelling “Nantongo Joy!” (the name some call me by), Saturday visiting some of the youth at their dance practice and not long after finding us with side-stitches as they teach me and I make a fool of myself attempting to learn the traditional dance, to have a boy want to accompany me to church this past Sunday and then spending the afternoon with a few others studying and eating snacks at my flat, to come home from the islands Friday evening and not long after hearing a knock at the door to find one of the young girls in the neighborhood wanting to visit and come read at my house…I love this! This is where I find my heart...
I love that I can be one wee woman on this planet who has the blessing and opportunity to demonstrate Jesus’ deep care for kids by opening up my home to be a safe and comfortable place where girls can be girls and boys can be boys. I love that kids know they are welcome. I love that God has blessed me to be a blessing in feeding them when they come and providing toys and books they know they are welcome to use! I love that they invite me into their worlds and what matters to them. I love that some of them now come to share about life and ask for advice or my thoughts. I love that God’s Word has the answers for them and that I have such an opportunity to speak Truth and lead them to the One who does care and has the greatest answers and guidance.
One particular experience recently is pictured above and I want to share a bit more about how God used it in my heart. Two Saturdays ago I invited some of the adolescents that God has brought into my life and whom I have been developing relationships with over the past months to come for a visit. I was so excited, blessed, and honored that they would travel very far for them to come and spend the day hanging out with me! Only some of the boys could come that day and so it turned into a boys’ day at Musawo’s house! We had a blast! We laughed and laughed and laughed and they ate and ate and ate (May God abundantly bless every mother and father of an adolescent boy!). I could not have been more blessed to be able to get to know them more, welcome them into a nice home, and feed them something different than their every day meal of posho and beans at school!
But the follow up is a taste of how God uses such times…all last week following that day I have heard from them, thanking, missing, and asking when we can repeat, when I can visit their families, and when they can come back and bring the others and have me sit back and they cook for me! God is showing me the impact of investment in relationship with youth and how over time they come to know, be known, receive care, but also come for counsel…what a beautiful opportunity to demonstrate who Christ is to me/to us and how His Word guides. God alone is the One who I am known by fully. He is the One I am to invest my life in knowing and imitating. He is the One who cares for me. He is the One who guides and counsels me. I am honored and excited for how God plans to continue to shape and use this heart to love on, care for, and encourage youth to know and seek the One who knows them most and gives them utmost counsel…
Thanks for tuning in for another wee taste of what’s going on this side. Thank you for all of your love and prayers and support that make it possible for me to bless these kids. I hope one of these days I’ll figure out how it is that people keep on top of blogging. For now it looks like a once a month or twice a month endeavor in the midst of the business of hosting, feeding, caring for, and visiting God’s precious creations!