Friday, May 18, 2007

I get so jazzed up

Nothing fires me up much more than just helping people with absolutely no expectations of anything in return. It’s the kind of help that just blows people away. Have you ever been helped like that? Seemingly for no reason. It might have been big help or such an insignificant little thing. It may have been something so simple, but it came at a time when you just needed some help or from someone you wouldn’t have expected to help you. To me, I see this as a great representation of Jesus Christ and of Christianity. The mere fact that God came down and manifested himself in the form of Jesus, God on earth, to dwell and serve amongst and amidst the people perfectly illustrates it. I love it! What must have those people thought who actually got it, who understood what was going on. God in the flesh. The healings, the teachings. I can only imagine.

The Purdue team hit the field again to do some simple work out in the villages. This is their mission work. This is why they came: to work. It’s tough coordinating a group of 14 white people, untrained in African building techniques and then to coordinate an additional 20-40 Compassion kids who are coming along to also help. Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough for everyone to do. So when that happens we take the leftovers and go down into the garden to dig in the fields. There is always gardening to do. Even though the weeds will grow back in a few weeks, it still must be compelling for Ugandans to see Americans rolling up their sleeves to work in their fields. A couple of the Compassion staffers go with us into the field. There is also a neighbor who is home from college named Francis who is also around. We’ve asked him to just go around with us. He overhears what the locals are saying as they are standing around watching the Muzungus work. Here are three stories from him of what people said as they saw us working:

A local government member of the tiny village we were working in called the LC 1 (basically the mayor) came and spoke after one of our groups had finished working. His eyes were filled with tears and his voice was shaky as he spoke of the utter amazement of Americans, AMERICANS, who were there in their midst for the first time, digging in the dirt and getting their hands and feet muddy as they helped to build these mud structures for these Compassion children, the poorest of the poor. He didn’t think Americans did this or would do this and he wished that the local people would take the example they had set, coming from a place that was ‘so high’ and working here in Africa, and that others would follow their humble example.

A Muslim woman was also deeply moved that these white Americans were working so hard for these Compassion children without expecting anything in return and doing it in the name of Christ. She was amazed at how hard they were working and that they had come from so far. She exclaimed that she was so moved that this was what Christianity was about that she would seriously think about changing her own religion to Christianity because she had never seen this kind of selfless giving by other Muslims within her own religion.

Another woman couldn’t believe that Americans worked so hard. She thought they just traveled from their air conditioned house in their air conditioned car to their air conditioned work places along perfectly paved roads. She couldn’t fathom them coming to Africa and arriving in their village, working alongside local people, laughing, working, donating materials to build structures and then helping to build them. She sat there most of the day and just took it all in.

I love it. I absolutely love it. Working for work’s sake and giving without expecting anything in return. Helping just to help, because people need help. We all need help. I, even as I type this, need help in some form or fashion. We all need it, though it can be tough to receive at times.

We had 2 groups working today. One was building an outdoor kitchen for a family. When the group came they wanted to buy goats for some of these families, but after they arrived the focus shifted to doing some light construction. Not every family has the land or the capacity to raise goats, so they can be a problem rather than a blessing sometimes. And it’s possible that they will raise a family of goats and then sell them for something like an outdoor kitchen. An outdoor kitchen will enable the families to cook even if it rains. I imagine that with a good rain the family would go without food, so an outdoor kitchen is almost essential. It costs about $60 to roof a small outdoor kitchen. The group doesn’t just pay for the materials, they also have become exceptional builders of these local structures, which involves cutting trees with a machete, digging holes for them with the same machete, using banana fibers to tie some smaller sticks to the frame which work as slats to put the mud in, they dig up dirt and make mud and then build the walls up with the mud. Everyone finds something to do and we’re working side by side with the Compassion kids, which makes it that much neater. The kids work HARD! You wouldn’t believe how hard these kids work. I’m not talking about working hard for a 12 year old, I’m talking about working hard like grown men, construction workers work! They know how to work! And there’s nobody telling them to jump in to do something, they just do it. Maybe because they’re working at their friends home, maybe it’s because there are some ‘Muzungus’ around, who knows? Maybe it’s just because that’s their livelihood and they know how to work.

The 2nd group worked across the village at another home improving an outdoor bathing area. We also tore down an old pit latrine. Most of the pit latrines in the village are constructed by digging a hole in the ground, covering it with logs to make the floor, putting mud on the logs to make the floor but leaving a hole for the business. The walls are made of timber from nearby and sticks tied together to make slats for the mud. The roof is usually made either from thatched grass or banana leaves. It doesn’t have to be absolutely leak proof, just enough to provide some shelter when doing one’s business.

The structure that was up was only about 4 ft tall and was falling apart, so we demolished it and began to build up new walls and made up some new mud for the walls. The girls really had a good time and started to really connect with and have fun with the kids. They began racing the kids to tie the sticks to the frame using the banana fibers from the banana trees which were all around us. They began declaring who were the winners and who were the losers. The kids thought they were quite funny.

Also... My cat had her kittens. Three of them. The Purdue girls who are animal science majors think that they are from 2 different fathers because one is quite a bit bigger than the others. My cat, Akamogo (Blemish), had them in my neighbors office, somehow squeezing her big pregnant belly under the crack of the door to get in. I've since moved them to a T-shirt lined cardboard box next to my room. Mother and babies seem to be doing fine. I now understand the term, "Weak as a newborn kitten" better than before.


At 19 May, 2007, Blogger Cailyn said...

I can't tell you how much i appreciate your posts. You describe things so well! I am just so thankful for your God given experience there. I teared up when i was reading the stories about what the 3 different people thought about the Americans. Through God amazing things can happen, and to Him i give my praises for all your experiences there, especially the ones with the Purdue team and Brad! ~cailyn


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