03 July 2011
I am used
What a full day we experienced on our first Sunday in Uganda. Before church even started we got to play a small part in a marriage proposal for another student at the Institute. They believe in courtship here and there is no flirting or “dating” among the young men and women. There is a big responsibility to model that to the younger ones, so this couple was following tradition and setting a good example. It would have been considered inappropriate for this couple to spend a lot of time together if they people here did not understand they were planning on getting married. So he proposed to her outside our home yesterday morning and Troy took their engagement pictures. Then it was announced during church and there was a lot of celebrating. It was so fun to witness how that happens here.
Church itself was 4 hours long. We were told that was one of the longest services ever here at New Hope. I guess if we survived this one, it should be smooth sailing from here on out! It was long, but there were so many neat aspects to this service. It was a morning of celebrating family. That was emphasized over and over. There was a young man who graduated and I felt so grateful to witness the love, honor and responsibility spoken to him. From what I could understand through the accents, he was the first boy taken into one of the families here at New Hope. His mother was a Christian and loved the Lord, but died of a sickness when he was young. He was the first orphaned child placed into this family and they were so proud of him. They encouraged him for his hard work, his love for Jesus, his integrity and honored him for becoming who they expected and hoped for him to become. They passed on the responsibility for him to continue to live his life in a way that honors the Lord and sets an example for those younger. They honored his mother and spoke of her character and her desires for her son and how he has fulfilled those desires. It was an emotional thing for me to witness. He was launched into manhood in a very powerful way. I loved it and felt privileged to witness this.
There was another testimony of a man who came here many years ago. He shared how his parents split up and they both wanted to take him back to their clans and he was taken to his father’s clan by force. He spoke of traditions and evil ceremonies that were done to him. witchcraft he had been a part of. He has experienced a lot of pain in his life. He shared how he was very resistant to the gospel when he came to New Hope. He would hear about Jesus and His love and believe this could not be true. It took a long time for his heart to soften and he received Jesus as His Savior and he has been set free. He no longer walks in darkness and he is truly free in Christ…and there was a lot to be free from. His desire is to speak of Jesus boldly to his family and clan so they can be set free as well. It was powerful to hear and see the truth and joy in his life despite the pain of his childhood.
I know I haven’t been here long, but I find myself already frustrated with the cultural barriers. I know it will just take time, but I want to walk up to a young woman and know what questions are appropriate to ask and be able to understand through her accent exactly what she is communicating to me. I did meet one woman and I hope to be able to spend more time with her. Her name is Nabatanzi Afuah and I have written her name down and spoken it over and over in my head so I won’t forget it! She was bubble and happy and outgoing and I think she may be in the Institute with me. I hope so! There is another young woman named Consequence who will be in the classes with us. She has been cooking for us and has a daughter named Gertrude who has a smile to light up a room and bright happy eyes. There is something very endearing about her and I can’t wait to give her a hug at breakfast! ☺ Consequence is a hardworking woman and something she said to me yesterday has been rolling around in my head since. She made us breakfast at the Institute and then helped prepare lunch for about 300 following the church service. There was another ceremony after that and then she made us dinner. When I was saying goodnight to her last night, I asker her if she was exhausted. I didn’t understand her reply…it wasn’t a simple yes. So I asked her again if she was tired. This time I understood her. She answered me, “I AM USED.” I am used. That has been running through my mind and my heart ever since. I am used. I like that. I am not tired, but I am used by God and for God. I want to be used. I guess if I am not used, something is wrong. So, I’ll leave you with that thought and question as well. Are you used?