I Will Trust…

It’s been less than a week since I was surrounded by beautiful and precious Ugandan children, cheering and reaching out to touch me or hold my hand. It was an amazing experience; life changing, to be honest. But not because of the cheers of children or the temporary rock star status I enjoyed. The transformation came because God helped me see a little more clearly just how very blessed I am.

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Bubbles transcend culture and language. Children always love them. 

You see, I was born in America, to loving parents who have been married my entire life, to each other. We weren’t rich by American standards, but growing up I never lacked for what I truly needed. Though my husband and I are technically poor by American standards, we’ve never lacked for what we’ve truly needed, either. And our children, though their childhood has been defined by a certain level of sacrifice, have experienced abundance in many ways that can’t be measured by dollars and cents.

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Kait, a team member, surrounded by beautiful Ugandan orphans.

Children in Uganda aren’t so lucky. Many families in Uganda are broken; men have twenty and thirty children with different mothers and children often grow up without a loving or even engaged father. Of the approximately 38,000,000 people in Uganda (a country the size of Oregon) almost half are 15 years or younger. Uganda is considered the epi-center of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and many children have been both infected with HIV/AIDS or are orphans because of it. And Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world. The average Ugandan lives on $30-60 USD a month…less than $1000 USD a year?! And while many things are still within reach for those men and women who bear God’s image as much as any American, some things we consider essential are not, like education and basic health care.

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A classroom at one of the orphan schools we visited…dirt floors, holes in the walls, and a leaky roof.

It has been surprisingly difficult to come back home. It took a few days for me to understand my irritability. But it boils down to guilt. I feel guilty that God put me in America. At least two of my children are alive because of the access we’ve had to health care. If they’d been born in Uganda, they would be dead. 

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These two beautiful girls lost their mother two months ago…adjusting to life as orphans…

The really difficult thing is, the mamas in Uganda don’t love their children any less than I love mine. Their hearts don’t ache any less because death is a way of life in their world.  The real difference is, they don’t have the luxury of grief, because life is so very hard.

 

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This young mother was abandoned by the father of her precious babies.  With no means of support, she is struggling to meet their basic needs. She loves her babies as much as any mama in America…but without the same opportunity for help.

What do I do with this? Being impatient with my children won’t make the suffering of Ugandan children any less. Nor does it bring glory to God, in whose name I went to Uganda in the first place. In my quiet time, praying through my grumpiness and struggles, God brought to mind Jeremiah 29:11. And it struck me with a completely new meaning.

You see, Jeremiah 29:11 is written to a people in bondage, suffering for the sins and choices of generations of Hebrews who refused to honor God’s Law. They have just been told that the false prophet promising release in two years is lying and not sent from God; rather than going home in two years, everyone who can understand what is being said will die in captivity. God, through Jeremiah, tells His people that they will be in Babylon for seventy years. Then He says that He knows the plans He has, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give a future and a hope.

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That same God has a plan to prosper and not to harm His people in Uganda. Even though their lives are so very hard, filled with so much “challenge.” And I don’t understand. It doesn’t seem fair, and honestly, I don’t like it. But God doesn’t need my permission. He is bigger than I am, and has a perspective that transcends time. So, in the words of Lauren Daigle, I will trust Him

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Privilege

Privilege.

Yes, I know that is a controversial word. One that is greatly misunderstood by many, and the source of frustration for many others.

I also know that because of my privilege, Valerie Castile’s nightmare will never be my own. No late night phone call will pierce my heart, no frantic voice on the other end of the line will fill my head with words that don’t make sense, words I don’t want to hear.

Because, you see, my sons are white.

As the mother of white boys, I don’t have to worry about whether they’ll make it home safe. I’m not afraid for them to play with guns in the front yard or to run down to the neighbor’s house to play. I’m not afraid. And that is HUGE.

In an interview with CNN that was quoted in this Washington Post article, Philando’s mother said, “The key thing in order to try to survive being stopped by the police is to comply…Whatever they ask you to do, do it. Don’t say nothing. Just do whatever they want you to do…“ She went on to say, “I made sure my kids understood the difference between being law abiding, and that the police were there to help.” (bold & italics added).

How many of you have had conversations like that with your children?! 

I. Never. Have. And I don’t need to…because of my privilege.

How many white churches have made public service announcements to help their men make it home safe?  WE DON’T HAVE TO!! BECAUSE WE. HAVE. PRIVILEGE.

We have the privilege of not mourning. We have the privilege of not being afraid. We have the privilege of not being aware. We have the privilege of silence.

To borrow and take some liberty with the words of William Wallace in Braveheart, “What will you do with that privilege? Will you speak up? …Speak and you may face opposition, harassment, misunderstanding, or worse. Stay quiet and you’ll stay comfortable. For at least a while. But dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that to walk with your brothers and tell the world that they can complicate our lives but we’ll still be a voice for those who don’t have one?!” 

I may not be a very effective spokesperson, or have a very big platform, but I refuse to be silent anymore. Will you join me? Will you help advocate for those who face a fear most of us will never understand? How, I don’t know. But we can find out together.