What Does It All Mean?

[ Uganda, Africa Mission Journal – Final Entry ]

HOUSTON, TX – MARCH 20, 2012 – My final note on our trip to Uganda is going to be a reflection on what I learned about myself and what I learned about the world God has given us to live in.

Let’s start with the least important. That would be me.

I am a very emotional person who forms a deep bond with people and places, but that emotion is not manifest in my demeanor. Outwardly I am an observer. When my father died – wow, almost eight years ago now – I was the one they called to make all the arrangements for his services in Arkansas where he lived. I rubbed my head and paced the floor and did all the things I needed to do. Inside, however, I was filled with loss, with the feeling I had never done enough for the man, that I had disappointed him too often. When we got to Hot Springs and I saw Dad, I hoped he knew how much I loved him. That’s kind of the way it was with the orphans at Mashah. I wanted to grab every one of them as they ran by and put them on my knee and kiss them and love them, but I sat on the steps of one of their houses and watched them. Instead they ran into the arms of those that reached out for them and giggled at their caresses. But when they did come to me, curious, as all children are, and I held them in my arms, I hoped they felt the love that had been there for them all along.

I am also a pretty organized person, but not a rigid one. I like things to be the way I like them to be. But when they’re not, that’s okay, too. I kind of let things slide when they don’t happen the way they were supposed to happen. I may grouse about it, but in the end the way things are at any given moment are just the way they are. So, I’m always reorganizing my plan based on the ever-changing circumstances. I think this was an essential attitude in Uganda, from losing our bags to deciding and then changing what we did every day. It was essential because we were on African time. African time means if a school said they were bringing kids to play at 10 a.m., it really meant they would start getting the kids ready to come at ten and they would be there sometime around eleven, maybe later. If we were going to work on the playground at 7:30, we’d get there sometime before ten. It is just a rhythm of the place, a rhythm I actually like quite a lot. It says, “Today we will do what we can do today, and tomorrow we will begin again.”

Now let’s talk about the world God gave us, and what we’ve done with it.

We’ve perverted it. I think that’s the simplest way to put it. We have given precedence to what we can get over what our souls can give. We have made self-worth a monetary term. And we have forgotten that happiness is never found in something we can hold with our hands. What I saw last week was happiness abounding. Was it a happiness of ignorance because they did not know of all the great things they might could have? When they learned other people had cars and electricity and fresh water and they didn’t, would they never be happy again? No, happiness does not come from such things. And that’s the perversion; we think it does. Happiness is the peace that passes understanding whatever the circumstance may be. Just read Philippians 4, and then read it again. Read it in the King James. Read it in the NIV. Read it in the New American Standard. Let it be a light unto your soul. Because happiness is what we all have sought since the first man put pen to paper, and it can only be found in one place.

What it all means is this. I am convinced that our lives are wasted when we pursue our selves and not the good of others. Please God, do not allow me to waste mine any more.

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