Brent Unpacking Africa | Part 2

Friday, May 30, 2014

Traveling through the majority of the continent (or over it) has given me a new perspective on the country.  There is still a great deal of violence, just look at the news. The countries as a whole have survived numerous invasions, countless genocides, rebellions, civil wars and medical epidemics.  From above the country at 30,000’ there is peace, but on the ground there is a different feel depending on where you are in that moment.

Let’s finish with Burundi and then we can move on to Uganda.  So I stop after the National Police committed their lives to the “true Messiah”, you know that guy that defeated death and took away its sting, “JESUS.”  During the day, I learned to speak some Kirundi, for a couple of reasons; first, because it was nice to be able to communicate with the people at the clinic; second, it makes people feel like you respect them and their culture if you greet them in their native language and customs; and finally, I thought it sounded amazing.  I have some written down that I can share at some point, but will more than likely murder it at this time.  

The lady!  I don’t have photos or even know her name, but can tell you she was “mama”, the elder in the area.  She was greeted with respect and you could see the wear and tear on her body.  She had outlived the country’s life expectance and was still pushing on. She smelled of stale old wet wood smoke from her home. Some of you ladies have purchased Noonday scarves that have that same smell from the villages of Guatamaula. She was dressed in vibrant colors that brightened the room.  She could not talk, but used body language and had someone speaking on her behalf (it may have been her daughter).  She could not walk on her own, but you could tell she didn’t want to be a burden on anyone.  

I’m not even totally aware of what was wrong with her, but you could see goodness in her eyes.  If you studied her eyes you could also see hurt, suffering, longing and pain.  When you gaze into someone’s eyes for words you can hear them speak.  They are the window to the soul and if you focus you may learn something (I did).  

We take it for granted because we can communication through media, voice inflection, sign language and pictures; she had none of those things.  She only had her eyes and her weathered hard worked hands that spoke words of encouragement into the depths of your soul that said, “Keep pushing forward and take care of my people.” 

She knew her time was coming to an end and she may have passed by now; however, my guess is she is still pushing forward.  But her concern was not for herself but for others. 

If I have learned anything from my travels in Africa it is this, “the people of that country love you with everything they have and live life every moment as if it was there last.”  

I had the privilege to carry that crippled 80 pound village elder to the provider and then to the pharmacy where she was greeted by some strong young villagers that cared for her the rest of the way.  In those moments where she depended on me to get her from point A to the finish line, I could see the love in her eyes and the hope she had in our team and the faith she carried upon her brow.  She had the look of peace and love if you looked beyond the years and the pain.  

There was peace inside her.  

I know it sounds like and oxymoron, peace in struggle and love in through pain, but she was a living breathing example of what true strength looks like.  I wish I had a photo to share for you to see, but it wasn’t about the picture, it was more about the moment that will forever be etched in my memory.  

That day that a broken vessel healed my heart with compassion and without words!  My heart was broken for her and the other people around us, but her peace and wisdom lit up that dark musky place.  The only other way for me to explain it is this, you had to be there.  

Throughout the rest of the day, people treated me differently (the villagers) because I showed that helpless old lady compassion with the love of Jesus.  John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: LOVE one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”(NIV)  Then John wrote this, 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is LOVE.”

I started my journey to Africa looking for a partnership, a way to improve or come alongside a group to continue missions and give our church the opportunity to participate in a medical mission since we do not currently have one.  What happened on the trip was much different than I expected.  I found compassion, love, hope, encouragement, trust, and most importantly faith.  I not only found it, I saw it lived out in numerous villagers across the entire continent.  The more I look back the more lessons I have learned. 

 Next time I will share a bit on trust, the market and arriving in Uganda.
Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”  



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