Friday, September 6, 2013

A Budget and a Burial

There are some days when I could even fool myself that I work in an office in the States. This week since the kids are out on the second of their three yearly breaks, I took the opportunity to work on the budget for the school for next year. Buried in my laptop for hours on end, I am reminded of why I wouldn’t gladly choose a 9-5 desk job. This morning found me again at work settling in for yet another marathon day of numbers. I have to admit, it’s not work that I enjoy. When I dreamt of my life’s work in Africa, I’m pretty sure I had something more like trekking through the bush, spreading joy, flowers, and candy to every child that I saw. I definitely didn’t envision a dimly lit office, wooden chair, and lcd screen. But the hard truth of life is that in order to accomplish the vision set before us, we must accomplish even the tiresome, seemingly less important or at least less fulfilling tasks as well. Even though if I had my way, each day would be spent just playing with or teaching the children, I find myself with less enamoring tasks like making budgets, making copies, organizing school supplies, doing inventory, writing policies, and pouring through book after book of school curriculum. But I know how important those things are. Because they enable the kids to laugh, learn, and play even better throughout their school year. I am reminded almost every day to be faithful in the small things now, in preparation for bigger things in the future.

And just when I start to get tired of the menial, the Lord brings in something to remind me of just how blessed I am to live and minister and work in this place. Today, it was through a burial. Let me see if I can set the scene for you: Here, once someone dies, people can wait for only a couple of days before they bury the body because of the rate of decay. And funerals here are a big event. Like 500-1000 people kind of event. The whole community gathers around. As well as every person who could possibly have claimed any relation to that person. So they take a day or two to notify people of the death and burial, and wait while everyone gathers. Then on the day of the burial, they rent tents and chairs, though never enough to seat all of the people present. Today they said the burial would start at 2, but in typical Ugandan fashion, the actual burial didn’t start until around 4. In the meantime all of the people sat and chatted. Men gathered in groups, some having brought their own chair or simply standing together. Women spread Leesus (wrap-around skirts) out on the ground to sit together and talk. Having tied a leesu around my waist to make my skirt the expected length for the village setting, I joined my co-workers under the banana trees on a red and black checkered leesu. Just sitting among the people I have grown to love was so restoring for my spirit. Watching the dark faces gleam with laughter in the bright afternoon sun. Gazing up at the bright blue sky through vivid green banana leaves. Marveling at the myriad array of brilliantly colored gomasi (traditional dresses for women). Grasping hands in greeting, worn rough from digging. Straining my ears and mind to grasp bits of conversation whirling around in a lilting tongue. Even shifting constantly to relive legs not accustomed to sitting fully extended on the lumpy ground. I soaked in the beauty of it all. This was Africa at its best.

And I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful that God choose me to labor in this place. To call a place of such beauty my home. To work among such colorful people (in both the literal and figurative sense!!). It’s really a marvel to me each and every day. As I drive my car every day through the herds of cows, dogging bicycles, people, goats, chickens, and potholes I am in awe. I am in awe at the privilege of serving here. And even if it means spending a day in a wooden chair, eyes made blurry from staring at a screen, it’s worth every minute. Each and every task becomes meaningful when I remember the faces of the children who I serve. And most especially when I remember the voice of my Master whispering, “Well done.”

 A few of my kids....


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