Many years after Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in India, she reflected on the suffering she had experienced and shared it with some of her 'Sisters' in the following words:
"My dear children---without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption. Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death. All that He has taken upon Himself, and has carried it in the darkest night. Only by being one with us, He has redeemed us. We are allowed to do the same: all the desolation of the poor people, not only their material poverty, but their spiritual destitution must be redeemed, and we must have our share in it. Pray thus when you find it hard---"I wish to live in this world which is so far from God, which has turned so much from the light of Jesus, to help them---to take upon me something of their suffering." Yes, my dear children---let us share in the sufferings of our poor---for only by being one with them---we can redeem them, that is, bringing God into their lives and bringing them to God."
Amber and I have yet to experience material poverty---for His own reasons, God has kept us well supplied financially in this season. Who knows if one day we'll get to experience material poverty? Neither have we become 'one with the people' in the idealistic missionary sense. But we have tasted a good measure of the 'spiritual destitution' Mother Teresa speaks about, as well as a good many other types of deprivations. We followed Jesus into the darkness of Karamoja, the darkness of Ikland, and the darkness of Janet and Lemu's tender childhood. By now we should be learning to expect new opportunities to follow Jesus into the darkness.
What darkness is Jesus beckoning you to follow Him into? It could be a remote people like in our case. But more likely it is a darkness across town, across the street, or even in the next room. Don't keep your Light hidden for long.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
On the heels of my last blog, I thought I'd share some more Timu moments.
It's green right now. The rains started about a month ago and we see a heavy rain once a week. It's enough to turn the land this lush green (see below).
The pastoral life might have worked for these tribes in the past, when they were truly nomadic and roaming from grazing land to grazing land. But in recent years, they've settled down in one area. They have wells (a reliable water source), schools, healthcare, and free handouts from USAID. Why would they want to move on now? But their problem remains: the land cannot sustain them if they stay settled. The trees (and source of heat for cooking) will be gone. The lands will be overgrazed and their cows thin. They can still farm, but they will face the unpredictability of the weather patterns. And when it doesn't rain for an entire year (like last year), the people won't have food. They'll have to cry for help to NGOs and become dependent once again upon relief and aid. This is a chronic problem in Karamoja.
Yet, how do we break the cycle? How do we help the people to be independent and empowered to survive on their own? I don't have the answers, but I do know one thing. Both the recipients of aid and the aid workers themselves are benefiting from the chronic problems in Karamoja. If the problems went away, so would the hand-outs and the jobs of the aid workers. I suspect that all involved would not want to see that happen, even if it was for the best (true development) of the people. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. Just wanting to bring up some of the issues we struggle with in this impoverished place. I didn't even mention how marginalized the Ik are for being subjected to this kind of behavior. I'm referring to people moving onto their land and doing as they please. The Ik certainly aren't allowed to move into other subcounties, cut down their trees and 'use' the land as they see fit. Yet it's acceptable for the Karamojong to treat them this way? But marginalization is a topic for another blog.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Upon returning to Timu last month, Terrill immediately started an Ik orthography workshop. He wanted to implement the knowledge he had learned at the last orthography workshop before it started to fade. He also desperately needed to do community testing of the alphabet and get it approved by people who actually speak the language. We are three weeks into this new workshop and it is due to end on Saturday. Praise God: Terrill has learned much about the language and has made progress in describing it.
So what are we gals doing while Terrill is away (the workshop is being held at our old compound)? Well, I'm still seeing a few patients every morning. I've narrowed my patient base down to children under 10 years old and wound care. The girls usually 'help out' in a number of ways and come alongside as I treat people. I hope it's teaching them about compassion and serving others.
When we're not seeing patients, the girls can often be found at their coloring table. Janet is on a rainbow kick and likes to make everything multi-colored. Lemu is still learning to sit at a table for longer than five minutes. We're trying to learn to focus on a project for a longer time period with her.
They both love to help in the kitchen. Last week I let Lemu mix the guacamole up. It was half gone by the time I got it on the table. But I suppose avocado is healthier to lick up than cake or cookie batter. They are also good at helping to make hummus and making sure it is seasoned correctly. It takes a good number of licks to confirm it is just right.