October 25, 2012

The Gift of Joy

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hosting some special visitors from the states! Christian and my boyfriend Mike came for a visit and it was such an amazing trip on so many levels! I enjoyed seeing Uganda through their eyes and was refreshed by their energy and enthusiasm to see and do everything possible and to serve and love the beautiful women and children of the Dorcas Widows Ministry. 
Mike wrote down his experience for our ministry newsletter but I wanted to share it with you all as well!

The Gift of Joy
-Mike Barrucco

When I decided to come to Africa and visit the Dorcas Widows ministry, I had no idea what to expect.Being raised in a middle-class home in Southern New Jersey, in a large sense, I was sheltered from the burdens that others face every day. With this being my first journey to a developing nation, I was very nervous on what lay ahead. I was also unprepared for the gift this country would give me, The Gift of Joy.

On our first full day in Uganda, we were taken to visit one of the widows in her home where we were welcomed with joy.  
After opening in prayer, we proceeded to discuss her business of making paper beaded jewelry. Soon a pitcher of juice and food she had prepared were set out for us to snack on as we discussed her living situation. I began to reflect on this act of kindness and realized how much joy and sacrifice it took to provide such a welcomed greeting, despite a very difficult living situation.

We left her house and continued on to visit another widow who lived near by. This woman was the primary caretaker for four of her young grandchildren as their mother was out looking for work. We shared some cookies with these kids and as they ate, I realized they were hungry, and this was a meal, not a snack. Yet even in this situation where the children were going hungry, we were again welcomed with joy. 

As we winded down the red dirt roads of the Ugandan slums, children greeted us with joyful laughter. It was obvious that folks like us did not frequent these parts.

That evening we attended the weekly widows meeting at church. Upon arriving, every single widow rose to her feet and let out shouts of exuberance. They had been excitedly waiting for us to arrive. We opened in prayer and then the ladies put on a huge production they had lovingly planned for us. They gave us the wonderful gift of their native dance and then performed a play that narrated some of the joy and suffering these women had endured. We sang songs to the Lord and it was such a wonderful collection of voices! It sounded as if there were a thousand people singing instead of twenty. As we worshiped, I searched the women’s faces and realized there was not a single lukewarm Christian in this crowd. The Lord was the wellspring of joy in their lives and it was a rare treasure to discover, one that warmed my heart deeply. 

The next day I had the joy of meeting my sponsored child! Dennis is 13 and wants to be a pilot one-day. As an aerospace engineer, it was a real treat to hear about this ambition. Dennis’ mother welcomed me with open arms. She told me her story of becoming a widow, and her many trials since. I could tell she had such a wonderful love for her children. As I interacted with Dennis and his mother, one thought stood out in my mind. I realized that Dennis was wearing the same outfit that day as in a picture I first saw of him a long time ago. I wondered if those were the only clothes he owned? I was so glad that we had already planned to take Dennis shopping to pick out some new clothes for him.

We picked Dennis up the next day and he ran up to me with a huge smile that could light up a room. I was thinking, what child likes clothes shopping this much? The afternoon shopping in Kampala with Dennis was one of the most fulfilling days of my life. We took him to purchase new jeans, a shirt, and some school shoes and he seemed to enjoy every part of the day. It was impossible for me to comprehend that a child could be so respectful, thankful and filled with such incredible joy by a mere shopping trip. It was such a different reaction than a typical child in the states. My world lit up that day!

 I thank God for the gift of joy that Dennis and the Dorcas widows showed me. They helped teach me how wonderful it truly is to be joyful in the Lord in all situations. Through my time in Africa God showed me that faith, above all else, will lead to the deepest type of satisfaction that one can ever see in this world.


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