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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Real Poverty

We made it! Colleen and I arrived in Uganda late Tuesday night. It’s so, so good to be back. We were met at the airport by a very special friend who some of you may remember from past posts...
Mama Catherine and me. Way too late Tuesday night.

The last time I was in Uganda, it was to complete the adoption of my children, Hannah and Joseph. This time I’m back simply to serve and love the country that has given our family so much.

Yesterday we visited M1. That’s the facility where two of my children spent years of their lives.  And today we visited M2 and M3.

The children in the remand homes are often hungry. They go without running water for weeks at a time. They lack basic healthcare and hygiene, many need school fees and they all need more love and attention.

Today I walked into M3 carrying a $1 pack of pipe cleaners from Target. Judging by the children’s reactions, you would have thought I was walking in with golden tickets to the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. They were so excited about these “toys” I was nearly mobbed and two team members had to come over and help me distribute them. Pipe cleaners, that's it.

I held a 10 year old girl on my lap like a baby. She could’ve cared less that she was too big for that kind of treatment. She wanted desperately to be loved. I held a toddler while he napped and then had to put him down to finish his nap on the concrete floor when it was time to go. I swatted swarms of flies off of babies and picked a bug off the cheek of a boy while he slept. I complimented a young girl, a resident of M3, for taking such excellent care of the small baby in her charge.

These places were hard to visit. And even harder to leave.

The unbelievable circumstances in these places are not the fault of the people who run them. These are kind, loving people who are doing their absolute best with the very limited resources they have available.

This is also the not the fault of God. Uganda is a tiny country enormously blessed with natural resources. It sits at the mouth of the Nile River and borders Lake Victoria, the largest lake in the world. The ground is abundantly fertile with some of the best growing conditions in the world – indeed, a tree in Uganda can become full-grown in only five years.

And yet, the people of this blessed, well-resourced country are dying of hunger, thirst and easily preventable diseases. Many live in conditions we wouldn’t house our pets in.

The plentiful waters of Lake Victoria and the Nile are utterly filthy and non-drinkable unless thoroughly treated. The fertile land of Uganda is too expensive for the vast majority of the very poor populace to own – and because they don’t own it, they’re unable to farm it.

God has done His part. And now it’s up to us to do ours. As a group, Americans are the wealthiest people on the planet. Even poor Americans are very, very rich by the world’s standards. Friends, we need to share our abundance because this stuff I’m seeing over here – this just isn’t right.

God blesses people not so we can indulge ourselves and live in abundance and excess – but so we can be a blessing to others.

While I've walked around these places this week and seen one heartbreaking sight after another, the words of Mother Teresa keep coming to mind... "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you can live as you wish."

I'm guilty and you probably are too. We all live with far, far more than we need. And yet we still desire more. And that is the real poverty.


love said...

love you.
love them.
love there.
want with everything in me to be back.

the_blissful_mommy said...

Shelly, I miss you and am, at the same time, so glad you're there.

Christen said...

AMEN Shelly. Thank you. I just keep thinking about this, that God has given the world all the resources we need but we aren't distributing it, we are hoarding it for ourselves while we call it blessings.... Oh how I wish to be back there... soon. soon I pray!

Naomi said...

God owns a cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and He has resources through His people we have not even considered. You are bringing the needs known to many like myself.

Thank you.

Deeply moved......

Sarah said...

I've been thinking the exact same thing. Hubs and I visited M2&3 this summer with VO. I fell in love with those children and that country. I never want to forget it.

Scott Fillmer said...

our team had such an incredible time with the two K's at M1, M2, and M3 a few days ago, an experience that will never be forgotten for sure. My blog post on M1 (though I never mentioned where we were) was the most read post on my blog in over 10 years of blogging, glad that so many people found these kids story so compelling, they are truly amazing kids, just amazing.