As I packed to come to Africa one of my concerns was related to clothing. Knowing that laundry was done from a bucket and I will often be wearing the same articles of clothing for more than one day, I decided I would pack about a weeks worth of clothes for our month long trip. When I weighed my baggage I discovered it was about 5 pounds overweight so I had to make some hard choices. Do I remove some clothes or take out some of the Bibles I had packed to give away… Well, I decided to remove the clothing and keep the Bibles in the suitcase.
Today while having our team meeting one of the women shared that when they travelled into the community she was so blessed to give away clothes. One of her delighted recipients was wearing a t-shirt that was so tattered it bearly was able to stay on her body… And that was her outfit. One tattered t-shirt. The team member then said, “Next year I am going to reconsider what I put into my suitcase. I will certainly pack less for me and far more clothing for these children.”
When she said this I had one of those Holy Spirit conviction moments. We are serving one of the poorest of the poor villages. Our driver informed me a couple of days ago that these people are poor! Very poor. Most do not have work available to them and they grow most if not all of what they are able to eat. All their clothes are hemmed, mended, and mended again. Handed down from child to child as they finally grow out of them. Yet, in spite of it all, I see so much joy in their eyes and on their smiling faces. Many, if not most, of the children exude a kind of joy I have never seen anywhere else. The kind I wish I had. The kind you hope for when the excitement of the new gadget wears off or the promotion at work has finally become the norm. I think that these poor families in Ishunga Uganda are teaching me that joy and contentment is not about what you will wear, or what you will drive, or what kind of job you have. The kind of joy I see here comes from simply being alive.
“What shall I wear?”… That question holds an entirely new meaning to me now.