And then there were three: Ogoloi – By Lori Somers
Friday, August 21, 2015
I was up early with the roosters, grabbed my coffee and headed outside to my favorite perch in the courtyard. I’ve been missing several sunrises. We are headed to Ogoloi today, our third CarePoint that is just down the road from Soroti.
The word “expectations” is ringing loud in my ears this morning. As I sat on the stoop sipping coffee, God was revealing to me what it feels like to strip away the expectations of the world (and family) that we tend to carry for no reason. I made a point to recognize the freedom that God allows when the world is stripped away. My visits to Africa are always so revealing in many ways, when you have nothing to “do” but lay down your life and serve. There is such freedom in that for me. There are people who need to be needed or they have no sense of worth. I’m very opposite that I don’t want to be depended upon. I don’t find my sense of worth in others depending on me or needing me. If life were only that simple. I want to bring back that sense of stripping the world away and freedom being poured into me. Freedom from captivity. Freedom from what other’s expect my life should look like. One of my prayers in the last three years has been to live in the fullness of Christ and serve out of that fullness.
By design, the pattern of my life should look much different, it should be an original. My faith walk will not look like any one else’s. By design, I see God in each of these children in the CarePoints. I see the life in their eyes. I hear the song in their hearts. I feel the heartbeat of the Heavenly Father who watches over them. Their day-to-day life may look much different than mine, they may sleep in the dirt under a straw roof, and may carry water each day from the well. But if they are the meek, if they are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, if they are the merciful and pure in heart, if they are the peacemakers, I want what they have. For they will inherit the earth, they will be filled, they will be shown mercy. They will see God and they will be called Children of God. And I want that.
When you strip away the world’s expectations and serve God in a far-away land you taste that freedom that God wants for each of us. I let the heavy weight of expectation fall off as I sipped my last few drops of coffee. Everyone was stirring including the roosters and it was time for breakfast and to meet the next smiles waiting for us in Ogoloi.
Welcome to Ogoloi. We had the typical opening ceremonies with music and dancing when we arrived in Ogoloi. The children didn’t stay on their side of the tent. They came and snuggled right up to us, sitting on our side of the tent. They mingled. They giggled and their welcome was warm.
When our team introduced ourselves, they wanted to know the typical things about us, our family, our jobs, but they also wanted to know if we were Christians. So one-by-one, our team stood up and testified to the Christ who lives within us and loves us and who loves them.
It was nice to have a very low-key day of hand-holding, visiting, taking pictures and getting to know the kids of Ogoloi. We took a tour around the grounds of the CarePoint as the guardians showed us their projects.
I loved that they ‘rent’ sewing machines.
Their goal is to make school uniforms for surrounding schools to provide an income.
The items they sewed are hanging across the top of the windows.
The well is on the grounds and this is definitely a social part of the kid’s day when they meet at the well for laughter and duty.
A woodworking project
A building project to learn how to lay bricks.
We heard the murmur of a planned soccer match for the ‘girls’ of Ogoloi against our team. Ha. Ha. and Ha. On the way to said soccer match, four girls took me on a detour so they could show me their school. These girls chatted it up, giggled and asked me lots of questions. They read me the class roster of each grade and how many students in each class. As far as I was concerned, I wanted to take a detour under the tree far away from the soccer match.
And so we landed under the tree. They talked my leg off. I discovered you can’t use slang with them because they take things literally. So you have to be earnest and clear in your sentences. They wanted to know if I washed my clothes by hand or in a machine. They decided to teach me eTeso words. They spelled out a list of words in eTeso and English. Then they said I was going to have an exam. And I had to remember all of the words they just taught me. I had an idea to run for the goalie, but decided to humor them and let them test me. I didn’t pass.
After the soccer match. Flip-flops, skirts and all. I’m so proud of them!
We headed to the bus after the soccer match and on the road to Soroti. We made it through our team meeting before the power outage that lasted all night and into the next morning.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
I was up early with the chickens and roosters for morning coffee. It is kind of nice to have someone to chat with in the mornings. Joseph, our trusty bus driver was up and getting ready so we chatted about our families and lives. He made the comment to me, “You are so strong.” My reply was always “The JOY of the LORD is my strength.”
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Today I was reminded…present yourselves as a living sacrifice… Love does… Love transforms…
The girls found me right away this morning at the CarePoint. Their giggles and laughs were the strength of my heart today. Miriah was by my side all day. What a sweetie.
Today was full of nail polish, jump ropes and watching the kids taste ice water for the first time. I talked to an older man under the tree today while he sat on his motorcycle, that he uses as a taxi to make money. He has a P2 education and spoke English very well. He asked me for an English bible. His name was William.
I went with Joel and Ashton on a home visit in the afternoon. I love these special times where they welcome you into their homes and family. I’m sure we were quite the crew getting out of the truck. I’m old enough to be Joel’s mother, and Ashton could be my grandson. They didn’t ask if we were related.
The gramma (tata) is 100 years old
Very proud of his school work
lots of space and fruit trees
Back at the CarePoint: mounds of rice to sift through looking for rocks and sticks
Very proud of their uniforms and their work in the kitchen
This is our last night in Soroti. We have all been thinking about what to purchase for our sponsored children, and what they ‘need’ through the CarePoint. I gave my list to Dylan for my two kids. Juma will get a mattress to sleep on and a mosquito net to sleep under. Jovia will get a pair of school shoes. It hardly seems enough. Less than $50 US money can give a child a soft place to sleep and a net to protect him from malaria; and a pair of shoes to walk to school.
We have to pack everything up and have it ready to load early in the morning. Will be on the road after church tomorrow for a 5 hour bus trip to the game park. I don’t want these CarePoint visits to end but tomorrow we will say good-bye to our new friends in Ogoloi.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
We started out today at the church, a little hut full of children and family. Harriett shared that she used to think when she heard a sermon, that it was for ‘this person or that person’ and now she knows when she hears a sermon it is for her. Dylan shared about the two kingdoms, the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of Heaven. Each day when we wake up, we have a choice which road we will take to which kingdom. They are opposite worlds.
I reached behind me to grab a hand while we were in church, and there was Miriah :). After church I saw her sisters who looked just like her and immediately recognized her mother. Miriah asked me to ‘greet’ her mother. All of the girls are beautiful just like their mother.
Group photo after church…all of us and more were in that hut!
We followed the walking path back to the CarePoint. I once again had girls holding my arms and hands ‘helping’ me back on the rugged path. On the way, Miriah would point out the plants in the garden and what each one was. I had to giggle when we rounded the corner and she pointed out a ‘cow’. They promised me the shortcut was shorter!
We gathered for closing ceremonies as a few tears started to fall. The impending good-byes were becoming reality once again. Children were close as they grabbed arms around their neck, as they held hands and looked into our eyes, knowing we had to leave. I asked Miriah if she was going home to play. She said, “No, I will cook with my mother.” She helps her mother cook for her family. She said she gets up early before the sunrise and starts the fire. I told Miriah I would keep her photo on my fridge so I could pray for her. She already has a sponsor who loves her very much. But who doesn’t love a few extra prayers.
I had such a feeling of hope as we left Ogoloi. This was the longest-supported CarePoint and there is a tangible difference between the three CarePoints. The outcome of sponsorship shines bright here.
For the final time, we loaded the bus, headed back to Soroti for lunch and headed down the road for a 5-hour ride. At 6 pm (10 am Iowa time) we came upon an accident in the road. Two women were pinned in a van. I think everyone but Ashton and I went to the accident scene. We didn’t know how long we’d be there, but we were digging through suitcases for rubber gloves. Off across the field, someone spotted a rainbow. It was a nod, a sign of protection for us. Thanks to whomever was praying for us on Sunday morning. God heard your prayer and we were safe.
Our lodging for the night. Two more sleeps before heading back to the U.S.