Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fruit




FRUIT |fro͞ot| (noun) -
1) the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food.
2) the result or reward of work or activity (or faith…)

Fruit. My mouth begins to water as I think of the succulent fruit in Uganda. Pineapples growing on the hills look eager to be sliced and enjoyed. Did you know pineapples grow in small bushes that just produce one pineapple at a time? It is quite amazing, and caught me a little off guard the first time I saw it. I am not sure what I expected, but I know it was not what lay before me. Avocados grow to a monstrous size compared to what we are accustomed to in the States. Equipped with a spoon and after adding a little salt, they make the best snack. The infamous Ugandan Jackfuit hangs high in trees looking similar to a spiny tumor with no definite shape. It is an orb of juicy sticky fruit. Even though it tastes great going down, stomach problems can soon follow. All of these fruits are the best I have ever had, but none of them rival the mango. I have written before about mangos and how they grow, but the taste of a mango picked straight from the tree is heavenly.

            The story below is from one year ago almost to the day. It was one I always wanted to write about but never had a chance. One year ago we witnessed God’s work produce great fruit. Many have heard this story, but I have never written it and I thought it was time.

            The days preceding July 17th all of the children began to get excited knowing they were going to Jinja to see the Nile River. Before we got the kids from the corrupt orphanage, they remained inside the gates for years never seeing past their dirt road and chain link fence. Trips like this would be thrilling to any child… or even me… but to these children, the excitement is on another level that most of us don’t understand. There had been decisions from many of the older children to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior in their lives earlier in the summer. During one night in devotional we decided to ask the older children what they knew about baptism. They knew… and eagerly decided it was what they wanted to do when we went to Jinja. My excitement rose even more. So on July 17th, we crammed in 42 people into a 32 passenger van/bus, and headed to Jinja. We had the Birmingham team in town that week and were so tightly packed in the bus every adult had a child in their lap. After the long drive, we first unloaded at the bungee jump over the Nile River. The most entertaining was one of the Ugandan workers, Mato, bungeed and screamed the whole way down. Soon after, we saw a 5 foot monitor lizard swimming in the river just below the bungee tower. Some decided it wasn’t for them.
After, we drove to Bujagali falls. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world. At this point, the Nile picks up tremendous speed crashing over rocks painting a breathtaking picture. Just downriver of the view that people travel to see, is a still quiet lagoon area where the water is shallow and safe. All of the team and children gathered together. Jon prayed for us and told everyone the meaning and importance of baptism. We eased into the chilly water. Deborah, Vanitah, Esau, Ronald, Ivan, Sharon, Waiswa, and Eddy all got baptized that day. To make it even more special to me personally, I got re-baptized as well. Davis and Emily also were re-baptized that day. I thought the day had peaked on the joy scale, but I never would have expected what was to come…

We took the children and team to a quaint restaurant in town to celebrate the day. We arrived to a large plate of chicken and chips for the children while adults began to place orders. Our plates of food arrived and it was a sight to see. We were outside underneath a long awning with over 40 people eating all around two long tables. Half way through the meal… our hearts were shattered. From the other side of the fence, the eyes of a young boy peered at me through the bushes. My curiosity studied him closely. My calloused heart and cynicism first wandered if he just wanted money to take back to someone that put him here. Maybe to buy someone alcohol or make money for his abusive father. He was maybe 9 years old. His shoes were torn and his ragged clothes hung on his protruding bones. It was easy to tell that this child was a street kid that rarely saw a meal. The restaurant managers would chase him off to guard the comfort of the guests. My comfort was being invaded. His suffering yet hopeful eyes pierced me. “Aggie… who is that boy?” one of us asked. Now the attention of a few of us was hooked on this child who hid behind the vines. It became obvious he hoped to fill his hungry stomach. “He is a homeless street child,” she said as she began to fight tears. All of us had nearly finished our food except some leftovers of some chicken and a few fries. Suzanne said, “Aggie, tell him to come here.” So she called out to him “jongu.” Our hearts broke even more when we saw his face light up realizing she was talking to him. He sat down with us at the table and began to devour the leftovers on the plate. He didn’t speak, just ate. He cleaned every bone. We didn’t speak. The silence was deafening. We gazed intently with a whirlwind of questions. A knot in my throat would not go away. A few had to leave out of fighting tears and not wanting the boy to see them cry over his pitiful situation. Two more boys with the same horrible malnourished look walked up seeing the food. Jon started buying plates of food. “Come... eat.” They ate as three more boys approached the tables. We gave them our seats and put more food in front of them. It was an afternoon lunch for us… but a feast for them. Then two of the Sozo boys, Hakim and Esau, came to the table. They are two of the oldest Sozo boys, around 12 and 14. Conversation struck up between them as the boys were finishing their food. I could see life being put back into these children with every bite. Esau and Hakim starting talking in Luganda to them. We watched and I desperately wanted to know what they were saying. I gave Aggie and look and she knew what I wanted. She began to translate. “Esau’s telling them to protect each other on the street. Don’t steal. Don’t fight.” I was overwhelmed watching fruit of God’s work being produced in front of my eyes. “He is telling the boys about his faith and what it means…” Humbled that I rarely share my faith with boldness, I felt the heart of a proud father watching one that I consider a son flourish in God’s design.

            This memory sticks with me because it shows fruit. Seeing Esau and Hakim be baptized and then turn around and share their faith with words of wisdom to these boys impressed me so much. Seeds were planted in these boy’s lives starting a few years ago and now their fruit is teaching us!
           
This is why Sozo exists. This is the reason I believe God placed us in Uganda to share life with Esau and his brothers and sisters. He wanted His children to have a chance. Not for just their sake, but for the sake of others, and for the sake of the name of Jesus. The fruit of this long-term ministry project seems slow to produce, and sometimes it is difficult, but it is obvious God is at work. This was evidence of it. Being raised by their culture, in their culture, these boys are pouring back into their culture. They are developing into leaders. They can talk to these street kids because they were once in the same situation. Hope can be communicated. Advice can be given. Love can be shared between them that we would never be able to do like they did.
           
The summer is coming to a close. I wish I would have blogged more, but the days are so constantly on go, I rarely have time to sit down and blog. When I find time for stillness, my mind is either fried, or I want to sleep, or be in God’s Word. God is doing great work here. I have so many more stories to tell. Over the month of August, I am going to try to tell them on this page. Keep updated.

Fruit is continuing to be produced. Sometimes in the places I expect the least. That is often how God works



2 comments:

  1. "It was an afternoon lunch for us... but a feast for them" this line says so much- thanks for sharing your words. your actions, and your faith-God Bless!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this story! You painted such a vivid picture...I felt like I, too, was sitting at the lunch table watching these young children eat. As mom said, "thanks for sharing your words, your actions, and your faith!" God Bless You, Allen!

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