Serving as a missionary in East Africa, I am constantly bombarded with stories of woe followed by bold requests for money. I hate to admit that my heart becomes a little hard every time I’m asked for money…but it does. When was the last time a complete stranger off the street asked you for money? Not a single day passes where I’m not compelled to listen politely and decline gently. I’m not sure if it’s the asking or the declining that trouble me most. And here we are talking about inspiring generous living.
This story begins one hot Ugandan afternoon. A small, wrinkly grandmother occupied the taxi seat to my right as we lumbered down Entebbe Road. Her very best gomesi (traditional African dress) covered her frame while her lap-size satchel carried all four of her worldly possessions. Upon closer inspection, that gomesi was a bit worn at the edges and a button was missing, but she’d done her best to look presentable. Very likely a widow, perhaps this jjaja was returning from the village after helping her ailing sister. We rode in silence until that tiny woman climbed over me and left the taxi.
The rest of our ride went on uninterrupted. I became lost in reflecting on how hard the village women work in Uganda, how their bodies really show it, and how they continue on without complaint. A widow works twice as hard because she not only has to keep the home without the help of modern conveniences, but she also has to provide for family necessities. And here I fuss about having to do my laundry by hand. The conductor startled me from my daydream and the driver pulled to a stop. I handed over my money as I clambered around the 15 bodies that remained in the taxi. “No,” the conductor said, “that old woman paid your fare.”
My mouth caught flies as I stared after the taxi now hiking down Entebbe Road. The best surprises are definitely the ones you never expect…the ones you can never even dream of hoping for…the ones you don’t even know are possible. The best surprises are the ones that give you hope.
This story is dedicated to SO@50. I pray you are surprised by 50 stories of generous giving.