Friday, June 14, 2013

Award Ceremony

Bright colorful dresses cover every lady and sharp suits with short fat ties cover every man. Being clean and well dressed is so important the people of Uganda and ceremonies tend to bring out their very best. Look closely, though, and you will see frayed collars and hems, tiny holes, or missing buttons. On second thought, don’t look too closely. Somehow my heart is a bit sad when I know these people are bringing out their very best and that their very best is worn and tattered. In the grand scheme of things, missing buttons mean very little, but still…

What ceremony would be complete without closing remarks? As I pondered my personal observations over the past four days, a theme seemed to come to the forefront…service. The people I tended to notice most were those who were trying hardest to blend into the background. The men who registered and tracked participants quietly in the back of the room. The women who set out and restacked chairs before and after the workshop. They worked so tirelessly and without a hint of recognition. I admired these people and their ability to have such humble hearts and doubted my own ability to do the same. These are the people I recognized with my closing remarks.

Pastor Amos, though, wouldn’t let me return to my seat without some trick up his sleeve. Several of the participants prepared gifts for me. There’s something about receiving a gift when people already have so little…it’s incredibly humbling. One man gave me a pestle and mortar along with a few wooden utensils handmade from his “assets” (following the teaching about asset-based development) found on his land. He said he’d never thought of such a thing as having the potential to earn money for him until participating in this workshop. Another man gave me seashells from Lake Albert near his home. Another gave just enough shillings to buy a drink on my long journey home.

Emma Survivor, a woman with whom a beautiful relationship was born, gave me a traditional dress. Sent into a small room to change, the dress fit me perfectly. I mean perfectly. How ever did she do that? I came out dancing and twirling and smiling a broad smile. What a lovely and needed gift. But the gift that somehow touched me the most…one man handed me a thin plastic bag with four little carrots the size of my fingers. His very best gift was four little carrots.

Oh Jesus, thank you for the unsurpassable blessing I receive when doing that which you have called me.