finding joy in the simple things

In an effort to give you a picture of what life is like here, I want to share with you both the heartbreak and the joy. With every day comes a little bit of both. Yesterday was all about the joy. God has put me here with some extremely fun and joyful people. Yesterday was a national government holiday in Uganda, so everyone was “off” for the day. After breakfast and our daily group devotional, a few of us decided to go to town. The main purpose of the outing was to visit a place called “Green Shops”. When I first visited this place last week, I was surprised and thrilled.

You see, back home I loved thrift store shopping. When I left the States I selfishly wondered what it would be like not to be able to drop by the Goodwill once a week. Well, God sent me a little blessing. “Green Shops” are these little thrift stores full of second hand clothes, surprisingly nice goods at super cheap prices. Last week they were having a sale to get rid of their inventory to make room for new stuff. Everything in the store was 1000 Ugandan Shillings (about 38 cents each). We bought some things for our Ugandan cooks, and talked with the store staff about bulk buying the leftover clothes. Our plan was to distribute them to the needy people in the villages where we work. The store staff told us to come back on Wednesday (yesterday) to make the purchase.

Fast forward back to yesterday…We got to the shop and were disappointed to find out that they had already sold off the rest of their stock from last week’s sale. After Lindsey lectured the kid working there about not saving the clothes for us, we decided to make the most of our trip. We shopped around, tying our hair up in African scarves, laughing really hard, and taking pictures of this craziness. The people in the store were even laughing at us.

Green Shops

Our next stop was to visit a seamstress. Her tiny little shop was located on a side street and had barely enough room for some shelves, her sewing machine, a couple of chairs, and a refrigerator. She was wearing a dress she had made of beautifully colored African fabric, and behind her were shelves full of material in vibrant colors and bold graphic prints. The purpose of this stop was to pick out a fabric and a design for choir skirts. We visited a church last Sunday in a village called Kufu. They had the loveliest choir of young ladies who were wearing terribly tattered matching black skirts. We knew they would be blessed to have something special to wear as they use their talents to serve the Lord. So Lindsey had the idea to have skirts made by a local seamstress. As it turns out, the seamstress had been praying for a job like this to come along. She praised the Lord for this new project, thanked us for our giving hearts, and even sang us a worship song- translating the words from Luguisu to English so we could understand.

Seamstress shop              Mbale Side Street

Stop number three was for a few groceries and a radio. Our cooks Phiona, Immaculate, and Justine spend hours a day in the kitchen. They have two broken plastic outdoor chairs in the kitchen where we sometimes go sit and visit with them. They are hard working, full of joy, and hysterically funny. I’ve found that many Ugandans have a wacky sense of humor. I find myself laughing out loud all the time now because of the things they say. These ladies are strong in their faith and have beautiful singing voices, and their prayer for a radio for the kitchen was answered today!

After we returned home from town, we ate lunch and then went on another adventure. Phiona’s church is just down the street and they have a lunchtime service every day beginning around 1pm. We went today for the second day in a row. It’s such a blessing to be able to go to church in the middle of the day if you want! Pastor Ivan shared a powerful message about deliverance from evil (witchcraft is still prominent here in Uganda). Just as his sermon came to a close, heaven opened up and poured out rain. And it didn’t stop for about an hour. “ Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together” – Isaiah 45:8. We were thankful for the rain; a sign of God’s blessings here on earth. The combination of tarps and straw roof weren’t enough to hold back the water. We all huddled together (about 30 people) and waited while until the downpour subsided. Everyone felt bad for the Muzungu (white girl) without a jacket and soaking wet. I just thought it was really fun.

After we got back home I washed the mud off my feet, bundled up, and drank some tea to warm up. It’s been hot here (in the 90’s) but when it rains the temperature drops dramatically. Then I did something I never do: I took a nap! Rest isn’t usually something I do a lot of, but the pace of life here is much more laid back than a typical day in corporate America. So, I enjoyed my nap and didn’t feel guilty what so ever.
After dinner I joined the ladies in the kitchen and we talked, laughed, and sifted beans with the sweet sound of praise music in the background.

Can you see the joy found here in the simplicity of life? I am experiencing something I never allowed myself to in the hustle and bustle of everyday life back in the States. The richness of life is found in the blessings of relationships, the joy of laughter, the gift of thankfulness, the love of people, and the fullness of God’s presence. So today I challenge you to look for all of these things your life. Don’t miss even one of the blessings God has for you today.



2 thoughts on “finding joy in the simple things

  1. Thanks for the snapshot of your day! I feel like I spent the day with you, Angela, Carolina, Phiona, and all of the gang. I’m so thankful that God’s blessings come in all shapes and sizes. (And you take a nap anytime you can. You are probably about 10 years overdue for naps!)

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