Friday, April 4, 2014

The field trip

This year our homeschooling co-op, in light of the deep blessings we witness from our collaborated families, decided we wanted to be increasingly outward focused. And that's why my (thankfully high-clearance) minivan was bouncing along a rust-colored road several kilometers outside of Kampala, caravanning with other unfortunate vehicles toward a village school: A field trip for our kids.
The morning began with an extended recess in their dirt lot, with around two hundred kids. There was no playground and only a handful of toys, so ta-da! The crazy white people are the entertainment.

W. shows one of the students one of his prized possessions: his watch.
That's when your mind looks around, takes inventory (okay--rocks, dirt, lots of kids, camera) and starts getting creative. Races, train (could've been Uganda's longest conga line), Follow the Leader, the hokey-pokey, soccer: It was a sweaty morning. I'm telling you, a lot of my ministry effectiveness has to be my willingness to look like a nut. I think locals think it's because I'm white. My secret's safe with you, right?

A volunteer from Switzerland draws pictures and letters in the dust with the children.


C. holding the hand of a new friend.
Then, all of us were herded into a wood-and-tin structure for chapel, involving a lot of drum-beating; zealous but occasionally unintelligible singing at the top of the lungs; translation from English to Luganda and vice versa.
Our group was the visiting act. We presented two songs, with posters and actions, from Seeds Family Worship that we'd learned in our co-op character time. In retrospect, the songs were a bit too complicated for those learning English as a second language. But we were warmly received (physically, too--there were a lot of bodies in that room!), and it was a great experience from our kids.

I came away grateful in so many respects: for the gifts small and large that my children enjoy in their education and comforts, but also that they jumped in and got dirty in an absolute crush of chaos and children who wanted to touch them, pull on them, and feel their hair. It is a blessing that sinks into my soul when I see my kids wearing their "enthusiastic" face to get another child so different from them into a game , or perhaps playing soccer in a way that looks completely oblivious to all their differences, or nurturing someone they don't know. It was even moving when they were sweating through a long and confusing chapel that wasn't their own, simply persevering because we'd asked them to, and love means patient service.
In the back of my brain, it reminds me when my dad told me he wanted to pass on his farm to one of his children, then had all daughters. But when we chose careers in ministry as he did later in life, he remarked that this is the kind of "family business" that he wanted far more to hand down. I think that's how I felt when I saw my kids. All of us love to see our kids develop hearts toward what we truly value, like compassion.
This week, I'm thankful for slightly uncomfortable, somewhat amazing field trips.

No comments: