In Which I Am Humbled Again And Again

There are lots of sights and sounds from Uganda that will stay with me forever, but for some reason last Tuesday’s home visit seems to be on constant replay in my mind. I can’t think of anything in recent memory that has affected me so profoundly, and every single time I close my eyes to rest or to try to sleep, I see a mental slideshow of that afternoon.

We went to see a 21 year-old mother and her little boy. Their home is in a small village, and to get there we had to walk through several narrow alleyways that are bisected by drainage ditches. Three families share one outdoor restroom – which is located behind this brick wall.

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This is the young mama praying while she held her little boy; I will always remember their sweet faces.

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The home next door was empty, so I asked the Compassion worker who was with us if I could take some pictures. For whatever reason, it struck me as completely surreal.

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When our home visit was over, we walked slowly back through the village.

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A couple of hours later we had a worship service at a nearby Compassion project; several mothers and children from the village were there with us. And when I saw the mom we visited walk to the front of the church to sing for us, I thought my heart might explode right then and there.

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She lives in a one-room house in the middle of a remote, impoverished village.

I live in a way-too-many-rooms house in the middle of American suburbia.

And I wonder if I’ve ever known the kind of hope that she has, if I’ve ever experienced a faith that’s as pure and unencumbered by the things of this world.

The woman and her friends were singing a song they’d written about how Compassion has helped their families. They see every meal, every vaccination, every mosquito net, every dose of medicine, every bit of help from Compassion as God’s provision for them. They are deeply grateful.

And I get ticked off in the grocery store if my favorite brand of coffee is out of stock or if the line at the deli requires me to wait more than two minutes for my sliced turkey.

Perspective. It’s a mighty good thing. And that day – in the middle of a remote Ugandan village that has no power, no running water, no telephone lines and no cable television – I found tons of it.

I pray that I never forget.

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Comments

  1. I sit here wanting to come up with something coherent and elegant to say, but I can’t. I found my perspective in Ethiopia last summer, and following along to Uganda helped bring it back a little.

  2. Oh, how we need this perspective…

  3. Perspective, dished out daily here at Boomamaland.

  4. I was so afraid that I would forget what I saw in Honduras and some of the edges have softened but I will never forget. Your pictures look so similar to the ones I took. I try to explain it to people by saying that I was grateful before but I’m grateful in a different way now.

  5. Sophie, I never will forget the thought I had when I was out in a village in Nicaragua that looked much like your pictures and needed to go to the bathroom (really bad). One of the women took me behind the building we were at for a makeshift medical clinic and showed me this literal hole-in-the-dirt with a little curtain around it. I was so humbled that I cried when I thought of the many homes in the US that men and women have their OWN PRIVATE bathrooms in the same house! I will NEVER forget it!

  6. Thank you for sharing your perspective with me. I need it.

  7. I always like this quite by Bono:

    “Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who God is or if God exists–most will agree that if there is a God, God has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives…I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill…I hope so. He may well be with us in all manner of controversial stuff…maybe, maybe not. But the one thing on which we can all agree, among all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.”

  8. I need that kind of perspective, too.

  9. Thank you Sophie for sharing that with us.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing. What you write about perspective is so true. I have enjoyed (doesn’t seem like the right word in this case) your trip posts.

  11. All ya’ll’s stories continue to touch me. Thanks, and I’m glad the trip was so great on so many levels!

  12. These pictures give me chills. That mama is the same age as I am and her little boy looks about my Troy’s age. She loves her boy as much as I do mine, and she wants to care for his needs as much as I do, and yet, if nobody helps, how can she? This trip of yours has certainly hit something deep inside my heart…

  13. Awesome post! Especially in the midst of our too-spoiled american lives.

    The pics make me want to adopt right this second!

  14. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I have been touched and moved by your stories, as well as Shaun’s and Shannon’s. We’re on our way to move to Guatemala (missions), and this is just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  15. Perspective is a powerful thing. Thanks so much for sharing those pictures…they are enough to make me catch my breath.

    And welcome home!

  16. I’m new to your blog. I clicked over from Lysa Terkeurst’s site just in time to read your blogs from Africa. This one today has impacted me…I thank you for the perspective, too.

    J

  17. Leanne from Canada says:

    You are wise to pray that you will never forget….it can be easy after many years for the edge to be lost. God can keep it fresh!! These pictures (as many others have also commented) are like mine from the jungles of Zaire when I was 21 and lived for 6 weeks with my single missionary aunt (35 years in Africa) on a remote outpost medical station. I enjoyed the company of some of the most content people that I’ve ever met who had nothing compared to our standards….I think our standards are messed up!! They had true joy…you could see it in their eyes and on their faces. Obviously true joy does not come from the stuff we have…we all know this and yet we seem to struggle with wanting it/needing it. God save us from our culture!! On this side of 42 with a couple more decades of perspective, I wonder if it is perhaps easier to have a pure heart before God from a position of “want” than from a position of “plenty”. I need to need God more than ever in my life…I never want to allow myself the comfort of forgetting that. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  18. Nothing witty to say. Just Thank you, dear Sophie . . . for stopping me in my tracks. Perspective, indeed!

  19. Thanks for sharing. We have so much as Americans and yet God’s love is so big… bigger than any of our stuff or lack thereof. Hope you recover quickly from the jetlag!

  20. Then you have truly been set apart by God for a wonderful purpose–to spread some hope. I love you, dearly! You are not only blessed, but out of your rich stores, you give every bit of it away. And then let Him refill again.

    Keep on talkin’ about this trip. I’m hanging on every word.

  21. “To much has been given, much will be required.” I grew up in East Africa and have, 20-years later, decided that this verse out of Luke applies primarily to my perspective. I was given an incredible gift from God to be able to grow up in a place that had a phenomenal, lasting impact on my worldview. The question for me here and now is, what will I do with that information now that I’ve acknowledged it? Will I wait another 20 years or so until my own three small children are moving independently on their own, or do I step out now so that I can attempt to build a legacy of giving into our own little family and perhaps multiply the blessing someday?

    I choose to act now.

  22. Perspective!!! Gratitude. I’m crying as I read. God help us to be grateful!

  23. Amen. I really do think our “plenty” clouds our perspective, keeps us from realizing that our everything is from God…

  24. Wow, amazing and it does truly give us all some perspective. Thanks so much for sharing.

  25. Thanks for bringing some of that perspective home to us.

    BTW, how in the world did you manage to not sneak a few of those little cherub-faced cuties into your luggage and bring them home with you?!

  26. sophie, perspective is definitely something that my hubby and I have received through the compassion blog experience. I love the pictures
    Kim

  27. Wow … humbling. I have been blessed, convicted, shocked, and excited while experiencing this trip with you all. I’m sure you are mentally drained, but God HAS been glorified. Thank you for being a willing vessel.

  28. I gave a shout out on my blog — to your site and Compassion International. Just wanted to be sure it’s okay with you!

  29. I just…
    Thank you.

  30. My heart breaks to hear the stories of the poverty. I am so blessed. I don’t deserve it. I’m no better than that momma who has to share an outdoor bathroom. God loves me no more. I am humbled.

  31. “…a faith that’s as pure and unencumbered by the things of this world….”

    That is EXACTLY the sentiment that had me sobbing in Guatemala 5 years ago. On that particular day I cried for my OWN children…who, although they have many material “blessings and privileges”…will grow up in a culture so full of “excess” that they will struggle to have a faith that is as pure and joyful and “unencumbered” as what I saw in those Guatemalan people and what you saw in Africa.

  32. Perspective…that is the key.

    I am like Holly….hanging on every word of your trip….I’ll never tire from it.

    Blessings and sweet dreams Sophie.
    Fran

  33. I was really mad about having to wait 20 minutes for my food in the Captain D’s drive thru until I read this post. I pray that my perspective remains focused on what really matters.

  34. Thank you for sharing this, Boomama. What a great reminder on perspective.

  35. That’s perspective as only God can give. It reminds me of Shaun’s post about Compassion’s slogan that he put up just before y’all left.

  36. Perspective is humbling, isn’t it? Thank you for the reminder of how God provides for all of His children. And how He desires to use us to bless those less fortunate. Which also blesses us in the process.

  37. I found my perspective in China last May when we adopted our then 4.5 year old daughter. I only have to look into her eyes each morning for a reality check. Thank you for taking this trip, you inspired us to “adopt” 8 year old Naomi from Uganda.
    God bless you Boo!!

  38. completely knocked over on the inside to read and see this. I know it’s not why you went, but I’m sure as nails that someday when you stand before God, there are going to be mentions of the repercussions of this trip you made, the eternal difference it made in many lives, many perspectives. I will likely never meet face to face, this side of heaven the little girl I get to sponsor, but because of you making this trip I can see her world just a bit. For that I am so very thankful, and crushed at the very same time.

  39. Wow. I pray we all never forget these pictures and stories we’ve heard through your experience. I know my family has been moved to sponsor a child. I am hoping that, through sponsorship, I will keep that perspective, and teach my child to do the same. What power we have to make a difference.

    Thanks so much for sharing. God is using you in big ways.

    Love, Sarah TN

  40. What a wonderful story.
    I know that I need some perspective. I so appreciate these stories. I don’t know that I could handle leaving those precious people behind. How hard was it to walk away from them knowing how they had to live? It’s a reality that is hard to think about.

  41. I understand what you mean, somewhat. Obviously I did not take the journey that you did but after deciding to sponsor a child just last night and not being able to stop thinking about him, I am trying to find that balance too. I mean yesterday I found a shirt in my closet that I didn’t even remember I owned and I felt quite guilty about such a scenario. I only hope and pray that I can help somewhat with my sponsorship…

  42. My man and I have been praying for y’all and discussing your trip all week. Thanks for being the hands and feet of Christ and allowing us to live vicariously through you on this trip.

  43. So now that you know this reality, what’s going to change in your life?

  44. indeed

  45. Look at her…what amazing strength! Like you, I often wonder if I could be that strong if my circumstances in life were hers. What a pure faith.

  46. Amen.

    Keep sharing, so we can all keep perspective.

  47. Anne was the first to make me cry you win runner up! Thanks for reminding me. H

  48. Hi Boo,
    Carlos’ blog set me free yesterday, because I had been feeling really pathetic about our riches,lives,shallow American living, and he said, “Don’t be discouraged by your blessings, thank God for them and use them for His glory.”

    That was awesome.

    Also, we got our packet of info. on our newly sponsored Compassion child yesterday. I cried when I saw her sweet face and read about her. I love her already and have been praying for her daily.

    Kelly in Michigan

  49. I remember when a team from our church went to Ethiopia; they were struck by the length of the worship services. The people they encountered were happy to have church for hours. They felt humbled and guilty for complaining when our services go over an hour. It makes me sad to see how we, who have everything, still grouse and complain over the small things. I hope to take a trip like this one day to gain perspective and to reach out to our global community of believers. It is a blessing to see how much they love the Lord. Thanks for your posts!

  50. I don’t have anything to say, really, I just feel the need to comment because every post I am touched.

    I’m just so glad to have been able to share in a little part of this through your writing and pictures.

    thank you :)

  51. We all need to be humbled. And compassionate. And very thankful for the blessings that we do have. I wish more people could take the journey you have experienced. You have blessed us all by sharing it.

  52. Sophie,

    I too will never forget that day. A beautiful and moving post that captures the moment for me all over again. I am fighting back the tears as these words blur.

    Randy

  53. Sophie, Thank you so very much for sharing with us. And this perspective thing, you SAID IT. Amen.

  54. “And I wonder if I’ve ever known the kind of hope that she has, if I’ve ever experienced a faith that’s as pure and unencumbered by the things of this world.”

    We so often think of our things and ourluxuries as blessings…but they really can be huge stumbling blocks, can’t they?

  55. Amen Sophie.

  56. Wow. I don’t know who could have expressed it better. You make us feel such a part of this with you. Thank you.

    and to think at one point thought you would have nothing to say…or wouldn’t be able to find the right words…hmmmm

    :-)

  57. Thank you, Sophie.

    Just…speechless…

  58. I don’t know if I’ve ever commented before, but I had to let you know that I, too, am gaining perspective thanks to your posts about your trip.

    Yesterday I was all upset at my daughters teacher for ignoring my emails, and I was writing a scathing email to her to (rightfully) complain. I had to take my daughter to church before I could hit ‘send’ and during the drive I was thinking of your posts, and how my ‘problem’ was really no problem at all. God has been so good to me.

    I went home and immediately deleted the email.

    It is such a small thing, I know, but I did it in honor of those who can’t even fathom what email is, let alone that my frustration was so great over so small a thing.

    Thanks for giving me a bit of perspective, myself. God bless you!

  59. Laura Bowers says:

    Luke 18:25

    25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    This scripture has been playing through my mind as I have read your posts from Uganda. Thank you for going. I am praying that as your vision of the world has been enlarged, so will be your vision of our great God.

  60. How do you pick. Out of the 1000’s, how do you pick just one? How?

  61. BooMama, I just want to thank you for sharing your heart regarding this trip to Uganda. God has used your posts to speak to my heart. I appreciate your perspective and am slowly sifting through each and every word slowly as I listen to His voice. Thank you.

  62. What a great reminder.

    Whenever I’m upset about a situation , I *try* to think of someone who would see my situation as a blessing and I try to look at it from their perspective. My frustration *usually* fades away pretty quickly.

    Please tell me someone recorded the song. I’d love to hear it.

  63. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your poignant reminder…wow, what a clear picture you paint of this memory! Thank you…may God continue to put words to your experience!

  64. Please keep writing! You are touching hearts in a very special and personal way.

  65. Dear BooMama,
    I was so excited to read your posts about your trip and everything you and Shannon have shared has had me in tears. I just had to share this- last weekend, my husband & I attended Jubilee, a conference for college students, held every year in Pittsburgh by the CCO, an amazing college ministry organization my hubby worked with for 8 years. Anyway… Saturday evening, we had the opportunity to hear Chuck Colson speak. Following his talk, a lovely young woman named Olive, came and shared about the ministry of Compassion International. Olive is 29 years old and grew up in Uganda. She was blessed to be a Compassion child and that support helped her to become the articulate, Christ-filled woman who spoke to a crowd of over 2000 people. She is now a social worker in Georgia, helping children and families in America. It was so amazing to hear her stories of what growing up in Uganda was like and when I returned home from the conference and realized you’d be in Uganda, with Compassion, I just cried at the beauty of it. It was so awesome to see this amazing young woman whose life was literally saved because of Compassion’s ministry. Blessings on you for being a part of an awesome organization and sharing your heart.
    With Love,
    Lisa

  66. I have so enjoyed all the posts about your trip, but have yet to comment because I just couldn’t find the words. I’m still processing all I’ve seen and read from you and Shannon. I can’t even comprehend how you must be feeling. But today, I do at least want to say thank you for sharing some of your hard-earned perspective with us. It’s been a true blessing.

  67. Oh, I had to pop back over here after watching Shannon’s video of you two on the airplane. I just wanted to say that I hope that conjunctivitis has cleared up.

  68. Thank you for sharing these pictures and your experiences. I am truly being blessed by each of your posts.

  69. What a beautiful young woman! She just glows with the love of the Lord. And sweat, I’m sure.

    Perspective, indeed. I’m praying for more.

  70. SophieBoo ~

    I read this yesterday…got chills….

    Read it again, got chills A.G.A.I.N. The images haunt; I can only imagine having seen them–TOUCHED THEM–first hand.

    Perspective IS a good thing :). Praying for it to “stick” in your brain like white on rice!

    And……….I just HAD to pop over from Shannon’s and tell you (once again) that you’re stinkin’ PRECIOUS! “…a touch of “the” conjunctivitis…” hahahahaha! cracks me up just thinkin’ about it again :). I’ll ask you what I asked Shannon: Is that like a little bit pregnant???

    Smiles, lots of ’em :).

  71. I hope none of us ever forget. Even though I wasn’t there, I have been changed.

  72. The story is told of a painter who was commissioned to portray a run-down church. But instead of an old, tottering ruin, he painted a magnificent edifice of modern design. Through the windows could be seen an ornate collection box for the gifts of the fashionable worshipers. Above it hung a sign bearing the inscription “For Missions.” Sadly, the box was covered in cobwebs.
    – Paul Van Gorder

  73. Thank you for sharing those pictures with us! I sit here in my comfortable chair sipping hot coffee feeling much more humble.

  74. Incredible. Thank you.

  75. Dudette. I just saw the vid at Shannon’s. I don’t even know what to say about your role in it. I mean, you had that camera at your beck and call girlfriend.

  76. your story reminds me of a psalm i was reading a week or so ago
    Psalm 78 talking about the Israelites and how God fed them and they ate the food of angels and V.29 They ate till they had more than enough, for he had given them what they craved.v 30 But before they turned from the food they craved more, even while it was still in their mouth.
    It reminds me of myself – before I even thank Him for all I have – food, car, a roof over my head, I crave more…

  77. Each picture is worth more than a thousand words.

  78. Amen, Sophie. Amen

  79. I see that it’s very humbling after experiencing such that you have experienced. As a highschool grad. gift for our daughter, she and her dad went to Kenya with a team to preach at a Pastor’s conference. She had the opportunity to visit villages such as the ones in your pics. She too came back profoundly changed. I’m glad she had the opportunity to go. Thanks for the updates and your perspective. Have a great day.

  80. that last picture of the mama singing with her sweet boy clinging to her legs…

    i have no words….

  81. Years ago when my kids were babies, I was up late one night nursing my daughter, and watching some late night TV. I remember watching a show ( no idea what it was), that showed a mother somewhere in Africa, nursing her daughter in her “home.” She had 5 other children in a hut similar to your pictures. It has a dirt floor, and blankets and kids laid all over the place. This dear mom spoke with a smile on her face as she spoke of God’s great grace in her life.
    I sat there in disbelief watching this mom on her dirt floor, with blankets laying around. I kept thinking about her as I put my daughter back in her crib, and played some gentle music for her, changed her diaper on the nice wooden diaper changer that I could stand next to, put the diaper in the diaper genie, and got back in my warm bed.
    That image has stuck with me…..it sounds like you actually got to see that image that brought me perspective!
    Thanks so much for this post and the reminder for all of us thankful Americans!

  82. You have said and shown it all… beautiful and heartbreaking and true and eternal. Thank you.

  83. It’s been almost 10 years now since I spent a couple weeks right after my high school graduation in Lima, Peru helping to build a church and run a vbs and share the love of Jesus door to door. I came back from that trip sure that I was a changed person (and I believe I am) but the passion I felt for those people, and the perspective I came home with has dulled a bit. A few things recently have drawn that to my attention (one being your account of your trip and another being an amazing effort by my church’s youth group to raise money and awareness for a baby center for babies whose parents have (or have died of) AIDS in Kenya (http://kenyanight.blogspot.com/)).

    All that to say, I’m so grateful our God is merciful and our God is good!

  84. Those faces…I cannot imagine all the emotions you felt. I am sure it gave you a perspective that you could have only gotten by being there in person. Thanks again for sharing your experiences!!!

  85. I am crying right now. I LOVE LOVE Compassion. I am so excited you got to go with them. I hope I can go meet my child someday! His compassion never fails!