Geoff and I take a walk every morning and often in the evenings. Rarely is the dog, Bubbly, not an accompaniment to the routine. She may temporarily disappear into the morning darkness to investigate a smell, but she always rejoins the well-worn route, frequently just as we engage the turn toward home.
In the evenings she remains closer to us, and especially keeps a keen visual on my whereabouts as we meander sometimes off New Hope Uganda property near village dwellings. Apparently, our predictable path has created a love/hate curiosity in the village children. The simple talent of my dog to provide timid, dog-fearing children with a giggle and the urge to run out of their houses or gardens shouting, “Bubb-boo-lee, Bubb-boo-lee, Bubb-boo-lee” got me thinking. If that black, smelly, furry, four-legged creature offers such a sweet diversion from the mundane nature of life, what do I offer those around me? Which got me thinking further...I live among extremely talented people.
Here at New Hope Uganda, Geoff and I have the rare privilege of working while living alongside our more than 170 staff members. Only 20 of the staff members are non-Ugandan. Who are these non-Ugandans who have left their home countries to immerse themselves in another culture offering themselves and their talents to others? Of course, we’ve all come to minister to the children of New Hope Uganda in one way or another, but most of us add “side-talents” to the mix.
In our small group of Foreign Staff we have a cosmetologist who has kept us cut, dyed, frosted, highlighted and coiffed for almost 15 years. And to add to her line up of talent she has recently been sought out by the plethora of New Hope Uganda delivering mamas as a very helpful and able doula. Plus, if one HAS to prepare something gluten free, she can help the product result in something exquisite.
Another of our missionary mamas is an accomplished, homespun-nutritionist for all your gluten free, dairy free and dye free needs. And, if you develop a hankering for homemade cheese, she’s the expert to seek.
There is an artist who has designed, painted, decorated and sweetened the environment of our primary school classrooms in the last two years, as well as created our beautiful annual themed banners for our church structure each year for more than 14 years.
We have a theologian delivering well-studied gems on God’s character and truth to both small groups and the church at large. He is also a published author on the topic of orphan ministry.
And speaking of authors and speakers one of us is working on her second publication even as she excels in bringing the message of true womanhood to myriads of our children and Staff at New Hope Uganda, and also to many across Uganda.
An accomplished physical therapist has found numerous designs for “useless” cardboard. She makes countless implements which function as utilitarian tools for the kids and staff in our Special Needs ministry. She is also VERY adept at giving periodic help and suggestions for exercises to alleviate various aches and pains! I am thankful to have personally benefitted from her expertise!!!!
Imagine having to remember all the details of upper level high school math as you homeschool your older teenager. I can leave fretting behind now that we have a missionary math guru who is willing to fill in the gaps for Toby as he tackles the more abstract mathematical concepts. Not only that, but she has provided an afternoon diversion for Acacia as they work together in the NHU Academy library. Praise God for those who instill unique blessings into our kids’ lives!
An expert administrator might not be the first thing thought of when ruminating on the talents of your friends, but one of our American Staff could pretty much revamp Chip and Jo’s well-oiled Magnolia Market métier eliciting a hearty, “Thanks for taking care of the mishmash! We hadn’t thought of that approach!”
Another has the uncanny knack to advance, above expected pace, numerous committee group meetings. Doesn’t everyone love meetings????? Well, with him at the helm it is not the usual death trap.
Hungry for something you wouldn’t expect to eat while in the remote bush of Uganda? A long time missionary has seen it all in her 30+ years on the field. She has learned to work with little, yet has garnered the talent for laying a table with amazingly scrumptious creations on short notice with limited resources. No matter how rushed she might be before you arrive she has the ability to promote a sense of calm and welcome unmatched anywhere else I’ve experienced.
Hmmmmm, a sense of calm, isn’t there an essential oil promising such? We have someone who knows the answer to that question! She keeps a healthy supply of oils for most ailments and generously shares.
Or, if you desire, you may seek the more traditional approach with our own medical doctor who recently came on staff with us. What a blessing to be able to consult with a friend on site when in the past we might have had to travel almost two hours into town. In fact, the other day I stopped to talk casually with even another medical doctor who is serving here for just a few weeks. I quickly shot off a volley of questions just as if we were shooting the breeze, as I hung out our van window, having interrupted his short walk to another location in the ministry. These are not things we take for granted out here in the bush!!!!
And the children in our care also benefit in other diverse, perhaps more seemingly minute, but still important ways from the missionaries serving with us. A good example is a sort of bicycle shop taken up residence next door as the newest addition to our teaching staff can be seen most Saturdays on her porch repairing the many bicycles of nearby children.
And last, but by any means never least, is the one accomplished at listening intensively even amidst the chaos of numerous children shouting and running amuck nearby. I do not think I have ever left her presence without her gently placing her hands on my shoulder or back as she sincerely prays for God’s hand to move in my life. Immediately there is a feeling of peace which floods my being.
My dear friend, this community is unique and we are grateful to have spent the last thirteen years among those who employ their God-given talents to bring life and joy to those with whom they share a small piece of Ugandan dirt.
And speaking of dirt, I need to finish this up and go reroute my talented, “village famous” dog from the cavernous hole she’s currently digging to China as I have the unfortunate talent of stumbling in her works of art.