The heart of a child, the love of a mother, sisters togetherRich Stigall
Nine women from the heartland of the US, collectively the mothers of 29 children, know the heart of a child. Like mothers everywhere, we understand that a child yearns for the love of a mother. As mothers, we are uniquely designed to create, carry and bear new life. It is simply our nature to nurture.
What happens in the spirit of a child when he or she is orphaned or abandoned, separated forever from the love of his mother? A little one, left utterly alone, scratching to survive in extreme poverty is devastatingly unimaginable for most of us who have been loved as sons and daughters and given love as mothers and fathers.
It is that deep heart and soul yearning to nurture and mother a child. Love is what brought us to Uganda.
On Saturday, our team presented an all day retreat for over 50 women from the Uganda Mother’s Union. This was the first event of its kind. Together we reciprocated a warm welcome of singing as we moved in a large circle of sisterhood. We then played the game, Mingle, Mingle: we all moved & mingled around the room until the leader shouted a number. This was the signal to quickly grab each other into a group corresponding to the number called. Much laughter ensued as we excitedly hugged each other into groups! Our final “Mingle, Mingle” formed us into our small groups for the day’s retreat.
Pastor Penny Ellwood of our team and three others enacted a short skit of women helping carry a very heavy basket of daily burdens’ signified by broken pieces of bricks in a very real basket carried upon their heads. You can imagine we provided a bit of humor for our Ugandan sisters as we American women attempted to lift and carry heavy baskets upon our heads and walk at the same time!
We continued with the story of a Samaritan woman who met a great Hebrew teacher at Jacob’s well one midday. This time this particular woman could fill her jug of water, without the reproach of the other women in the village. This teacher knew all the brokenness; he knew her whole life story and engaged her in discussion. She quickly recognized that this teacher was a prophet, the awaited Messiah. That day at the well, she received love, forgiveness and living water, her heart was transformed and she shared her story with many.
Our team members each facilitated a small group sharing times of brokenness, times when we have had unexpected encounters with God and times when we felt all alone. We shared the poem, “Footsteps.” We listened and shared tears of remembrance as stories flowed of suffering and sorrow, yet, also times of thankfulness. Remembering those difficult times: no school fees for our children’s education, unemployment, domestic abuse, children who have died without medicine, sickness, AIDS, husbands who have died, hunger, thirst, exhaustion, remembering that only one set of footprints were visible in the sand because it was then that he carried us in His arms.
We took time to draw symbols on paper covered bricks of the heavy burdens we have been carrying. As we shared our heaviest burden with the group we laid our brick in a basket. As the basket was filled it became very heavy indeed. One woman could not lift it alone, but together, each circle of women lifted the basket and carried it to the foot of the cross. Then each woman took her brick, her greatest burden, and offered it to God and laid in down. Soon, each basket was empty and light as a feather. We tossed it into the air and our Ugandan sisters broke into a song of praise: Tukutendereza Yesu!
Our spirits were lifted and many tears of joy and laughter led us to a circle in the grass, a circle of celebration. Our sisters with drum beat pounding, led us into the Kiga, their native dance of joy! (see videos below)
As mothers, we came together, loving the heart of all the children in our lives. These are the women, the mothers who love and nurture the children of The Father’s House. What an amazing day we had loving and nurturing them! Laughing, singing and sharing our burdens. We became sisters together. It was the happiest day; we will always remember!