You may remember the small and ancient Roman Catholic lady who, when we shared Christ with her, said she knew Peter and she knew Paul, but she did not have room for the gospel we were telling her. It was during my second trip to Uganda and I was here for seven weeks. We encountered Maria trying to haul a large jerry can of water up to her mud-wattle and thatch-roofed house from the spring (she has since moved). We offered to carry it for her and so fell into conversation. ( where her name mistakenly reported as Luwaida).

Maria after changing her dress to receive visitors.

Maria after changing her dress to receive visitors.

Just as I previously related her story over several trips to Uganda, she would never let us leave without mentioning certain needs, like, “I need some sugar,” or, “I haven’t eaten meat in three years.” So I fell into the easy pattern of dropping by each time I came with a small gift for her. She is a widow with no living children to take care of her, and she lives in abject poverty as one who is alone in the world.

Upon one of these gift-giving trips to her home, we asked her if she had thought more about Christ, and she said, “When you love me like this, I cannot fail to believe what you are telling me. I am in your hands.” I left her in the hands of the church-plant we had started nearby. (

I did not see her for several trips because of administrative changes that moved my ministry SAM_2527away from that area, but this trip as I revisited this first of my church-plants in Uganda, I also took the time to bring gifts to Maria. We found her hoeing among the banana trees, very hard work for a woman of her age. She seemed overjoyed to see me, insisted on washing up and changing her dress for my visit, and she was so enthused that she was half undressed before she even reached the door of her one-room apartment. When she emerged, she emerged calling out to her neighbor to bring chairs for her visitors. She would not settle until everything was just so.

As we visited, we asked why she was hoeing so vigorously in the banana trees. She said she does this every day so as to stay healthy and limber – physical therapy Uganda-style! We shared our gifts with her of sugar, and soap for both the body and the laundry, some chicken and some beef, and some cooking oil. She became more and more animated and effusive as we continued to pull things out of the bag. What a joy to give to such a one who has such need and who will not take it for granted in any way. What a joy to simply love another individual unconditionally. I thanked the Lord for giving this precious gift to me, and the visit may be the highlight of this entire trip.

Toward the end of our short visit, Maria began to repeat over and over the phrase, “Muje, muje, muje!” (sp?). I asked Alfred to translate,SAM_2522 and he said it meant, “You go, you go, you go.” Of course, as a musungu, I did not understand this comment, for she seemed quite happy, and the phrase did not make sense to me as it was being translated.

After a little more visiting, we came to an end and said our good-byes, she clutching my hand and squeezing and shaking it. I think we were all very touched by this meeting. As we departed, I asked Alfred for a clearer interpretation of the phrase she kept repeating, and this is what he said: Maria was saying, “You are free to go. Even if you leave now at this very moment, I am very content, I am well satisfied.”

SAM_2528This is truly the comment of a person used to living alone in the world, little noticed by those around her, of little or no consequence in both her own eyes and the eyes of her community to be so significantly affected by a loving visit. I was both deeply moved and saddened by these words and the heart and the life they reveal. Alfred told me her full name, Namudu Maria, means “slave woman.”

Pray for Maria.