Sometimes my heart seems too sensitive for the experiences I encounter in Uganda. I sit in my room at night pondering what I have seen and sometimes I weep in disbelief and sadness. Yesterday I taught the first day of a five day conference, hoping to build up the church leadership in the area of Tororo in Eastern Uganda. My subject is Stewardship, a teaching they need desperately throughout Uganda. At lunchtime, as I was exiting the building, I met an astonishing sight.

An old woman was crawling up the step to the door of the church building. She was brightly dressed in a red and white gomas that she had put on so she could attend the meeting. When I say “crawling,” I mean she was propelling herself across the ground from her home to my meeting by crawling on all fours because she is unable to walk anymore. The pastor told me she is over 100 years old and has no support – she may have outlived her children. She desired to attend the church meeting because she is a long-standing and faithful Christian. So she crawled to the meeting on her hands and knees from her home to sit under the teaching of the musungu. Today I will find out where her house is. The church sits in a field and there are no houses closer than 100 yards.

The pastor related a story about this woman. Once when she was younger, she was on her knees sifting millet, which is a common grain here. Suddenly a deadly cobra rose up before her and spread it hood. She was terrified. She was on her knees and could not move awayIMG_2979 or dodge. The Spirit must have taken over, for the story says that she grabbed the snake by the neck and bashed its head repeatedly against a stone until it was dead. I think I like this woman!

I spoke with her several times, but, of course, she speaks the local tribal language which is Japadola. I went to get the pastor to translate – even Alfred cannot help me with Japadola. He said she was asking me for something. This is normal. The people are very poor and it is common to ask a visiting white to bless them with money. What do you think this humble woman would ask me for, considering her condition?

I couldn’t believe what the pIMG_2981astor translated. She asked me for a box of matches to light her cooking fire. I am deeply humbled by such a request. She is not asking for medical expenses or support of school fees for her grandchildren. She is asking me for matches. Do you see why such a simple thing as matches might move me to tears? I told her I would pray to see what God would lead me to give her. I will discreetly give her more than matches.

Such an encounter moves me to tears. She is the developing and often struggling Ugandan Church. She is the reason I minister here. She is the reason you send me. She is Uganda.