a reflection by Ann McStay, Pat Hurd, and Carolyn Hurd (as related to Erin Morey)
Parishioner Ann McStay has been supporting St. Paul and Rose Orphans Care Centre in Buwala, Uganda, since 2011. This project offers holistic care for children and families who need it most. The Centre provides shelter, love, and care for parentless children, as well as teaching them farming, gardening, sewing and other valuable life skills for their future self-support.
Ann says that she's learned more about faith from the culture of the people she's met in Uganda than she has experienced at home. Her ministry focus began as a secular project - to share compassion, and practical help, partnering with others and not trying to solve problems for them.
She notes that the people she serves already have faith, and worship services. They don't need to learn about these things from her. But she experiences a deep spiritual connection in working with others, and had found there are many ways to experience compassion in the world. It is meaningful to her to see the joy that others have in their lives, and that she can be a part of helping nurture that joy. That participation and connection has helped her learn about what it means to be Christ in the world. She pointed to a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that begins:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us, / then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear: / You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing. / Embody me.
Pat says that the deep spirituality of the children she has met at the Babies' Home has brought her closer to God and touched her heart. It moves her to see the children offer to pray for her. In her experience, the people she has met in Uganda are very open about talking about faith, and it is part of their everyday life. She feels closet to God when she spends time in the company of children living with disabilities. She was there when one child, Christopher, was able to walk for the first time in his life. Even when he struggled, he persevered joyfully! Pat was grateful to witness his love for life.
She also remarked on how the people she's met care for visitors. Once, she was shopping to buy supplies for the Babies' Home, on a hot day, and she realized she was out of water. She didn't feel well, but tried not to draw attention to her discomfort. The shopkeeper noticed, though, and brought Pat cold water, a chair, and two chilled bananas. The shopkeeper declined to accept payment for the food and drinks. She genuinely cared about helping Pat feel better. Pat shared that, in her experience, when someone asks you how your day was, they genuinely want to know.
The people she's met in Uganda, she says, "fill our cup up."
Carolyn notes that the faith of the children she has met has been transformative. She says that they "worship with everything they have" and will offer to pray for you, and then pray for you on the spot. Their love for the Lord, and one another, has strengthened her own relationship with God. She is especailly moved by the youngest children she meets. They have faced lives of tough circumstances, and are amazing people. She feels that she is experiencing being truly blessed by being in relationship with them.
She is grateful to have had the opportunity to return each year, and build relationships over time. Going to visit, she says, is like visiting a second family. She hopes that all people could share this experience.