“When visitors come to your place, it’s a blessing.” Ah, so that’s the secret I’ve been trying to figure out since I first came to Uganda in 2009. Irene summed it up in one simple sentence. The hospitable, welcoming spirit that the Ugandans possess is overwhelming, and I’ve found myself asking, “How do they do it? What’s their secret?”
Perspective. It’s all in their perspective.
They see people as a blessing, and it comes out in their words, in their heart, in their interaction with you. It was evident that this seeing people as a blessing was strong in Irene. She invited us into her home and shared with us the kids she’s taken in and how she’s teaching others in the village how to behave and care for themselves. I believed every word, but it was how she kept turning around to check on the patient laying on the hard floor behind her that I knew she was the real deal.
I found myself trying not to stare at the bones poking out of the thin blanket on the floor. I wondered at how old this woman was and what her story was. The information was shocking. It was Irene’s niece, thirty years old with six kids, and there she was on a thin mat, on a hard floor dying of HIV. We bent down to pray for her, and I saw on her wide eyed, sunken face the fear.
I also saw the hope in that home, and that’s the story. It’s not the death and the fear. It’s the hope of Jesus. Irene cares for people and has welcomed in her brother’s children, her niece, and her niece’s children. The handmade sign on the wall that Irene’s children made for her says it all.
Irene loves her family.
In Irene’s heart, family is so much more than blood. It’s people who need hope, who need love. That’s her family.
So, as your home is filled with family and friends this Thanksgiving season, remember that having those warm bodies walk through your doors is a blessing. It’s a blessing to eat together, to laugh together, to live life together.