In 2005 I was blessed to travel to Uganda and visit the village of Rhaki, among several others. This particular village was one of the hardest hit villages during the reign of terror by the cruel dictator Idi Amin during the Uganda-Tanzanian War. The town is healing but continues to suffer from vast poverty, sicknesses with many children orphaned from their parent's death or abandonment.
He says to himself, “God will never notice; He covers His face and never sees.” Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; You consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.
During our visit, we spent time at a local school sponsored by American families. I was touched to witness genuine joy in the midst of daily hardships. Dedicated teachers copied lessons in composition books since electric printers and copiers are not available. Students share pencils, usually less than four inches long, hand whittled with no eraser. As one student completes their assignment, they offer the pencil to their friend sitting on the wooden bench beside them, and encourage their classmates in the completion their class work.
At one point during our visit, the teacher for this classes was needed in her second classroom. In her absence the first class sat perfectly still, silently waiting further instruction. I was amazed at the self-discipline! You see, school is a privilege to these children, sacrifices have been made. If a student misbehaves, the head master will send them home, and they may not be allowed to return. Ever. After a few minutes observing the self-control of these five and six year olds, I asked the teacher if I might be allowed to take her class outside for "recess." There was no playground with swings or soccer balls to encourage play, only a bare field for the children to occupy themselves.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Several weeks earlier, when preparing for my trip, I had been instructed to bring small toys to give as gifts. One item I had packed was a small bottle of liquid bubbles. After digging it from my back pack that afternoon on the playground, I began to blow on the small plastic circle and bubbles filled the air. The children began to squeal with delight, chasing the bubbles, jumping to pop them and laughing at each other. At one point, trying not to hyperventilate from my blowing, I quietly asked the LORD for help. I dipped the wand in the mixture and as I held it up, preparing to blow, a breeze caught the mixture and created the bubbles for me! The Almighty began to blow the bubbles!
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6 NIV
This little miracle, known only to me, made me giggle. To think that the Mighty LORD God of the Universe, Melek ha Olam gave attention to my small request and cared enough to help me keep these bubble flowing. I also considered that our Abba Father on His throne delighted in watching these children playing with such joy. There was such genuine laughter in the midst of absolute poverty. These children do not know about air condition, they do not have an unlimited data plan or even a faucet in their homes. They complete chores before walking to school, sometimes carrying water several miles so their mother could make breakfast, IF they have a mother.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. Surely, LORD, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12 NIV
While the LORD was blowing bubbles, I realized a small girl standing beside me, too young to compete at popping the bubbles in the air. She could not have been more than four, but stood next to me holding my skirt and singing a simple song. I don't know what the song was, since it was in her native tongue, but I would like to believe it was a song of praise to Adonai for the beauty of the bubbles, an extra recess and His grace and mercy. Even though she was too small to chase he bubbles, she was expressing joy. She was not frustrated that she was small, or envious that she was not getting her chance to experience the "game." She was content to watch and sing her sweet song. At that moment, I wanted to snatch her up and put her in my suitcase. She was absolutely the most precious child I had ever seen.
Holy God Almighty, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, from heaven You look down and see all mankind; from Your dwelling place You watch all who live on earth—You who form the hearts of all, who consider everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength, but the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for You, our LORD; You are our help and our shield. In You our hearts rejoice, for we trust in Your holy Name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You. (Psalm 33:13-22 NIV) Amen.