I came all the way to Uganda to go to church. And it was worth it. We had the privilege of shadowing a family today, and that took us to the Church of Uganda. The family of seven (five kids plus mom and dad) worships there, and we joined in. Though the language barrier was there for sure, the moment and the meaning were not lost on us.
There are universal elements of church that transcend nations. For starters, children fidget in church. And babies coo and cry. People are robed in their Sunday finest, and posture is a tish more straight. We listened to a marvelous choir, with the bellow of the organ and beat of the drum as accompaniment. I must say, it was the finest church music these ears have ever heard.
I sat next to the bishop so he translated bits and pieces of the service and gave me an English Bible to follow along. His graciousness was delightful, and his smile a charm. The pastor was full of personality and smiles, and the associate pastor was a pro (who happened to be a well educated woman…refreshing to see women in powerful positions in the church). While I do not attend church at home, it was an honor to participate in Church of Uganda services today. What an intimate peek at life in this beautiful country!
I was asked to say a few words to the congregation (which came as a surprise to me!). I told them, with the help of a translator, that we were all thankful for the privilege of joining everyone at church and were delighted to see Unicef’s Family Health Days in action. I introduced our delegation, smiled more meekly than I should have, and took a seat next to the bishop on a handmade pew. In fact, the whole church was clearly built by hand. It was painted a sunny yellow with Tiffany blue walls inside. The only adornments were some tinsel garlands and green and white pennant garlands hanging wall to wall. The simplicity was beautifully underscored by the wide open windows ushering in the cool breeze and sounds of birds nearby. Only the choir’s voices were more soothing.
And so our day continued with the Family Health Day. Children were vaccinated and given vitamin A drops and deworming tablets. Adults were screened for diabetes and tested for AIDS. Others had blood pressure checked, and mothers waited in line to register the births of their babies, all the while clutching the precious blue immunization and health records.
The day was full of smiles and children’s laughter. Kids frolicked on the church grounds and hammed it up for our cameras. You should see the utter glee and sparkle in their eyes when we show the children the digital image of the photo. It is a joy I shall clutch closely with every snap of the shutter. When I am back home I promise to share oodles of pictures. For now, know that we are here in Uganda making a difference. Lives are literally saved by the healthcare workers and Unicef. It is truly life changing to be witness to this glory.
I wrap up my day draped in the calm of peace and the knowledge that we served our fellow man, woman, and child today. I miss my own family and cannot wait to squeeze my boys. Every child deserves a shot at being smothered by his mommy’s kisses.