Was It a Burden or a Privilege? October 18, 2016
About ten or so years ago I met a young lady in Uganda, East Africa. Patty Pullen and I were co-leaders of the Uganda Satellite, the support group for the GSM work in Uganda. That work was largely the education of Ugandan children that had no hope of
going to school either because of poverty or loss of parents or both. We were on one of our trips to visit the GSM Masaka School. One day as we were walking a young girl of high school age introduced herself to us and asked us to support her in college. She wanted to become a teacher. Her name is Peace and she lived full time at the school. It was her home. Patty and I were moved to agree. And thus began a journey that taught us so much more than we could have imagined.
College in Uganda is a diploma course and is three years long. The cost is $2400 per year. Patty and I were already donating to the general work of GSM Uganda so these monies for Peace had to be found elsewhere. Some of the funds were raised through helping at the Lavender Festival that the Ukraine Satellite hosted at the Miller Farm. Some funds were donated through the efforts of other individuals. I honestly can’t remember how all of the funds came in but I do remember that we were always surprised that we had the funds to send. Two years into our effort we discovered, while trying to find out how Peace was doing, that she had dropped out of school due to illness. The funds we sent had been used for some other serious need. So we sent the year’s tuition again. Peace returned to school only to find out that she had to begin her schooling all over again because she hadn’t stayed recorded as a student while she was ill. So, again we sent funds as for her first year. My memory is fuzzy about all of these details but suffice it to say it took six years of time and money instead of the expected three years to give Peace her diploma for certification as a teacher.
Those are the details of this story and now I will share with you the greatest treasure that we discovered as we fluctuated between frustration and faith over these six years. Patty and I traveled again to Uganda in 2012. As we got off of the bus at the entrance to the Masaka School, there in the middle of the driveway surrounded by all of the children was Peace with her arms outstretched for us to step into the biggest hug that side of the world. She was a teacher of the baby class. Full fledged, certified, she had returned to the school that had educated her and the people who had supported her heart’s desire to give back. WHAT A WELCOME AND PROFOUND THANK YOU! Patty and I had learned alongside Peace what it takes to finish well. Our burden for the sake of Peace and her courage in the midst of suffering setbacks to complete what we started had finished in this great privilege of triumphant relational victory. Nothing in this world can destroy the peace (Peace) that comes with “Well done, good and faithful”.
By Elsa Jane Weislogel
Note- This essay has been recognized as one of the finalists in the 40th Anniversary Samaritan Memories Essay Contest.