Friday, May 19, 2017

Priceless Treasures

I have a Bible study group with the girls in our church on Sunday afternoons.  It’s a time I really enjoy with them!  I try to do one topic for a few weeks to help it sink in and be able to talk in depth about things.  We’ve talked about gossip, loving others well, temptations, working for the Lord and not for men, we’ve done the armor of God and most recently, seeing ourselves as God sees us… His priceless daughters!  The girls each have a notebook to write the verse in and if they recite it the following week they get a sweet.  We also have time of prayer and singing.  It’s been interesting to see the cultural differences between American and Ugandan girls.  American girls are typically quick to open up about their feelings and ask questions about life or even be vulnerable and share what’s on their hearts and minds.  But here, to cry or show emotion, shows weakness.  How you feel is never talked about and I think these girls have no idea what to think about many things or have many unanswered questions because it’s taboo or too “weak” to discuss some things.  

The latest topic, as you might have guessed by the title of this post has been about seeing ourselves as God sees us.  We made a poster  with many different verses in the Bible that God says of us… beloved, chosen, protected, HIS, etc!  It’s my prayer that these words help the girls to see that their worth is in who they are in Christ and not how much dowry they’re worth, what a boy thinks of them, where their marks are in school or how pretty they are.  

If she knows she is God’s child and bought by the price of His one and only Son, she may be less likely to do damage to herself by going to nightclubs drinking etc.  

If she knows she is beautifully created by God’s very own hands, she may be less likely to give her body to a boy who tells her she’s pretty.

If she knows she was created for a very specific purpose, then she may be more likely to work hard in school to be able to do her best at whatever the Lord has for her.

If she knows there is no amount of money, diamonds or cows that could ever measure her worth, she wouldn’t sell herself for school fees, clothes, phones or favors.  

I want these girls to know that nothing but the blood of Jesus himself can buy them!  With dowry still a very much practiced thing here in Uganda, I fear they look at that to see how much they are worth.  I want them to know that their Heavenly Father knows they are worth far and waaaaaay beyond all that!

Another problem is the incredible absence of fathers here.  In many cases, men have multiple families.  The massive majority of these girls are raised by a single mother, their father having moved on to another woman and raising another family.  There are some who will feed, discipline and clothe their children, but not much of a relationship beyond that.  So many of these girls are left searching for attention and validation from men.

The Lord’s timing in all this is so amazing!  A friend of mine contacted me asking for ways she could help and let me know about a group in America called, “Days For Girls”. This is an entirely volunteer group from New York (there are chapters all over the US) who donate their time, money and resources to bring these girls something they really need… pads.  These are reusable pads and DFG literally thought of EVERYTHING!  Every possible issue was addressed and they came up with creative ways to manage them.  For washing the pads, they put into each kit a heavy duty ziplock bag to put soiled cloths in and it also works to do the actual washing in!  In this culture menstruation is totally and completely taboo.  So they are able to wash inside the house without anyone seeing and then when they hang them up outside to dry they are in the shape of a washcloth so no one would know!  They also put soap, underwear, a “how to” instruction sheet into each beautiful drawstring bag!  

Jeanette ,the sweet woman whose group sent these girls the box, even put in kits for the mothers of the girls!  Because of trouble with taxes on the package, I wasn’t able to get it for quite some time.  And in that time, the Girls Bible Study group was growing!  That is a wonderful thing, but then meant that there wasn’t enough to send home for the mamas.  The reason Jeanette offered to send some for the mamas was because I shared with her about how the mamas might take things from their daughters to use for themselves.  This has happened SO many times.  If I give some hand-me-down clothes to a girl in the church who is in rags, I often see the mother wearing those clothes.  She needs them too, I’m sure.  I keep a stock of pads on hand because if a problem occurs at school the girls usually come here for help washing their uniform and getting cleaned up.  Having these kits has drastically cut down on those “visits”!  Since half of the kits were for the mamas, that meant larger sizes than the girls needed.  So to avoid the kits getting taken by their mothers I sewed up the sides of some of the underwear to fit the girls better.  I have since learned that for many of those girls, the mothers removed my stitches and are using them themselves.  They need them obviously in order to work, but the girls do too in order to go to school.

As I mentioned above, the post office put a giant tax on the package and I wasn’t able to get it out while I disputed the cost.  As God’s timing would have it though, my Ugandan nurse friend Teddy was able to be here for it when it finally was released!  Since it’s such a taboo topic, these girls hardly know what’s going on or how to manage things.  Coming from a nurse was a perfect scenario!  She was able to thoroughly explain how our bodies work, cultural issues, hygiene etc in ways that wouldn’t have been very impactful coming from me.  I learned a lot about how the culture deals with this too, so I am in awe at how the Lord used a high tax to make me wait until the right person was here for the task!  The girls were SO thrilled with their bags with the kits tucked inside them.  Even some mothers came just to thank us for teaching their daughters and for giving them the kits!  It was a beautiful thing to see so many mothers so happy for their daughters!

To end the Bible study series, I got the new movie “Priceless” for us to all watch together!  We started with lunch and then enjoyed the movie projected in my living room.  I had prepared for 30 girls and was surprised when I had to pull out leftovers from the fridge to find enough food to feed the 42 girls who came!  It was so awesome to have my living room literally stuffed with God’s priceless girls!  The song we’ve been learning is the theme song to the movie and the movie itself is a powerful visual to all we’d been talking about.  It is about sex trafficking.  The movie is done is a very tasteful way, but leaves you no doubt about what is happening and how easy and prevalent it is today!  Sadly a woman all the girls know has most likely fallen prey to a sex trafficking sceme.  Despite all our warnings and even a friend’s help to get a local job, she took a “job” in Saudi Arabia and we’ll probably never see her again.  As horrible and sad as this is, it’s a slap-in-the-face wake up call to these girls to have it happen to someone they all knew.  We had a bit of discussion after the movie and girls have come to me in these weeks following to ask some different questions here and there.  So I know they are thinking about it, their eyes are now opened to some of the ways evil men might try to snare them and they are also praying for women who are trapped in it now.

Please pray for these girls and SO many countless others!  Pray for their hearts to turn towards God, for them to realize the amazing sacrifice He made for THEM, for their protection and that they will flee from pressures and temptations.  Pray that they will know who they are in their Heavenly Father’s eyes and not how the culture/world views them!