I didn’t know what AIDS was until I was thirteen. During that time, Uganda had been having an epidemic in the north, and so awareness was at an all-time high. It was on the walls of our announcement boards, the emails of our newsletters, and the tongues of our school kids.
Eventually, I learned what this deadly disease was. In fact, I even learned who had it. It turns out, there’s plenty of people I knew that had contracted the disease from one way or the other. Suddenly, AIDS was everywhere. Fear began to captivate me as I became paranoid about my water, my dishes, my silverware- anything that could put me into contact with it. At the time, I didn’t realize that AIDS wasn’t transmitted through touch, but I didn’t care; I was too paranoid about receiving it.
After a few weeks of this, I realized how silly I was being. Nobody in my family had it, and my chances of getting it were higher than my chances of a girl liking me- basically none. I had to release that fear to the Lord, as I had done with so many other fears.
“When I first came to Uganda, I saw so many children with nothing. In America, we think we know suffering and poverty, but in reality, we know nothing. But what really strikes me is the fact that every child is so happy. Even though they have nothing, they smile as if they have everything.”
This quote, believe it or not, is another common thing I have heard from Americans visiting Africa. While there IS poverty in the United States, it usually remains tucked away, avoided at all costs. After all, who cares about the hobos and homeless? This mindset has been a hindrance to the more sheltered American teenagers and young adults. Because they have been sheltered for their entire lives, they have no idea what the outside world looks like. Thus, when they arrive in Uganda, all ready to “minister to the poor and needy”, they are caught off guard by the sheer number of poor people. The rich exist, of course, but Uganda is dominated by men and women that make less than $500 a year. This amount proves to be staggering to the average Westerner. And yet… There is something that strikes them far harder than poverty, and that’s a smile. The Ugandan people, while not being the richest in the world, consistently find things to smile about.
This ability finds itself in stark contrast to the Western world, in which money is common and yet true happiness is in short supply. There might be men that own three houses, four Lamborghinis, and a private plane, yet they only smile for the cameras. Deep down, brokenness affects us all, and money cannot repair the gaping hole in our souls left by the sadness and regret that comes with sin.
Happiness can be found outside of money. Poverty, in all its crushing weight, cannot remove the joy that is somehow found within the hearts of the Ugandan children. This joy, found within real life, is what astounds many Westerners, who expect to find a lack of happiness whenever poverty is present. Joy is found in an appreciation of God’s creation, not within money or possessions. This is something we would all do well to remember.
Alright, that’s all for today. This was a throwback post, meaning that it was actually published by me over six months ago. This is something I am going to be doing every Saturday as a chance for new Followers to read some of my old content and see some old stories.
Thanks for reading! Your support means a ton to me. If you haven’t already, be sure to click that Follow button below or to the side, so as to not miss out on any new posts. Then, click that Like button to show your appreciation. Thanks again, and I hope you have a great day.