Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Value of a Name

I could get my produce from the Embassy Supermarket that is convenient, clean, and usually devoid of beggars but I have always chosen to immerse myself with the people I love here in Uganda and try at every casual meeting to develop further relations.  Grocery shopping for 7 years every week affords one ample opportunity to get to know the people in the market.  I have been around for births and deaths, marriage and divorce, joy and pain.  It is a blessing to me to be among friends here.  Being a long term missionary allows me the opportunity to have the time in which to develop trust and genuine concern for this place and these people.  I am eternally grateful to God for this but…
Today was a hard day.  I am not sure why today was especially hard as it is not a new phenomenon for me to see the loneliness of children.  Perhaps it is because it is so close to Christmas time, a time that is already emotionally charged in my heart.  Today like every week I visited, I laughed, I bought vegetables, and I bought my little beggar a rolex.  He is called Baby Rolex and I am Mama Rolex as I rarely leave the market without buying him a Rolex, a street food made of flat bread with an egg rolled inside.  Ironically his real name is “Lubega” Israel.  I say ironically because phonetically the Luganda name “Lubega” sounds a lot like “the beggar”.  Sadly this makes it most fitting.  And then there is the name Israel meaning “He struggles with God”… Lubega Israel certainly has his work cut out for him as he ponders the question, “why this lot in life?”
Israel goes to the orphan school down the road and has a family that lives in Soweto, the largest slum in Uganda, located just behind my market.  He has family but this is his school holiday and his family cannot financially support him during the holiday.  During school term he gets to eat at the orphan school but on holiday he is sent to the market to beg for food in order to survive.  His dad sells pineapples on the street because he cannot afford rent for a market stall and his mom sells cow legs.  This is not enough to support a family so the name he was given seems appropriate.  He has stepped into his role as the little beggar.  I love this little beggar yet I know so little about him and there are so many exactly like him. 
I saw him playing with a dull broken box cutter and a burned out light bulb today and thought that with proper love, nutrition, and education perhaps one day he could be an inventor or an electrical engineer.  We will never know how much he could contribute but I do know that God has a higher plan and purpose for this little guy.  I saw him standing in the gutter with his little bare feet about the same size as my 4 year old Hannah’s and I wanted to bring him home with me.  I think, had I done this, that everyone would have been pleased and how sad that made me that his parents were in a place of such defeat that it would be better for them to give their child away.  I hate poverty but I know that God is the orchestrator of life and this life of Baby Rolex is just beginning and could yet prove to be powerful and bring Christ great glory.  But his circumstances still bring me to tears.
Most of my friends in the market have never even thought to ask this little beggar his name as they have all consuming issues of their own.  He is just shooed away so as not to be a nuisance to customers.  This week he will eat each day from our food budget as I left a bit of my grocery money in the hands of a trusted vendor and asked that she look out for this little one and try to show him God’s love.  This is not a solution just a Band-Aid but today in the market I helped give this little beggar a face, a name.  His name is Lubega Israel and he is not a nuisance but a child, a blessing from the Father.
God bless the lonely, the hungry, and the forgotten this year whether they are in the gutter of a slum market like mine, in a bedroom behind closed doors in a house full of opulence or just numbly looking for meaning for their lives.  We all need to know we are recognized.  Like Israel we all need to remember that He knows our name and He has a plan for us.
As we thank the Lord for each of you and your unique contribution to our ministry here in Uganda we pray that you continue to be blessed through the name of Jesus Christ who imparts great value to you and to the works of your hands.
Thank you and Happy New Year!

About the Hoyts

Steve is a Construction Manager and Architect with eMi EA serving the Lord Jesus Christ in Uganda Africa.

Melinda and the girls are dedicated to learning and growing in love and grace through home school activities and community bible study with the ladies and children of Uganda.

About eMi EA

engineering Ministries international East Africa

The vision of eMi is to glorify God by offering hope to the spiritually and physically poor.

eMi EA's mission is to glorify God by exemplifying Christ's love to the spiritually and physically impoverished of East Africa by developing suitable facilities. We partner with Christian organizations in the planning, design and implementation of building projects which directly and effectively meet the tangible and spiritual needs of the people they serve. We use our God-given technical and spiritual gifts to enrich the lives of the people with whom we serve.