We carried a jerry!

Hi there, folks!

Sorry to leave y’all hanging last week, but between a crashed computer and battling a nasty cold, blogging sort of fell by the wayside out of necessity.

So, just to catch you up on the last 5 days or so, I taught exercise classes (including subbing a 5:45 AM slot while battling the aforementioned cold, which = pathetic kicks and punches), shopped a local (MASSIVE) consignment sale (twice!), hung out at my mom’s house, had pizza picnics at the park with the kids, and stayed home from church with a sick kiddo.

In other words, pretty much life as usual.

One thing was a little unusual, though, and in the best possible way.

If you’ve been reading along for a while here, then you know that one of my favorite ministries is Parental Care Ministries. I’ve talked about them several times here, and y’all have even helped me raise money to build them a classroom, supported Sarah, and just generally prayed for and rejoiced in their successes.

PCM started, not as an official organization at all, but instead as the response of one godly Ugandan man (with a painful past of abandonment and abuse), whom everyone affectionately calls “Pastor Emmy,” to God’s call to practice “pure religion”—caring for the fatherless and the widow. He started by taking needy children into his own tiny home with dirt floors until he had 35 children sleeping end-to-end on those floors. And over the past decade, by the grace of God, Pastor Emmy’s passion for being the hands and feet of Jesus to the struggling children of Uganda has spread. And spread. And SPREAD. Until, by now, I’ve lost count of just how many PCM schools—each with several hundred students—have been started to care for and educate the orphans and the needy.

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{Evy wasn’t feeling super-cooperative, but I’m pretty sure Pastor Emmy has held his fair share of ornery toddlers}

My family has had the privilege to sponsor a precious girl named Harriet for the last four years. We love getting her letters. She calls me Mama and Shaun, Daddy (even though her parents are living) and all five of my children her brothers and sisters.

Well, last Saturday, our city (which is the American headquarters for PCM) hosted a Carry a Jerry event. To clarify, a “jerry” is the can that Ugandan children (and many others worldwide) have to carry back and forth to their water source, to the tune of 10-20 miles each day just so they can have “clean” (sometimes not so much) water for drinking and washing of any sort. Can you imagine not being able to turn on the tap and see clear, cool water flow out of it? Y’all. The few times my water has been off because of some sort of malfunction or bad weather, I can’t tell you how impatient and irritable it made me each time I walked to the sink, twisted the knob, and…nothing happened.

And yet, this is their reality (minus even the possibility of knob-twisting).

And YET…this is their attitude:

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{This is Adrine…moments after she met Della; she proceeded to hold her for another half hour, and Della loved it!}

So, Saturday, our family participated in the family Carry a Jerry walk/run, which basically consisted of Shaun, the boys, and I jogging along for about a mile, taking turns “carrying the jerry,” while the girls rode in strollers.

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{I carried the jerry in my right hand while running and pushing Della in her stroller, but that can is not nearly as big as most of them are. Side note: Simon did AMAZING! He ran practically the whole mile, and I was genuinely running to keep up with him at the finish line}

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{Shaun came through with the next round—hilarious to me that our family is big enough to come through in shifts—because Ezra was already starting to not feel well, and had to take several walking breaks. He still finished strong, though, and I was so proud of him!}

Obviously, our jerry-carrying experience was hardly a true taste of what these amazing children do every single day just to get access to a basic necessity. But the event itself was just so stinking enjoyable and humbling and awesome and fun.

Why?

Because of these lovely people!

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(You can hear a clip of their singing here)

The PCM Uganda choir of 17 children came to America to perform mini-concerts all around East Texas (and beyond), and although neither Harriet nor Sarah are part of the choir, Harriet’s best friend, Shallon, is. Christie, PCM’s sponsor coordinator, had already texted me Shallon’s picture, so when I saw her, it was like spotting a friend!

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{We made sure to snap a pic so that we can send it to Harriet with our next letter; I love how, out of all our kids, only Ezra is actually looking and smiling}

And when we actually met Shallon, it felt that way even more! There is something so artless and infectiously joyful about these sweet people.

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{So, Nola obviously had not gotten the same hair consideration as Evy; I did put hers up soon after this}

I can’t even express it other than to say that Jesus just SHINES out of their faces. The moment you meet them, they hug you and tell you how grateful they are for you (I found myself saying back, “No, we’re the ones who are grateful” and completely meaning it. I think, in many ways, they have more to offer than I do). They take your children from your arms and hold them and play with them with no self-consciousness or worry about offense. To them, we are all related, and this is just one big family reunion! And they’re right! But how quickly we lose sight of that fact when we focus on denominations and cliques and get so bogged down nitpicking theological ambiguities.

The clarity and conviction of the love of Jesus that blazes forth from these kiddos’ faces is undeniable and incredibly convicting and inspiring all at once.

Tears started leaking out of my eyes the second this happened…

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(that’s the first Ugandan runners leaping jubilantly through the finish line of the 5K that came before the family run/walk)

…and they pretty much didn’t stop completely until we left.

(Which is why I’m wearing my sunglasses in every picture; I didn’t want my kids constantly asking, “Mama, why are you sad?”).

Thing is, they weren’t sad tears. At least not mostly. But amongst the happy tears were a few tears of conviction at how much more prone I am to complain than my dear Ugandan brothers and sisters in Christ who are so much more “underprivileged” than I.

Another fun treat was getting to meet this pretty lady.

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This is Kristin, and she and I have emailed back and forth a few times (once she figured out that I lived in her area) and interacted via Instagram, but we had never officially met. I spotted her while we were eating our picnic lunch and thought, “Man! She looks familiar!”

But I couldn’t quite place it until she walked up and introduced herself. I’m so glad she did! We ended up chatting while we waited in the face painting line for our kids to get smeared, and she was a delight. Her husband, Jamy, and Shaun hit it off too, joking about how they’d never talked online or ever seen any pictures of each other (such a strange virtual world we live in, no?) and yet were still glad to meet each other.

The weather was gorgeous, and, even with five small children to wrangle, and Ezra’s not feeling very well, the whole thing was just such a joyous celebration of the Lord and His love for us.

I can’t say enough how big of a blessing PCM is in our lives, but I want to encourage you to find out more about them yourself. They are a small ministry with a selfless, hardworking staff that I know personally here in the States and tireless, godly, devoted pastors and leaders in Uganda. Every bit of their resources are poured right back into those precious kids. There are alwaysmore kids who need sponsoring, so if you’re looking for a “worthy cause” to invest in, let me assure you that this one is and that you will easily reap just as many, if not more, benefits than you extend to them.

P.S. Shifting gears dramatically, I need to thank all of you guys for your awesome feedback on my breakfast nook. There were so many helpful, thoughtful suggestions, and I really feel like I’ve got a better handle on the direction I want to go with it. Y’all are so nice!

2 thoughts on “We carried a jerry!

  1. We do take clean water for granted! It doesn’t take long of doing without (or without easy access) to make you really appreciate it!

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