When I say that I am going to Uganda, I get a few different responses. The first is one of incredulity: Why would you ever do that? The idea of flying across an ocean and another continent to get to Africa is just not even in their realm of possibility, let alone being a desire. It’s certainly not a need for them.
The second response is one of enthusiastic agreement: I have always wanted to go there. It’s usually a desire to go on safari, or travel to distant lands, but sometimes it’s the desire to help.
The third response is one of understanding: I like the partnership with which you are involved. I think what you’re doing is making a difference.
So, why does it make a difference? Why not just send the cash that it costs? Isn’t that a better way to help? And certainly, sometimes that could be better. Yet, a large part of a partnership is caring for each other in the context of relationships. And, how can you maintain relationships unless you have time together? It makes a difference because we value our partnership enough to get out of our comfortable existence and travel. We visit, and we see how our friends live. We experience their lives for a brief time, and we listen. We talk and together we find solutions.
It can be a slow process. It can have many bumps along the way. It is not comfortable or glamorous. And, in partnership with our friends, we usually receive far more than we give. We come back changed, our spiritual poverty lessened, and our eyes opened to see the world outside of our comfortable existence which has isolated us from the difficulties millions of people face every day. That very comfort is a large part of our spiritual poverty as we spend more time and money tending to it than to the condition of our hearts.
And so we go, grateful for the chance to care for others and be changed by the experience.