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Elephants

From the Pastor’s Desk

 


First it was the elephants... I couldn’t stand it when I began reading about people killing such noble animals just for their tusks. It reminded me of the horror on our American prairies when the buffalo were slaughtered for sport. Only this was worse. Elephants are so smart and very social. They can communicate with one another over long distances. They grieve when one of their own dies. Humans who weren’t smart enough to know what elephants know and had no appreciation for God’s great creation. Elephants dying for profits seemed prophetic to me. My connection to their plight was God nudging me to do something, so I began supporting the World Wildlife Fund and sporting my one and only bumper sticker: “Only elephants should wear ivory.”

That was nearly thirty years ago. Of course, I would occasionally run across someone wearing a big ivory necklace who didn’t like my bumper sticker. I didn’t intend to be offensive, and I felt certain St. Francis approved.

Then, for whatever reason, I began getting interested in the rest of the ecosystem elephants were a part of, including the primates and humans.

Some peace-loving Christian teenagers I knew were greatly troubled by the brutality in Darfur, the plight of boy soldiers and the likes of Joseph Kony. These teens were appalled that Kony and other brutal leaders also claimed to be Christian. It made them question their desire to remain in a religion claimed by such thugs. They wanted to help child soldiers and refugees, so they began an awareness raising endeavor. Together we read books, had discussions and led community events.

Together our spirits boosted one another in our little campaign.

I never thought I would find myself heading to Joseph Kony’s hometown, but my suitcases are loaded and by the time this goes to press, I will be in Uganda. I have lots of goodies for the orphanage we will visit. I hope the children like the cars, dolls, Disney tattoos, fairy wings, gum, and headbands. Serendipity has smiled on the timing of this trip, as another church I served in San Luis Obispo began sewing sun dresses and shorts for children in Uganda this past year, before they knew I was planning to go. I will be able to deliver them and hopefully take pictures of the exchange, so that the seamstresses will see who received their gifts.

It has been a whirlwind with special services this past month and Holy Week. It’s been a wonderfully rich season of ministry, but I do not have my head in the game for going to Uganda

Normally, when I travel, I purchase a guide book about where I am going, and part of the fun is reading and preparing for the trip to come. Not this time. I plan to read about Uganda on the plane. Fortunately, I will be working with AidAfrica.net, and I have seen pictures others have taken. I have some idea what to expect, yet I doubt anything can really prepare me. I can’t imagine what it must have been like being terrorized out of my village and home, or what living in a refugee camp was like. I am happy to think of working alongside villagers reclaiming their homes.

I think Jesus took his final journey into Jerusalem on behalf of others who were suffering. My faith tells me that the risen Christ has been in Uganda working alongside villagers for quite some time. This risen Christ was not recognized by those who knew him well, yet the revelation of his presence turned grief into joy. I am led to believe that the villagers seek to find Jesus, and that their faith is lively and filled with celebration. I am guessing they will minister to me in unexpected ways.

I don’t know why elephants and child soldiers infiltrated my soul, but I believe these were divine interventions. May you be blessed with similar encounters that you can not say no to.

God be with you, Pastor Nancy

 
 

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