Tonight I arrived home, with my feet covered with muck after an afternoon walking and praying in Unga Limited. We have been doing this for several weeks as part of our spiritual mapping. Walking and talking and praying through the neighborhood helps us to see, experience and learn about what is present in the neighborhood.
In recent weeks we have been noticing many hardships in Unga. We have seen women who are begging on the pathways, children playing in the dirt barely clothed and showing signs of starvation, alcoholism, evidence of drug use, and "movie huts" aka "pornography rooms."
Todays prayerwalk had a new twist. After hours of pouring rain last night the streets in Unga were, well anything but streets. They were muddy and messy. As I walked through, my flipflops got stuck in the muck, and I got grossed out as I started to think what the muck could potentially be made of...grossed out enough to not want to walk any further, but due to necessity we kept walking. As I walked, I starting thinking about how "muck" keeps us from moving forward. Whether it is physical muck like that in the streets of Unga or figurative muck like our pasts.
Today I learned more about that muck. In asking our guide about the neighborhood we talked about the muck in their lives. We talked about how there is an abundance of orphans and widows and how many of them are so due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We talked about generation upon generation being stuck in alcoholism, and about poor education and so much more. No wonder these people are stuck. All they see is muck around them. In the literal muck I had hard enough time putting one foot in front of another for fear of stepping in things better left unsaid or fear of slipping and falling, but I kept moving, out of necessity and because I knew it would get better.
We have a necessity, to show the residents of Unga, that it can be better. That the God who loves us loves them the same, and that he is a God who not only loves, but gets us out of the muck. Look at what His word has to say about His miracles and the muck...amazing how it relates to the poor...
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods. [a]
5 Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced [b] , [c] ;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll. [d]
8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."
9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.
11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.
14 May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
"The LORD be exalted!"
17 Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.