Out shopping recently, for something totally unrelated to MAMO, we found this plaque. It is exactly what we’re finding with MAMO. It isn’t easy. Not everyone is doing what we’re doing. But it is definitely worth it, even with the risk of malaria, the monotony, the inconvenience of travel (spending 15 hours in a metal tube hurtling through space is not nearly as glamorous as “international travel” might sound), or the amount of energy and effort this endeavor has required, from so many.
And while there are many other organizations helping meet medical needs, what we’re trying to do is kind of radical. We don’t want to simply provide medical supplies, although that is important. And we don’t want to simply provide “First-Aider” training. We want to do so much more. What we don’t want to do is build a name for MAMO in Uganda. We don’t want to build MAMO branded clinics or have MAMO branded vehicles or see children in a rural village wearing MAMO branded shirts. What we want is to empower Ugandans to be the missionaries God has called them to be, to help them go to their Jerusalem, and through out their Judea (Acts 1:8), not for our sake, but for theirs.
It isn’t easy. The established pattern is very well established. And, honestly, it is much easier to go with the flow. But God hasn’t called us to go with the flow. God has called us to step outside the norm. And we’re trying. It definitely is not easy!! But it is sooo good.
We could have directed the first aider training. We had a nurse, a fire captain/EMT, and a mom with 20 years of first aid experience on the team. But none of the three spoke the language. None of them really understood the culture. And none of them had ever experienced the Ugandan health care system. Aidah, the Ugandan nurse who traveled with us, was much better equipped to teach. So she did. And did a fantastic job! But it wasn’t necessarily easy. What we were doing had never been done before.
It isn’t easy taking a vision, even a good one, and persevering through the discouragement, misunderstanding, confusion, and lack of definition to see that vision become a reality. Many obstacles come up along the way. It is easy to get off course and lose sight of what the original vision was. Or forget where it came from. And maybe that’s why that plaque stood out so much…it isn’t easy, and not many people are doing it.
But MAMO is doing what God has called us to do. We’re wrestling with difficult questions, persevering through confusion and fighting to clearly define our mission in the midst of so many opportunities. And we are focused on not perpetuating a cycle of dependence. Yes, you can go hand out money. But handing out money only takes care of a lack of material resources, it doesn’t change anything that leads to poverty in the first place. It doesn’t empower people to overcome their cirucmstances and make different choices. It doesn’t educate or equip for a different future reality. We want to do SO much more…we want to empower Ugandans to help Ugandans, not for our sake, but for theirs. It is a radical idea. We don’t have control over how things get used. We can’t guarantee that everything will go according to plan. But we know Who holds the future, we are walking in obedience to His call, and we can trust that He will work out the details. That makes all the difference in the world.