When Does Serving Stop And Enabling Begin?

Let me start by saying I love my life, I love the place I live and the people I live with. I love God and I love serving Him. I am humbled that He chose me to be a light and help to the people here. And even in the hard times here (which are far out weighed by the good times)there is still joy and many things to be grateful for. We are at seventeen months here and I still pinch myself sometimes because I can’t believe our wonderful, crazy life! But there are struggles and I think one of my biggest ones right now is that line between God’s command to love and serve others or enabling and spoiling others.

I know that so many of the cultural norms can’t be changed just because I wouldn’t do things the same. My ways are not necessarily the best way and their ways are not always the wrong way.  But because I try to live my life by the Word of God and His leading, and I am trying to point people to Him, there are things that I have to try to teach a different way of doing. The struggle right now is with parents who give up all responsibly to their children if we give any kind of assistance. A wise man once told me when I was trying to help a friend get out of the drug life, you hold your hand out so that they can pull themselves up, you don’t hold out your hand and pull them up. That’s what he did with me, and then helped me help myself. And I’ve always remembered that and try to do that with others. Help them to help themselves, give a helping hand but not a handout. It is extremely hard to do that here, and I pray I don’t get to the point that I don’t want to help anyone.

I’m tired, emotionally, of being appointed Mother to too many kids that have a parent who, because we want to HELP them, as soon as we do they totally wash their hands of all responsiblity. And when I try to teach them that this is not right, I offend them and cause hurt feelings. Friends of Mandate are paying for college for an exceptional young lady. Essentially I am just the executor of the money to get her through school. But her mother now won’t take any responsibility in any part of her life now. Even at the college filling out enrollment forms with the mother there, they insisted my and Christians names were put as the parents. I pushed back and said no but it caused major embarrassment and tears. So we did. I’m sure partly, the mother fears if there is financial problems they would come to her for the money, but we have denied them nothing financially. Ever. If there are calls for parents to meet with school officials it is now considered our responsibility, not the parents. Look, I raised two young men, I sacrificed time and energy and everything in me to help them succeed. I am raising a little girl now at my older age, like the saying goes “been there, done that” and really don’t want to do it again! I am not going to another parent\teacher conference lasting six hours, especially when I don’t understand a word of what’s being said!

Chris asked me once when I voiced my aggravation what service means to me. I do believe I was sent here to serve others but what good am I doing if I am perpetuating cultural values that are not beneficial to the culture. How do I help someone when that just leads to them becoming dependent on me? Its a problem here, shirking responsibility for your children, having too many to be able to care for. I cannot be a true mother to 18 kids when half of them actually have a parent. I will be a help to work with them to better their lives, get an education but just as they are unable to do all for their child, I can’t do it all either.

And put on top of that the headaches of raising teenagers. Definitely already lived through that! Trying to teach them that I am here to help them with their education, living expenses don’t include satellite TV and internet! Learning to be responsible for themselves. The two girls that are in college do very, very well with the money they get each month, usually having a little left over each month. The boy we are helping through high school hasn’t done so well with his money and we are working on that. He does not have any good influence and the half-brother he has is definitely not teaching him how to prioritize. The brother lost his job, comes to us begging for money for food yet makes sure his TV and internet stays on. I don’t have much sympathy in that situation – I know what it is like to scrape together grocery money and I can promise you when we went through those times we did not have TV, internet and I didn’t get to have my nails done! I do want better for them, but I want them to learn you have to start with the education and use that to go on to be successful – you don’t start out with all the “stuff” while borrowing money for food.

I never expected when moving here to be mother to so many, to be “Mama Raelee”, it has many joys but also the same pain and aggravation as raising our own kids. The seven orphan children don’t ever give us any problems, and lately their father has been doing what he can to help in feeding them and just being around. He married a woman who won’t have anything to do with the children, even though she lives there. But the next parent/teacher meeting, he WILL be the one going!

I still have one more of my own to raise. Never dreamed I would be this age and raising another child while being a grandmother! But she is such a gift from God and joy to our lives. That does not keep me from waking up in cold sweats thinking about her teenage years!

This morning we are waiting the arrival of the two hundred rabbits, so much excitement here with the workers. They are excited because the will get to see the fruition of the job they have been working so hard on the past month. They are very excited that they found out yesterday they will still be working for the next month or so on another building and plastering our building and the apartments. We have been very proud of them, they have all been giving a part of their pay every week towards medical – without us even asking. And a few have been giving us at least half of their pay to save up. Some want to get solar panels so they can have lights in their homes. We made a deal that when they save half we will match the other. They also pool a part of their money and give that to someone in need in the village. It is so awesome to see how they will work together to accomplish goals and to give part of what they have to help someone else. We have seen so much progress in them in the year and a half we have been here. Sometimes we wonder if we make any kind of difference, if we are a light that shines here for God’s Glory but in the past few months we have seen the fruit of things we have done. Little fruits, but fruit nonetheless, that we will feed and water and watch it grow.

I promise you there will be pictures of the rabbits when they get here – hope you have a very blessed day!

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I am a Jesus lover, wife, mother and grandmother. I live in Uganda with two of my best friends and get to experience God's love, grace and mercy everyday. This is my personal blog and posts, pictures and views don’t necessarily represent the views of our organization. They are from our personal experiences as missionaries.

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