Agape

Date: June 22, 2014
Location: Mbale, Uganda (Aggie's house)

"We come from a very loving home. In our home, we are taught to go out there and love. If you love, life won't be as hard for you. If you are conservative and stick to yourself, life will be much harder. Just love. That's what this life is all about. Just love."

This weekend, David, Fiona, and I were fortunate enough to meet Aggie's (my Ugandan roommate's) family. We travelled eight hours to Eastern Uganda to the town where Aggie grew up, Mbale. When we met her older sister, Perina, she greeted us with the words above, and of course she concluded with the words, "You are most welcome," as most Ugandans seem to do. "Most welcome...most welcome. We are so happy to have you here. Nnsanyuse Okukulaba." (probably didn't spell that last part right but I do know how to pronounce it!)

Soon thereafter, the "welcome" we received extended beyond words. And by that I mean Aggie's 11-year-old sister proceeded to kill a chicken for us for dinner. I wish you could've seen it. I'm talking literally take the chicken out to the front yard with a huge knife, break its neck, and cut its head off...REAL casual. All I want to know is, Alison Widner & family, why didn't you welcome me with a headless chicken when I visited you over Easter break this year? Lolz.

And since I'm a strong believer in "pics or it didn't happen," here's a few pictures remembering the life (and tragic death) of this poor innocent chicken (which tasted wonderfully for dinner, by the way). I apologize in advance to all the vegetarians out there - close your eyes and scroll down a bit.
David begins to mourn the inevitable death of this poor chicken.
Yes, that is a dead chicken in a bowl.
Plucking the feathers off the chicken.
Plucking the chicken some more.
All done!

I apologize for the "chicken pornography," as Aggie called it when she saw these pictures. And, yes mom and grandma, I actually did help pluck and cook that chicken. See, I told YOU I could cook! (kinda...sort...not really).

What a warm (and delicious) welcome it was, indeed. We also helped cook matooke (my fav). But, of course, the best part of the night was this:
Me and another African baby...surprised, Dennis?! This is Precious, daughter of Aggie's older sister, Perina, the same sister who said the quote at the beginning of this post, aka one of the most loving people I've ever met in my life. It only makes sense that she is Aggie's sister.

Aggie and her family love with a perfect, selfless love. Really reminds me of my mom, pops, and grandma and the way they love. As I write these words while sitting on Aggie's couch this fine Sunday morning jamming to African gospel music, I can't help but think of a certain Bible verse that many people often overlook: "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). And how exactly is our Heavenly Father "perfect?" In love. Our God is a God of perfect, selfless love. So if our one goal in life is to be perfect in love like Jesus, I'd say Aggie and her family are on the right track.
Aggie & I in front of her house in Mbale.
Aggie & I in front of her house in Mbale.
Boda selfie!

Aggie and her family are a visible sign of God's love - proof of His existence. Their love - their perfect, selfless love - furthers my belief in Him. Aggie's family lives out exactly what it means to be a Christian.

This morning, David, Fiona, and I went to Perina's Christian Church in Mbale. One of the very first things the pastor said was, "A Christian life is not an ordinary life. When you become a Christian, you cease to be ordinary."

Aggie's family is no ordinary family. Aggie and Perina are not ordinary people. They are Christians, in the truest sense of the world possible. They are a family of joy, people of love, children of God. Theirs is a love unlike any other. Theirs is a love like Jesus'. Agape. A word used to describe the perfect, selfless love of God. Theologian Michael J. Himes writes, "In short, the ground for the final judgment is AGAPE. The only relevant question at the judgment is, 'Did you give yourself away to those who needed you?'...Not one doctrine, not one specifically religious act of worship or ritual turns out to be relevant to the criterion for the last judgment. The only criterion for that final judgment, according to Matthew 25, is how you treated your brothers and sisters."*** This is love. This is agape - dying to yourself and rising to a new life lived for others. 

As Aggie's entire family prayed for us and blessed us before we left, I saw agape in their eyes. I saw God in their smiles. As they showered blessings upon us and thanked God for being able to meet us, I thought to myself, "It is because of people like this that I believe in You, Jesus." Their love - their perfect, selfless love - furthers my belief in Him.

But here's by far the craziest part of the story. When we first met Perina on Saturday, she had just returned from her boyfriend's funeral. Yet her perfect, selfless love for us completely covered any sort of sadness she was experiencing.

Let that sink in for a second.

We met her the SAME day of her boyfriend's funeral, and yet within five minutes of meeting her, all I saw in her eyes was agape. Not sadness, depression, despair, or self pity, but agape. Perfect, selfless LOVE. Even on one of the hardest days of her life.

How many of you can honestly say the same about yourselves when you face a similar struggle? I know I can't.

Lord, let us love with Your agapic love today.

Agape Always,
Haley

***Source: Michael Himes, Doing the Truth in Love, Ch. 4 "Responding to God's Love: Compassionate Service"

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PACKY!!! Wish I could be with you in chitown today to celebrate.

Comments

  1. What a beautiful post, Haley!!! And what amazing pictures! Love you and you are ALWAYS in my prayers. Keep up the great work.

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  2. http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/instagrammingafrica-narcissism-global-voluntourism-83838/#.U6XNBSVZZrg.facebook

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    Replies
    1. Interesting article! Important things to consider. Thanks for sharing!!!

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