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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The gift of dance

Uganda is a beautiful country.  It is also a country that has suffered much through war after war, dictators, and the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army).  The people struggle to survive.  Most are extremely impoverished and barely have food to eat.  Clean water is hard to come by and most collect rain water or go to an area cistern to fill jerry cans with unclean water to take home in order to cook, bathe, wash their clothes.  Education is important but most struggle to pay even the basic fee of $150.00 a year.  In spite of all of this, one thing I have seen in the people of Uganda is their creativity.  They are able to make things with their hands, baskets, bowls, jewelry, drums, carved wooden items such as chairs and frames.  The Ugandans love music too, and after so many years of suffering at the hands of dictators and the struggles of war, they long for a creative outlet that inspires and brings beauty back to their everyday lives.  We had a team member almost 2 years ago who went.  She is a ballet teacher and spent time teaching a small group of students basic ballet.  This so inspired this young group that they have tried to continue teaching themselves through simple videos and random classes taught by others who came to follow up.  They want so much to dance, to for even a while, take themselves beyond the struggle of life into the beauty that dance expresses.  This creative outlet is a small venue to hope.  Through Mercy Uganda, we will provide that opportunity for the young Ugandan's.  Our Ministry Liaison/Client Advocate-Education, Lauren Walker will be hosting a Ballet Workshop for students to come and explore the opportunity to become part of a dance program.  Then, weekly classes will be taught, and the students will be encouraged in their creativity.

 I think of the many Psalms in Scripture that give reference to dance, and how David even danced before King Saul on numerous occasions.  I can close my eyes and imagine the joy in a person's heart as they dance before the Lord in thanksgiving.  I can remember my own children when they were little, how they expressed their joy through simple childlike dance.  It seems to somehow, for the moment, make life a little easier to bear.  It somehow makes the struggles of this life disappear if even for a little while.  We are excited and honored to have the opportunity to work with the students in such a way.  We will be leaving on January 19th for our next trip to Uganda.  During that trip Lauren will be moving there and committing to at least 18 months in Uganda, working in basic literacy with those who have been unable to go to school, working in areas of education with some of the schools in teaching a class or two, and providing the ballet classes for the youth.  We are collecting used ballet slippers in all sizes, and at least a dozen pair in sizes 7 and 8.  If you, or someone you know may have a pair of the dance slippers that you can share with us, we would love to hear from you.  Lauren is also hoping to collect three specific books that will be of great help in teaching not only ballet, but expanding language. The books are: Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet by Gail Grant ($9.99), 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet: The Eigh-year program of Leningrad's Vaganova Choreographic School  by V.S. Kostrovitskaya ($12.99), and Basic Principles of Classical Ballet by Agrippina Vaganova ($7.95) All three books are available at  We are also looking for any DVD's or VHS copies of professional classical ballet being performed.  If you have an old copy lying around, or find one at a yard sale or flea market, we would love to recieve it.  Please pray for us as we offer this creative outlet for the youth of Uganda.  Pray that God will be honored and glorified, and that these children will find peace in the midst of struggle, that they will find joy in the midst of hardship. Most of all, that they will come to know the Lord and will ultimately dance for Him.

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