For this month’s Behind the Scenes Worship series, I am rerunning a blog I wrote last year about one of my absolute favorite people in the world.
Auntie Ruth is the type of person who makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world. I first met her in 2004, when I traveled to Uganda to begin my journey with the African Children’s Choir. She is one of those truly selfless people that you’re so thankful are still in this world.
Auntie Ruth gave up her bedroom so three clueless Americans could have a comfortable, private place to sleep. Her bed was a simple mattress covered in mosquito netting. She called it her princess bed.
When I walked into that house on my first day in Africa, exhausted, overwhelmed, and wide-eyed, Auntie Ruth welcomed me with open arms. I instantly felt at home and at peace.
When I returned to Uganda three years later, I wasn’t sure if she would remember me. Lots of westerners grace the door of that house. I was prepared to reintroduce myself. Before I could set my bag down, she flew across the room and enveloped me in a huge hug.
“Oh, my auntie has returned!”
Auntie Ruth lives and works at the training facility in Makindye, Uganda, on the outskirts of Kampala. The two-story house comfortably sleeps about 30 people. When children are chosen to tour with the African Children’s Choir, they come to that house for several months to prepare. The children are housed, fed, and taught there. The main room serves as a schoolroom, rehearsal space, and dining hall. The space is well used.
Auntie Ruth prepares food for everyone in the training facility. She makes the best Chapati in Uganda. Chapati is a grilled flatbread that is common in several African countries. It soon became my favorite Ugandan delicacy, and I waited in anticipation when I smelled her cooking it.
She cooks outdoors, over open flames in big iron pots. Each meal takes several hours to prepare. No one in that house ever goes hungry, and those kids eat A LOT. She insists that each visitor take a heaping portion, even if you insist that you’re not that hungry. She even saves the good meat for you. Auntie Ruth makes sure you are well cared for while you are in her home.
I wondered why she would go to bed by 8:00 p.m. most nights, if not earlier. She told me that she awoke at 3:00 a.m. each morning. She had to start on breakfast by at least 5:00. I asked her what she did with those two hours before breakfast preparation.
Auntie Ruth gave me one of her sweet smiles and said, “I pray.”
Two hours in prayer. I cannot fathom spending this kind of time praying. I get antsy after just a few minutes of prayer time, and this humble, beautiful African woman spent two whole hours each day with her Lord and Savior. It explains why she is ever joyful, always smiling, and so able to put other’s needs above her own.
This is the kind of faith I long for. Her simple trust in Jesus continues to inspire and haunt me.
Is there an “Auntie Ruth” if your life?