“Some people give by going,” our pastor told the congregation recently, “and some people go by giving.”

He was talking about an upcoming mission trip, and about the different ways people help and support such efforts. Although I had never heard that quote before, I certainly agreed with it. In fact, it made me think of one of my trips to Uganda a few years ago.

While we were there, we distributed some items that had been donated by people back in the States – newborn kits, consisting of a baby outfit, blanket, crib sheet, gloves, and soap, for new mothers in a government-run hospital so overcrowded that there were women and newborns lying on mats on the floor; t-shirts for members of a soccer team that consisted of young men who would be living on the streets if it weren’t for the program in which they were now taking part; t-shirts and diapers for the babies and toddlers of young women trapped in a cycle of poverty and prostitution, and undergarments for the young women.

Although it was other people who had collected and donated these items, I was the one who got to see and experience the delight, relief, and appreciation of the people who received them. I felt a little guilty about that, and found myself wishing I could adequately share the words of thanks, the tears of joy, and the hugs of gratitude with everyone who had actually donated the clothing, cash, time, equipment, and supplies that I was being thanked for so enthusiastically.

“Don’t sell yourself short,” a friend told me when I was telling her about this after I returned to the U.S. “Maybe it was other people who made the contributions, but you were the one with boots on the ground. You’re the one who was there doing the work.”

In other words, some go by giving, and some give by going.

As I think about this now, I marvel again at the different gifts, skills, strengths, and talents people have, and the ways in which they use these gifts to help others. I’ve seen that over and over during my trips to Uganda. I’ve been there with church groups and business leaders, with trainers, teachers, and teenagers. I am always in awe of the different roles and responsibilities people take on, and how well they fulfill them, whether it’s building shelters, teaching classes, or just spending time with people to let them know they matter.

There are lots of ways to give, whether it’s by going and taking part in something directly, or by supporting it in other ways. Either way, it’s a richly rewarding experience – for everyone.

February 1, 2019
©Betty Liedtke, 2019

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