I always learn something from my friend Monica.

She learned to read and write in the last decade or so, when she moved to Kampala from her village in northern Uganda. But despite my college education, she has a lot to teach me.

When I visited her shared compound on Saturday, she couldn’t wait to show me inside her house. I had to comply looking into the toothy ivory grin parting that smooth, ebony face. And when I entered, I understood why.

Monica’s new home, where she fosters various rescued street children for a local NGO, is clearly a bubbling little spring of joy for her. After years of cleaning larger homes, Monica has—wait for it—two bathrooms inside a modest, concrete, six-room house! She even cooks inside the house. The floors remain unfinished, the whole thing could use a paint job, and I believe she had six pieces of furniture, counting the four beds. But as we stood in her living room with its two unvarnished benches and modest television stand, her delight was infectious. “I never thought I would have a house like this!” she gushed.

She lives in poverty, but I always get something precious from Monica. And not just the brimming bag full of cucumbers, spring onions, and lemons she packed me from her garden. See, Monica is rich.

Today I’m writing to gift you two pearls that Africa has folded into my hands with her own mahogany-colored ones: the gift—the sheer joy—of simplicity, perhaps with a side of perspective.

On many of the Wednesdays of 2017, I’m helping my friend Barbara Rainey, on everthinehome.com. We’re exploring what she calls “prayer lessons”: ideas to pray for ourselves, our most critical relationships, our communities. This month, as we pray for our homes, I hope to share with you Monica’s jewel: A form of fasting for our homes. Hop on over and check it out here.

 

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