When Bean Soup is a Four Course Meal

Posted by on May 23, 2012

Some days our souls get a five-star, four course meal that we just can’t stop thinking about. I had one of those days today even though I was only eating bean soup.

In the middle of this crazy week, jetting from here to there to do this then that, I stopped – and so did time – when I caught up with my friend Suzy Livingston. For two hours, we sort of ate but mostly talked. We laughed a lot, told stories and then worked to stave off tears when the subject turned to something that matters more to us than words express.

Suzy and her husband, Bob, work with our water partner, Every Village. They live in Africa’s northern Uganda (which shares South Sudan’s southern border) and travel into and out of South Sudan several times a year. They have three beautiful children and somewhere in the middle of loving the people of South Sudan, the Livingstons began to equally care about the families of northern Uganda – in particular, the women there.

So for a glorious 120 minutes, we talked, me about our hopes for Sister Effect and about how we’re asking God to make this an organization that brings deep and lasting transformation to both world hemispheres. And Suzy told me all about the dreams for a new business she is beginning. Friday Market Beads is newly underway and offers Ugandan women an opportunity to sell the beautiful, unique beads that they create at a fair market price in the U.S.

So we sat in a corner of a smallish Houston restaurant, loud with midday din and crowds glued to laptops or handhelds and we remembered together the women that we so love – our sisters on the other side of the globe. And as we talked, the café’s cool air and endless drone gave way to hot sub- Saharan winds and the chiseled, ebony face of my friend Wilma, a South Sudan schoolteacher with five children. Wilma had fled war, lived in an Ethiopian refugee camp and then returned to invest in her bluehost people by working ten hours a day as a teacher. Before and after hours, she collects firewood and water to cook breakfast and dinner for her family. As we conversed, Suzy introduced me to Agnes and Emily (pictured), both Ugandan survivors of some of the LRA’s most devastating atrocities. Both women, she explained, longed to lift themselves and their families out of crushing poverty and both were so grateful that the beads they are creating may offer unprecedented and sustainable hope for their futures.

At 3:15 p.m., I hugged Suzy, wished her well on her return flight to Uganda and promised to be in touch. A minute later I stepped into the blinding sunlight, feeling more alive and hopeful, more ‘full’ and satisfied than I can express. And as I climbed into my car and headed in the direction of my next stop, it occurred to me that dreaming and working together with and for these women that we so love – Suzy in Uganda, me in South Sudan, was more soul-quenching and filling than the coolest, clean water and finest food on this planet.

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