Friday, January 19, 2007

The legacy of Adam Langford

For months now I have been sharing with you emails that I have been getting from a friend of mine named Terra who remained in Uganda, Africa after our trip there in August/Sept 2006. In her latest letter, she informed us about a friend of hers, an American named Adam Langford, that was recently killed in an accident while serving over there. She included his last words, rather, the last blog he was able to write for others to see. It inspired me, and if you open your heart even just a little, it will change you too. Please take the time to read it all, and let the legacy of Adam Langford live on in your heart.
"Uganda has problems. I am not sure of the politically correct term these days: Developing Nation, 3rd World Country, or Emerging State , so I will just say that Uganda is definantly not one of the more advanced countries in the world. I don’t believe they are at the bottom of the list, but they are no where near the top. This was quickly evident to me when I ventured here 10 months ago from my home in America . From the time I stepped foot into Uganda I saw the effects and the causes of a country that appears to have gotten the short end of the stick in this new global community: misplaced populations, poor infrastructure, little education, few hospitals, corrupt government, and a culture that doesn’'t quite fit with the ever expanding Western way of doing things. The longer I am here, the more problems I seem to find.

Like any educated Westerner, I immediately start looking for solutions to all of these problems. I quickly learn though that quick solutions don’t often work, in fact they usually cause more problems. So, I search for sustainable answers, but all I have come up with so far are more questions. Uganda has big problems.

For the past couple of months I have found myself engaged in a conversation with several different people from different walks of life, “How do we help Uganda?” Over the past several years the affluent parts of the world have also been engaged in that same conversation. Aid organizations, churches, non-profits, governments, the UN, Bill Gates, and even U2’s Bono have been vigorously working to put an end to poverty and all the problems that go with it in places like Uganda. I am very glad this collective group of intelligent, well funded people are focusing on the problems here, because for the life of me I can’t figure them out. Living in the midst of all these problems with no solutions is difficult. I am constantly faced with the immense suffering. Yesterday I had a church member plead with me for a job because as he said, “'My family is dying Adam, you have to help me.”' While this was a bit of an over dramatic plea to get an emotional response from me, it is really not that far from the truth. I didn'’t have any work for him; he will have to suffer through it.

I have endured quite a bit of suffering myself in the last couple of months due to the problems of Uganda. While Ugandan’s themselves are amused at my perceived problems, they are very real for me. Last month I had no electricity in my house for 26 straight days. It came back on day 27 only to go off again for another 3 days. For all of you who are romanticizing this simplified life by thinking how great it would be to read all of those books you’'ve been meaning to next to the soft glow of lantern light, try taking freezing cold showers for a month; that should you bring you back to reality. During this time, while I was trying to figure out what the problem was, I uncovered that my landlord has been stealing electricity from me. This was topped off by four days of no water right at the end of my 30 day electricity fast, which was a nice break from the cold showers. I have been able to fix my relatively trite problems for the mean time, but because this place is what it is I am confident they will be back. Uganda has problems and I am suffering because of them.

In September I visited a close by village with two visitors from America who were in town for a few days. Our time in Kyabirawa was shaping up to be a pretty normal day in the village. We took a tour of a garden, we greeted some of the neighbors, and we shared a meal. After we ate, our host Maanda Wilson told us that one of the elder church members had recently lost his youngest daughter and people were gathering for the burial. We agreed to go over and give our condolences to the family and view the body. Just as in America, it is customary to view the body of the deceased as part of the ritual of saying goodbye. In Uganda, they don’t have funeral homes that are able to present the body in a manor that reflects the living person. The 33 year old women that we saw looked dead. It was a disturbing site. Her older sister was holding back the sheet that covered her lifeless body. I asked her, “How did your sister die?” The older sister stared at me for a moment and then shook her head with a disgusted, frustrated look on her face. “Don’t you know?” she said in an exhausted gasp. I thought I had messed up. I didn’t think that question was inappropriate, but this lady was obviously disturbed. “She died of AIDS! Like everyone else around here, she died of AIDS.” Her voice cracked and a she started to tear up. I softly said “nga kitalo” which is a Lusoga word of lament that is solely used in the midst of death, it literally translates ‘oh no!’ I had nothing else to say. Uganda has problems and its people are suffering to the point of death.

My illusions of solving the problems of this country have long ago left me. They have been replaced with the hope of a risen savior who understands what it means to suffer in this world. This world refuses to work on God’s terms and thus will always be filled with suffering. And because I live in this world, I am privy to that suffering whether I am living in America or Uganda. While I will never stop trying to eliminate the suffering in this world, the suffering in Uganda, the suffering in losing a younger sister to AIDs, or even the suffering in my own life, I do not believe that is all I should be doing. Solutions are wonderful. Cures are amazing. Answers are great. But in this broken world, I am beginning to believe we need more people who are willing to enter into the suffering of others whether they can help or not. I want to choose to suffer for the sake of others. I am not always sure how to do that or what it looks like, but most days I wake up and can’t think of anything else to do. Uganda has problems, I pray that God will solve them, but until He does I will also pray for the strength to suffer."

"Suffering cheerfully endured, ceases to be suffering and is transmuted into an ineffable joy." -- Mahatma Gandhi

To see more on the story, Go HERE


roxann said...

Bless you Adam!

Dustin said...


We would like to publish this post in SpitBox but did not feel right doing so without permission. I am not sure if I should get that permission from you or someone else? If you have any insight please let me know.

Dustin |

happytheman said...

Thanks for the post, found it when looking for Adam's funeral information in Oklahoma.

Bethany Gaddis said...

Yes Dustin you can use this-just make sure to note the new pic and the link at the bottom that wasn't there before. Spread the WORD.

Chelf said...

I have been looking at so many posts that are from people whom Adam touched. I am amazed at how many...

Our loss is Heaven's gain.

Michelle Gaddie, OKC, OK

Andria Young said...

How strange that I stumbled upon you like this. Terra and I met in Uganda too, where we ended up attached at the hip for about 3 months, and we got to know Adam together. I sent her the copy of his blog, and I was so glad to see when she passed it on. He WAS an inspiring guy, and the things we talked about still light a fire under me, even more now. Somebody else put this on their blog, but it's so true:"Adam only needs a few hours with you before he’s forever in your memory." And he's STILL getting through to people now. Pretty cool. It was good to stumble upon another Uganda connection with you! Take care.

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