“Pleased and satisfied: not needing more.” Yawn. Merriam-Webster Dictionary believes that this defines contentedness, but I beg to differ. That definition, while true, does not even cover the full meaning of what it is like to be content. I believe that contentedness is when joy bubbles up from somewhere deep inside, like from your soul, and you cannot help but let out an exuberant smile and laugh. It is very joyful and peaceful at the same time.
I am most content when I am “home”. The place that I call home is Uganda, Africa with dozens of children swarming me, all gleefully asking for my attention. The first time I traveled to Africa, I had just turned fourteen. I had never traveled outside of the North American continent before, and on my first time outside of the continent, I went without any of my family and instead went with some family friends. I was scared, I did not know what to expect. But from the moment I stepped off of the plane that I had been on for over 24 hours, I could tell that my soul was made to be there.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by an African pastor who was there to take us to our first destination in Uganda. We went to a small village called Mityana where we were greeted by many young children all clambering to have a look at the “Muzungus”, which is their slang word for white people. The smell of the earthy, fresh, and citrusy air enveloped me, and the children’s small hands in my hands and on my arms and created a sensation I knew could only be contentedness. Though throughout my entire life I have been dedicated to serving children in church camps and VBS’s and such, I had never really felt contentedness to that extreme before, and it was spectacular to experience that in that moment.
I was in the Uganda for a month, and everyday I was able to experience like versions of that moment many times over. That month was honestly one of the most important and happy months of my life because it really grew me as a person. Since I was without my own parents, I had to learn how to manage myself and navigate difficult situations all on my own. While I was there I worked with a broad range of children, some with cancer, some who were orphaned, some who were less than a week old. In every place that the family and I worked, I was able to share some of the happiness I possessed with them. I loved to share with the children my personal faith and how much God loves them. Every day while I was working with children I had many opportunities to bless them by kissing their foreheads and telling them how much they were loved. Some of them had never heard that they were loved before, and it was a blessing to me to share that with them. The feeling of having a purpose and being needed to complete that purpose for all the beautiful children I was surrounded by was very key to feeling content.
My middle name is Hope. I feel like it is one of my own callings to gift the hope which easily comes to me to people who it does not come easily to. While many people might shy away from a month long trip to Africa where showers are cold , and children are dirty, and the food tastes a little funny, I found peace there. When I am able to spend all my energy giving hope to others , and am able to fall in bed exhausted at the end of the day, I come away from the day feeling very satisfied with life and very content. Home is where the heart is, and in Uganda where my heart is, I feel most content.