I’ve mentioned her before here
, and here
. Miss Riggs was my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Spanish teacher. I tried signing up for home economics as a junior high elective every year, and somehow always ended up back in Spanish class with Miss Riggs. I know the reason now. The Lord knew I needed to be under the influence of this godly woman.
This summer she and a few others traveled to Africa, but not for the first time. Miss Riggs has been there several times – mostly to visit her sponsored Compassion International children, but also to work in the Ugandan IDP camps. (Internal Displacement) This year was extra special for a several reasons. Miss Riggs’s current students at Jackson Middle School in San Antonio, TX raised over $8,000.00 toward having a water well built in Gulu, Uganda. She was able to be there for the opening of the well and collect and drink the very first drops of water from this well!
Here the villagers are pumping their own water from the newly built well.
Also, Miss Riggs was able to visit several of her sponsored children. Above is Dawit whom she has sponsored from early childhood to graduation. She was then able to set up an account that enabled him to get a higher education and become a teacher. They continue to exchange letters weekly even though Dawit has graduated from the Compassion Project. Dawit has also been an example to his younger brothers (4 of them, I think) and a blessing to his single mother.
I believe the older girl in this photo is Ritah – another of Miss Riggs’s sponsored children. Mariam is the name of the other, and they were able to visit twice – once to Ritah’s home and once to church. Here is an excerpt from one of the email updates I received from while she was there:
Ritah lives in what we would call the slums of Kampala (tin shacks, some with cement, corrugated tin roofs, very little electricity). As we drove up, the little brother and sisters were waiting outside and very excited. Ritah was in her school uniform, a green jumper and barefoot. It’s a law that elementary age girls have short hair in Uganda…as Ritah is still in 6th grade, that’s considered elementary. She was waiting for us and ready with a big hug and smile that never ended. Her father, a very frail man, sells soda from a small refrigerator in their rented house. As we entered inside, so did all the neighborhood children. Ritah speaks English and Lugandan (the national language of Uganda) so we had a good conversation. She talked about her activities in the Compassion project, her involvement with the choir and her progress at school. Last year she wanted to be a teacher and this year she wants to be a doctor. It was a good opportunity to talk with her about how much she could help people in her own country. We looked through the photos that Kelly brought of her family and Jack’s grandchildren…and she pulled out the photo album from Kelly’s visit last summer. Again, this visit confirmed how sponsorship helps the child educationally, spiritually, physically and socially.
And in this photo are Louis and Kenneth- two orphan boys that Miss Riggs has been able to sponsor as well. She was able to visit with the boys a couple of different times and said the following:
Since January, Louis has been able to be in school and Kenneth was moved from the school where he’d been going to a school closer to town. Louis had been abducted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) when he was only 8 years old and was forced to become a soldier. He later escaped and after rehabilitation through World Vision he has an amnesty card and is back in society. Until January, he’d been having to work to support Kenneth and himself and they’d been living in a room built to be a latrine. Things have improved for them the last several months…… They both have beds, mosquito nets, kerosene lamp, 2 plastic chairs, drinking cups, and a stove that uses parafin. Although the lodging is quite small and dark at night, their smiles could light up the room.
And then this cryptic message arrived in my inbox:
Listen, I absolutely did not want to pass this message on over email but I do have some news. Please check your calendar for December, perhaps around Sunday the 28th? Jack and I have something that we’d like Robert to do…and of course for the two of you to be there. Can you guess?
If I hadn’t already been in tears over all of her amazing adventures and ministry in Uganda, I was now. Jack proposed! Jack had been traveling with her all the while, and it was definitely going to be a defining time in their friendship – 3 weeks in a third world country! Well, I’d say that things were defined for each of them as they watched each other give so selflessly of themselves for the sake of Christ and the people of Uganda. After 53 years of living singly for her Lord, she will now have the privilege of sharing her future with a wonderful, godly man.
I could not be happier for her.
Congratulations to Jack and Kelly!
We’ll see you in December!