as I sit here listening to the quiet rain in an empty house I am reminded of Uganda. Of the land I left just a week ago. My trip. It engulfed me. I was overcome by renewal, and thanksgiving, and joy, and hope, and pain, and my own stagnation.
As the plane landed and I saw the hills and the lights and felt the hot damp air again it all came rushing back. The pain of why I came before, the joy of why I was there, and the brokenness that lives in that land. Then I walked around the corner and looked for the white faces in the sea of beautiful dark ones. They were jumping and smiling and then I saw my friend turned mother overnight holding her tiny bundle of joy. Zoey is 1 but still oh so tiny. The drive to the guesthouse along the dark roads was filled with laughter and reminiscing and I was overwhelmed. My prayer before I left is that I would be completely present the entire time I was there. I was so aware of it all. The vastness and beauty and brokenness and hope and love and pain.
My week was filled with simply living life there. No big plans or crazy trips. It was just the pleasure of being in that home again. It seemed strange to me how a place that is so foreign and a place I had not been to in years could feel so much like home. Maybe because it is the place I came back to myself. It is the place I dared to dream dreams again and saw joy in. By day two I was zipping around on bodas carrying 2 pizzas like I did that every day!
One of the greatest privileges was getting to see the fruit of answered prayers. My friends have been praying for their little girl for so long and to see the way she was already being grafted into their family was simply beautiful. She has the funniest little personality and she talks/ babbles from the time she gets up to the time she goes to sleep. It almost brought me to tears to hear how the first few days she was so shy and so reserved. The child I saw was filled with life and laughter and I was watching her grow perfectly in her mother's love. Love really does change people. I wish more people could see these transformations take place. Maybe then they would see that the sacrifice that adoption requires is worth it. It is worth it to see Zoey's eyes light up when her mother walks into the room. Or to see the way she responds when her mother calls her name. It was worth it for me to be there and it will always be worth it for me to go back.
I'm going to try and paint you a picture of a lovely morning I had on my trip.
It was a hot day. I mean the kind of heat that presses in on you and makes you walk and talk slower. When the boda man lifts his eyebrows to ask "you need a ride?" I quickly comply. Getting settled I respond with the typical "we go! Tu gende!" The wind whips through my mass of gold curls that will forever signal me as a foreigner, and outsider, a muzungu. We weave in and out of traffic and dodge children and holes and baby goats. I am strangely calm and inwardly laugh at how crazy this all is. Riding on a motorcycle with a stranger in a foreign land and being completely calm. But that is Africa. The land of hysterical contradictions. I reach my destination and haggle over the price. Things are more now because of the price of fuel. I quickly spot my old friends. A girl who has a heart as big as the continent and her husband who keeps right in step. We grab waters and hug and begin to walk up the hill towards our destination. Sun growing hotter and brighter as we go we laugh about old times and try to stay in the shade. When we are sufficiently out of breath we see the building.
The small shack of a school where we are teaching music.
who live in the slums.
and as their culture says, who are "infected".
As soon as they see us the smiles and the laughter starts. I am the visitor and my friends know them all by name. Shouts of "teacher Court-i-ney" and "tea-char Chris" echo through the air. We wait outside the school house because they are still finishing up their lecture. Teacher Mary comes outside and lets us know it will be just a little bit longer. Mary may be the happiest woman I have ever met. She saw these kids were not in school and decided to start one. She takes no pay and her husband left her because she chose to love the least of these. Soon, it is time. We step into the dark hot class room and dozens of faces with brown eyes and white smiles stare back at us. We are introduced and the new children are asked to stand up. They tell us their names. Quietly and timidly we meet a Grace, and a Nixon, and even a Gadaffi. They begin by singing to us and their sweet voices fill the air. As I watch and listen I search their faces. Many are smiling but many are empty and void. I am struck, like a blow to the stomach, with what these children have had to endure. The fact that they are standing--let alone singing is a miracle.
It is our turn to teach them a song. Chris has chosen a simple one that splits the room into 2 sections and you take turns standing up during your part. Simple words that hold deep truth.
Praise ye the Lord.
We laughed and sang and stood up and down until we were out of breath. Then the hour was up and it was time to go. Mary told me to not forget them. I assured her that I could not. As we began to go back down the hill I handed my bottle of fresh cool water to a little boy. It felt wrong to stand there drinking it while I knew what they had to drink everyday. The water cost 50 cents. We all have that in our cars or couch cushions. In the slums that makes you rich.
Being there reminds you that love and laughter and time and music and singing really are the important things. It is not money or fame or comfort that we should seek---but simply to love. The Word says that the He is love. If we are meant to live lives that imitate and emanate our Creator then we must love. We must be ok giving up comfort and money and time. As I sit in the comfort of my home in the States I try to hold on to the truths I learned. I don't want to live a life that is marked by comfort.
So I will try to bend lower and love harder and accept comfort less. I will sacrifice more and look continually into the One who is love and the One who gives everlasting Joy.
The hill down to our guesthouse
a new momma and her baby
The nile...no big deal!