"How blessed is he who considers the helpless..." Psalm 41:1

Thursday, June 4, 2009

African family

I had three triggers in Uganda. I call them triggers because they were the times my heart broke or times that my broken heart revealed itself.

The first was at Bukadea when our team reached the care point midday. We were told the 500+ children had been waiting since early morning. Some had walked miles. Likely hadn’t eaten a single bit of food that day. We passed out the goodies, even mosquito nets for the HIV children. And we served posha (porridge). At some point in our hectic pouring, passing out, washing, refilling… we were told there wasn’t enough food for them all. So we downsized the portions, but the reality soon sunk in. It really hit me when one of the widows said “Just give to the little ones, they will be upset if they don’t get. The big ones, they are used to it.” REALLY? They have been disappointed so many times that it’s no surprise to go without food, a basic need? So with emotion welling up I kept moving, only to become overwhelmed with my next few bowls. All of these beautiful wide eyes, staring, patiently waiting, not knowing that it was almost gone… Who do you give it to? How could I pass one child and feed another? I will never forget that moment.

The second was listening to a young lady. She was the oldest child in her family and the head of her home. She told a heartbreaking story of how she lost her parents and moved and struggled for so many years. At one point, after her mother had passed and they were still with their father she mentioned how he had not “Cared for them in the good way.” This immediately brought me to the comment Big made about my baby Isaac. He said (and repeated multiple times) that I must always remember to “bring him up in the good way.” It hit so close to home my heart just broke.

The third was in the bus on the last day. We were each sharing about something that had been revealed to us. One of the women said that it is so hard to live somewhere (home in the US) when your heart is here (Uganda). I lost it. Many of my good friends have heard me talk about how my heart is in different places.

I can’t describe the feeling I had that day, but I can tell you that so many memories of my close friends came rushing back to me. I kept hearing my boy Paco, that passed last October, tell me that “one day I will go to Africa.” “one day he will take me to his home.” “one day I will love Africa.” I kept thinking, it’s not the country, as beautiful as it is. It is the people. And I don’t have this great expectation to change the world. as wonderful as that would be. I don’t just see streets and orphanages lined with starving children. I see my friends. I see my family. Big told me before I left for Uganda that it should have been Senegal. I was supposed to be with their families. Some of those guys were my family. I miss them terribly. Experiencing Africa without them was bittersweet and more bitter than sweet at this point.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Oh, I love this post!! I haven't been to Africa yet (going in September to Uganda with Hope Chest) but I think you echo exactly what I will feel. I feel like Africa and its people are just beautiful inside and out. I can't imagine how much my heart will want to break from what I'll see and burst with the joy of the people. What a beautiful contradiction. Anyway, your post makes me even more anxious to get there. Knowing my soon to be son is just a stone's throw away in Ethiopia will make it even better. Looking forward to following your blog!!