So now, instead of just feeling excitement when I drive through those amazing fall-colored tree tunnels on the winding back roads or cuddle up in a super soft blanket, I see an opportunity to practice eucharisteo. It's opened my mind and my heart to a whole new depth of joy.
I see their faces everywhere. I hear their laughter. I dream about them. Their smiles, their faces, their hugs, their kisses, their tiny hands in mine. I miss it all. So much. I try not to talk about how much I miss them because I feel like people will think I’ve gone crazy. Why do I miss them so much?
Tiny little children, they can’t be older than three years old, sitting in the street with their hands cupped, begging for money or food or anything. They stare up at me and smile. I can’t get their faces out of my mind. Walking down the streets of Kabalagala, the “red light district” of the city, I see drunks lying on the side of the street and I see young girls who are most likely forced into prostitution to survive. Walking down the street I look into their eyes and I see so much brokenness, so much pain, I can almost feel it in my own heart.
I have been surrounded by so many wonderful children. These children have captured my heart and taught me so much about how to love. Completely. Wholeheartedly. Unselfishly. They don’t think about how long they have with you or when you’re going to leave. They don’t hold back at all. They just love.
I came to Africa thinking that I was going to be teaching, serving, and loving the children and the people here. And yes, I have been doing these things. We’ve been able to teach the wonderful children at Rays of Hope, the school in the slums of Kabalagala. We’ve been able to serve by helping with cooking, cleaning, and doing chores at the houses. And I have fallen in love with every single one of the children at the houses and schools we have gone to. But in reality, I have been taught, served, and loved so much more by every single person I have come in contact with.
I woke up my first morning in Africa to roosters crowing, Lugandan shouts, and children’s laughter outside. It was beautiful. Walking outside I was greeted with wonderful hello hugs and beautiful good mornings from precious children. I’ve never received so much love and I didn’t even know them yet! We spent all day getting to know them and playing with them. It was great. Later that night we were upstairs and heard the children’s beautiful voices singing praises to Jesus. We walked downstairs and see them all on their knees praying out loud and crying out to God. It was the most beautiful, genuine worship I’ve ever seen.
Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step…with complete faith. I believe there is only one truly courageous thing we can do with our lives: to love unconditionally. Absolutely, with all of ourselves, so much that it hurts and then more.