Remembrances of Africa
One of the most powerful memories of my trip to Uganda occurred near the end of the trip. I had been taken 8.8 kilometers (5.5 miles) through Kyenjojo into the countryside, onto dirt roads through a tea plantation, that became a walking path through the jungle. There I saw the mud house built by Gene, Kirsten and Valerie. It was a new mud house to replace the old mud house which was falling down.
Our purpose in going was to deliver supplies to the family (a woman and three children) who lived there. These children were sponsored by families in PA, who had brought gifts of clothing, school supplies and a few toys. It astounded me to realize that they walked this path twice daily to attend school.
Watching these children receive their gifts was moving beyond all words. They beamed, they laughed, they celebrated as each new item emerged from its box. It was like watching children at their birthday, only these were children who had never had birthday presents before. But as excited as these children were, the real joy was evident somewhere else — on the faces of those giving “their” children these gifts. That simply defies description.
And, of course, some gifts were for the mother, too. Each one who had brought something for the sponsored children had the foresight to remember their mother. I was not a sponsor for these children, but was able to give mosquito netting to the mother. She was so grateful and so excited to receive them.
Then came that unexpected moment. There was a bit of a clearing behind the house. Two small girls, obviously drawn by the sounds of celebration, simply emerged from the jungle, as if they materialized from nowhere. They were dressed in rags. Their bellies were distended from hunger. Their eyes were wide at the spectacle in front of them.
There was simply no way we were going to let this moment pass. We invited them into the celebration. They were a bit cautious, but simply could not resist the allure. I’m sure they didn’t really want to resist. I had some extra clothing from my daughters, who had sent something with me so that they, too, could take part in this mission. We sorted through the clothes and found those that would fit. It wasn’t easy, because these children of the jungle had smaller frames than my girls and yet had protruding stomachs. But we managed. Keli took some photos. I hope my daughters can rejoice to see their gifts put to such good use.
One of the ladies from FBC Barnwell had specifically asked me to find a child for her to sponsor. I didn’t have to find the child, God brought her right to me. And one for my family to sponsor as well. God is great in His mercy and in His loving kindness.