Today is another birthday. This time it is not one of my daughters, but a young lady who is serving an internship here in Uganda. Her name is Rachel, she is from Australia, and she has been a delight for all of us to get to know. She has been here three months helping teach the children, and I think she is responsible for some of their accents. For instance, the children are all fascinated by the hair on my arms. They very quietly and curiously rub my arm as if it were a cat, then eventually they will give it a tug. Today, one of them told me, “That is hay-ya.”
I spent this morning tutoring Kabajungu Immaculate. She is twelve years old, but is just now learning to count. I would point to a number on a flashcard, then count to that number, then we would hold hands and take that number of steps. We walked the entire perimeter of the school. And if we came to a five, we did high a high five. The same with tens. Before long, she was counting regularly without missing any numbers, but sight recognition of the number itself is still a struggle.
At the school, I saw the sandbox Bob Pattillo had built. Bob and Kaye truly amaze me. I really don’t know their ages, but I know they have the hearts of twenty-year-olds. Bob has built a mud house, painted the school, repaired furniture, and anything else needed. Kaye is in her element teaching the children. They are remarkable servants and an example to all of us. This is their first time in Uganda, but they have gone annually to Nicaragua for several years with an organization called “Chosen Children.” Do you detect a theme here? If so, you have a glimpse into the hearts of these special people.
Just before lunch, I went with Alissa and Veda to visit a lady named Harriet. She lives in one of the “apartments” near the office. It is actually an 8×12 room with concrete walls. It would have had the feel of a prison cell if not for the fact that she had a bunk bed, an upholstered chair and love seat, a coffee table, a dresser with a small TV, and a board with pegs the length of the side wall on which her entire wardrobe was hanging. It was clean and I could tell she took pride in that. Harriet has had a difficult 18 months. We listened to her story, offered her consolation from the Scriptures, and prayed with her. I was very touched by her story, and I will not forget to continue praying for her.
After lunch, we went to the dormitory for a “Play Day” with the children. What a blast. Valerie and Kirsten helped them finger paint, others helped make balloon animals, we blew up beach balls (though to Ugandan children, a beach ball is just a giant soccer ball). We wanted to fill water balloons, but couldn’t. So we improvised. I had a syringe from the clinic, which I could fill with a small amount of water and then squirt the children. Then we discovered that the same use could be made of the balloon pump, with maybe ten times the capacity. The kids all acted like they didn’t want to be squirted, when of course that is precisely what they wanted. And I managed to get some of Team Uganda little wet in the process.
Then it all got kicked up a notch. I helped Kirsten and Valerie fill up a washtub so that the finger-painters could wash up. Or at least I thought that was the purpose. As I then went on to fill up my little syringe, suddenly I was engulfed from behind by a small tidal wave. I turned to see the two young ladies, whom I had just helped, howling in laughter along with all the children, and holding the smoking gun (or in this case, the empty wash basin). And so I thought to myself, “Game ON!” I doubt either of them suspected that at my age, I could still run them down and return the favor, but run them down I did, the children chasing right behind me. In the end, we were all wet from head to toe, which produced the quote of the day. As we were deciding whether to return to the hotel or wait for the next van, Valerie said, “I have to go now. I have swamp-britches!” 🙂