I’m back in the west! I drink Chai Latte’s, I eat cereal for midnight snacks, I wear shorts that show my knees and I’m starting to get caught up on everything I missed with my friends.
It’s the most bizarre transition as this season I know my time in the west is extended and I’m not just “popping in” for a quick shower and a shave before heading back to Africa.
Truthfully I go back and forth between being ecstatic over this period of time with “I love my fiancé and my friends and I can’t wait to get marrieddddd!” and then… dropping slightly and just missing my kids. Missing the adventure and house visits and cuddles and hearing their little voices yell “Sandra! Sandra!” whenever I walk between the mud huts.
I’ve only been back a couple of weeks so everything is still fresh and the stories seem like they still happened yesterday. So in order to not forget them all as my mind gets lost in traffic, I decided to blog a couple of them.
One thing that I’m so proud of is the love that our Leadership League boys have for one another. I’m undone watching them.
Again, our Leadership League is a soccer league we have for boys who because of war “spent more time with guns than pencils” we describe it. Some were abducted by the army as children and over the years escaped or were released. Others spent years living in the jungle running from war in fear of those abductions. Either way, the boys have incredible resilience and are now united with us and the common love of soccer.
Well, this time we were there for an extended weekend in their village and we had scheduled an all day Saturday with them. Soccer, games, teachings and mentorship. Brilliant.
But that morning, while western kids would be flipping on the early cartoons, our boys came to us with a game changer.
“A boy from the village was abducted this week” they started… “He was taken by soldiers and told he had to work and cultivate their land for them. The boy was young however and got scared that they would kill him, so he ran away in the night. When the soldiers woke up and saw that he was gone, they were very angry. They couldn’t find him anywhere. So they came to us.
His brother is in the League and they told him that if he refused to work and “pay his brothers debt” by cultivating the land, they would kill him and his family.”
“So” the boys continued, “We are also his family. One brothers burden is all of our burden so we will go together with him to help him cultivate the land of the soldiers. So we are terribly sorry, but we cannot come and be with you until this afternoon.”
I wanted to cry. The emotions of what these boys go through on a daily basis and constant fear of re-abduction is beyond me, but this time I wanted to cry not only because of sympathy but because of pride. Not in anything we had done, but simply in who they are. They love SO WELL.
That morning they went off together and cultivated the land and returned to the base just in time for a surprise lunch we had prepared for them and time together talking, dreaming and praying for their future. They are my favorites.
Another story is how Jesus moves so perfectly. Always. One day at the end of a session with our Leadership League, a man came up to us looking very… “down and out”.
His eyes were cloudy and they stayed glued to the floor at all times.
We started asking him questions, basics at first “What’s your name, where are you from?” trying to bring ease to his obviously nervous self.
Eventually his story came forth.
“I’ve been cursed. The witchdoctor’s of the village were paid to put a curse on me and it makes me go blind. Everyday at 6pm my eye sight leaves me and I cannot see until morning. I heard your God might be able to heal.”
Sometimes I have all the confidence in the world that God will heal on the spot and sometimes, I honestly don’t know. I just know that my job is to love and to pray and Jesus does the rest. But this time, looking at this tender man and his mustard seed of faith that God could be bigger than the witchdoctor, I just kneeeeew that I knew, that God had something for him.
So we prayed hugged him and told him to come find us in the morning and let us know what the night had brought him.
Sure enough, waking up at the crack of dawn, we went outside to use the latrine first thing and there was the man waiting to tell us the news.
“6pm came and 6pm went and I could see.”
Jesus is faithful.
Hugs. Laughter. More hugs. And prayers of thanksgiving.
Jesus is bigger than the witchdoctor! And I am so in love with this God who loves to heal.
So though my life feels like just a constant of transition and opposites, I'm holding on so tightly to every moment and savoring the memories of my babies and looking forward to a wedding that is less than 6 weeks away. What a dream life is and if we choose, such a beautiful series of unimaginable wonder!