A few days ago marked six months since I arrived in Uganda this year. In some ways, that number feels accurate—small-town Texas life and plentiful Starbucks and “fitting in” to a sea of faces seems very removed. In other ways, it doesn’t seem like half a year at all. Wasn’t it just recently that I was a weepy mess with a 50-pound carry on in line for the security checkpoint? Time…what a strange phenomenon.
Only two and a half weeks from now, I will be making a return trip to the States for a six-week home assignment over Thanksgiving and Christmas. I feel very ready (and increasingly excited) for that visit. In light of the upcoming departure, I think I’m also feeling tired—as if I’m preparing to let down and have some serious spiritual, physical, and emotional rest. In the meantime, I’m striving to continue to be engaged with my students as we finish this term. Now more than ever, my two lives seem to be competing for my attention. Pray that the Ugandan one wins out for the next two weeks!
While Thursday marked my 6 months, it was also another day at school. In the morning, I headed over to the “baby” class—our four-year-olds! These kids might have me wrapped around their collective fingers. I love the enthusiasm of these little ones, their pure wonder at the ability to create, and their ecstatic hugs and shouts of “Auntie Beth! Auntie Beth!” as I arrive. I had recently been given some art and craft supplies from a visiting team, including a large bag of multicolor beads. So I pulled out some string, set bowls of beads on each desk, and told the kids (via translation) that today we would be making necklaces.
The response was extreme excitement, and there was loud chattering in Luganda as I distributed the materials. When the kids had gotten started, I retreated to the class teacher and asked what they had been saying.
She smiled. “They have said, ‘Auntie has made a miracle!'”
While there’s probably a bit (lots?) of theological error in that, I so enjoy seeing the joyfulness of their response to a seemingly simple activity. Every time I am with those kids, I catch another glimpse of Jesus’ heart in calling us to become “like little children.” How simple, and yet beautifully profound.
This week, I am thankful for miracle beads. Miracle beads, and eighteen kids in bright-colored necklaces.
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” Matthew 18:2-4