What does a heart breaking sound like? What about the sounds of a spirit so overwhelmed with awe that it seems to be rushing like a waterfall? I wonder. I wonder these things. I also wonder to what detail I should share these stories. How much is too much for others to hear or read? I figure if these children have experienced it, how can we not listen? Cry with them. Hold
their hand. Pray with them. Sometimes I think I have heard the pain so vividly that I am desensitized to it – but not really. Not at all.
Sitting down for the first time to blog since Jan 1 of this trip. Not sure where to begin. I have a chain around my heart – and my arm : ) As I write, I look down at my right wrist. I can’t stop looking at it. It was given to me by the most broken and bravest boy I know. He was abducted by the LRA around the age of nine. He was forced by the soldiers of Joseph Kony to kill his parents after he was abducted. It does not stop there. He was forced to hack them into pieces. It does not stop there…… but for the sake of mindfulness, I will stop there.
He rarely smiles. He is often found off from the group of other orphans. He is tall, and he is strong. He is the most broken, yet the bravest boy I know. He speaks little English, and he rarely looks you in the eye. But he gave me the greatest gift I have ever been given, and he cried when I washed his feet. I cried too.
Britt, Amanda, Jake, and I spent three nights with the children of Village of Hope Uganda – and what seemed to be 10 days. Most of these children were formerly abducted – having either watched their parents be killed or forced to kill their parents. We prayed with them, sang with them, and cried with them. The heaviest day was when we did the workshop program with them. We gave them all handkerchiefs. I told them that handkerchiefs catch our tears – just like God catches our tears in his bottle. We have happy tears. We have sad tears. But on these handkerchiefs, we were going to draw. And draw they did. They drew their Heartache on one and their Hope on another.
But this brave boy that I have grown to love not only drew, but he and his brother were brave enough to share their stories with the group. They shared and they cried. They cried so much that the stories drawn on their handkerchiefs with marker, blended with their tears and became, in many ways, a rainbow of pain and hope and healing on cloth. Beautiful and tragic and intensely healing, I think.
So, about the chain:
After the day ended, I was walking back to the hut and felt something on my arm. I turned to my right to see the most broken and the bravest boy I know placing something around my wrist. In a flash it was there. Almost as if he didn’t put it on there at all. He then started walking beside me. I smiled and he smiled and I grabbed his hand. What did he put on my arm?
A chain. A thick chain link to be exact. A silver chain link that fits perfectly on my wrist. A silver chain link that has no beginning and has no end and has no clasp at all. I keep looking at it trying to find an opening. How did he get it on my wrist so quickly? My question is this: How did he get it on my wrist at all? But it is. On my wrist. Somehow, miraculously on my wrist. No beginning. No End. With no way to really get it off except to cut it off. Not that I was planning on taking it off. At least not in this lifetime…
Our time with the children from our partnering orphanage, Village of Hope Uganda, was pretty much amazing. There are around 400 children that Village of Hope works with in displacement camps throughout Gulu. Almost all of the children are formerly abducted or former child soldiers. Many have either been forced to kill their parents or forced to watch. Why? Why abduct children? Why does the LRA use such horrific tactics? Having them kill their parents is mild compared to the details that follow. But the question remains…..why? The answer: The topic for another blog.
Our time with the children was on the land where their new home will be. Cindy Cunningham and her team are building four new homes to transfer the children from the displacement camps to a self-sustaining “village” about an hour outside of Gulu. She wanted them to be far away from the memories. As far as they could be. The financial support we give them by selling the beads the children make helps with psychosocial rehabilitation, dance therapy, music therapy, bible study, as well as in meeting their basic needs of food, water, and education. One of their homes is being built completely by the funds from the profits of the beads. You can buy a necklace here: https://exileinternational.org/beaded_jewelry.html
They are beautiful. Just like the children who make them : )