It’s late afternoon in Jinja, Uganda. It’s been a long day with merciless heat. It’s the kind of heat that pulls water from your skin and leaves you tired for seemingly no reason.
The sun is warm on Mama Topka’s face. She stares off at the horizon, but her eyes are seeing something else. Her lips curl up in a strange little smile. No one knows what she is seeing, or what has made her smile. It’s as if she lives in a world of her own making.
The clock keeps on ticking. Over the course of the past year we have spent another 525,600 minutes of life’s currency. Everything we have said and done over the past year is recorded and documented. It’s written down. It is part of the irretrievable past. So, was it good? Did we spend our currency well?
The elderly man made his way to the front of the church building, pushing his walker in front of him. He sat in his usual place. He pulled his Bible from the basket on his walker and settled in as the worship service began with a prayer. He followed along in his head, adding his own bits and pieces here and there, thanking God for all of his blessings. He wasn't a rich man by any means. He had gotten along alright though, blessed with a good job for many years.
September 25th was my daughter’s birthday. To celebrate, we took a break from work and met her at a local restaurant close to her home and our office.
Cold, black numbers. Lines on a chart. Fractions and percentages. This out of that. We humans use statistics for many things. We use them to prove a point. To disprove a point. To justify action or inaction. Evil men in history have used them to justify attempted genocide on entire races of people.
A piece of chalk, a bit of thread, a handful of seeds, a night time prayer and a hug... it’s the little things.
I woke up at 2:30 am yesterday to catch a very early morning flight from Sioux Falls, South Dakota back to Kalispell, Montana.
I watched the sun rise at 32,000 feet. Splashes of red and pink, gold and bronze, diffused in the clouds on the horizon where the sun still lay hidden beyond the curve of our planet. It struck me at that moment how we just take for granted that the sun will rise each day as it has for so long now. We take it for granted simply because it has always been there. Since the beginning of it all. We count on it for our very survival and without it, we simply wouldn’t exist.
He calls it a “get together.” The “old students get together.” A gathering of young adults from CCIMA Children’s Home in India.
For Penke, the Director of this children’s home, it is not only a way of showing the success of the home, it is a family reunion. It is his living legacy “home” for a visit.
Gloria has a story to tell.
She sits down at a wooden desk with a couple sheets of paper and a pen. She has thoughts to convey. Feelings to express. Her mind processes the thoughts, connects with her heart and seamlessly mixes the emotions in with the facts. Neurons fire, synapses switch on and off, sending signals from the brain to the brachial complex where nerves cause muscles to expand and contract. Tendons lengthen and shorten and her hand and fingers manipulate the pen she holds. Ink flows through a small tube to a stainless-steel ball encapsulated at the end of the pen and as her hand moves from left to right, the first words appear on the paper as if by magic. The once-empty space, now extends a greeting. “Dear Sponsor…”
Sargent Malloy was quite shocked to see an email from the Governor’s Office on a Sunday! He was even more shocked to see that it was from the Governor himself rather than from an assistant as would be the norm.
Sargent Malloy wrapped the blanket tighter around the old man’s body and breathed a sigh of relief as the screaming sirens told him Emergency Medical was almost there. He glanced over at the shivering teenage girl sitting on the rocky bank of the river. She too was wrapped in a brown, wool blanket and aside from a large bump on her forehead, seemed to be doing just fine.
Perhaps I had heard it before. If I had, I didn’t remember. I suppose there are things like that all throughout our lives that just aren’t timed right to have a significant enough impact to lodge in the long-term memory part of our brain.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s find out.
It’s a beautiful day on a golden beach. The sun is warm, but waning, and the crowds have thinned as sunburns and hunger slowly, but surely pick off the beach-goers one by one.
In the corner of a shared office here at Orphan’s Lifeline, sits an unattended file cabinet; unattended, but not forgotten, and never completely absent from the part of my brain that harbors feelings of regret. Perhaps it’s not as much regret, but rather that sad feeling you get when you read about someone passing that you didn’t really know.
They will remember.
They will remember it all. The loss. The loneliness. The hunger and the heartbreak. The soul-wrenching pain of abandonment.
Miria slows as she nears the rear of the shiny, black car and then she veers to the right to walk around it, wondering who might be inside the dark, tinted windows. As she walks by, she hears a whining sound and turns to see the passenger window open. She stops and peers inside from where she stands and sees a handsome young man smiling back at her. She smiles nervously in response, wondering what this is all about. That’s when he speaks in a friendly voice.
The shiny, black sedan idles slowly through the Bwaise slums. Isaac Mugulu sits behind the wheel, his eyes scanning up and down each street he comes to from behind dark glasses. Several ragged blocks in the slums have yielded no potential targets for the young human trafficker and he is beginning to think that he has gotten out of bed early for no reason. To this point he has seen nothing but adults. Some starting chores in and around their humble shacks. Others shuffling along to points unknown in search of ways to supply their families with food for the day. It’s a hard life that Isaac knows all too well and he is thankful that is no longer true for himself. He might not be rich by world standards, but by Bwaise standards, he is wealthy indeed as attested to by the stares his car receives by those he passes by.
Miria is already awake when the sun peeks over the eastern horizon and all that has been hidden in the cloak of darkness begins to take shape. Her eyes are open and staring at the now empty corner where she was sure others had slept the night before. They must have crept out quietly while darkness still ruled. Or perhaps there hadn’t been anyone there at all. Just her imagination.