I haven’t seen one mosquito since arriving in Uganda the other night. It’s the dry season. It’s hot. Not Texas hot, and definitely not Arizona hot, those are two extremes this equator zone country hasn’t experienced. But it’s hot enough to run midday for shade and thank God you are a girl so there’s air circulating under a loose skirt. It’s also good to work in a country that doesn’t care how much upper body skin is exposed, not that I am exposed, just that a tank top isn’t vulgar.
It’s good to be home again. It’s great to start a fresh new year with Kirabo Seeds. I choke on a hard knot when I see how grown the children are becoming. Especially Rhonah who joined us one year ago, she’s our miracle child. She was three in a one year old body and now she’s every bit the young lady who will soon be four. She and Kira are proclaimed sisters, inseparable and silly engaged in girlie play. Rhonah is a confidant, talkative, sassy little sweetheart.
Kira talks all day long about the two colors of ice cream she uses to describe skin tone, chocolate and vanilla. They say mzungu, she says vanilla. Same thing to her. They say black and she scrunches up her nose and nearly stomps a foot to say “chocolate”. And she’s right, chocolate is more accurate and she uses her new puppy Fonzarelli as proof. (chocolate English lab) The race riots of America don’t translate here. No one understands the gunpowder hidden in the words black and white. It’s a relief. The subject offers no tension anchored in hate. It’s easy to breathe.
The children buzz in harmony as they move through chores laughing and chatting in their strange mangled “lugenglish”. Smiles flash, limbs swing and feet race. They are happy, confident and secure. All of them give positive reports of their holidays spent at home with relatives and friends. At the same time they were happy to return to our home at Kirabo Seeds. The staff seems fresh and amiable, energetic and engaged. Indeed it is a fresh start and we’ll pass on the bumps we took last year and seek open wide road this year. We are ready!
I need some positive action like I need oxygen. I realized when reading the bible one morning after New Year’s that I felt as if I’ve been to my own personal war for the first two years of KS. And the second two years were spent getting by feeling the post traumatic stress disorder. And now, gratefully, I see I am coming back. I feel the quickening of my old self, the energy, desire, passion, enthusiasm returning. I listed all the obstacles and disappointments we faced on paper last night and when I finished the list I was sobbing. I feel as though God hauled me out of the dark pit of depression and I lie gasping for air on the rim as one awakening from a heavy, realistic dream. I find perspective, feel alive and then realize for the first time how far in the pit I went.
I hate that pit. Kira would correct me for using that word if she could read. Hate is a bad word if you are talking about people, but when talking about depression I choose it every time. I was first depressed as a teenager and when I got out of that pit I vowed to figure out how to never get in there again. After one pregnancy I slipped in again but not too far and not too long. This one was deep dark and scary. I’m a veteran now. I know the things I must do to stay out of that hole. The first one is to call it what it is, depression, and then feel no shame.
This time I feel valiant like a survivor. I find confidence from practicing courage to hope for this feeling of freedom form the sucking energy of the black hole. And I consider risking going in the pit to help the children here as a worthy cause to face my greatest fear. (the bottom of the pit of depression)
The good news is: I feel like writing again. The bad news is: I don’t trust my filter. Case in point: I just told the world a dark secret: I was depressed. I do believe hand in hand with God, little by little, I’ll find my way back. Don’t pity me. Celebrate with me. One last word about depression: In the dark, at the bottom it is good to KNOW it’s just me and Jesus and that’s all I need. I will remember there’s nothing to fear with Him.
The children asked me in devotion last night: If you forgive someone isn’t it the right thing to allow them to come back to work with you? Such a great question! This question came after a long session convincing them revenge belongs to God alone. Our job is to forgive and continue on the journey he has planned for us, remain in his will according to the bible.
So I checked myself. Have I forgiven my enemies? Deep breath. Think. Feel. Answer: Yes.
Now does that mean I call them up and offer them a job? No and that’s because God gives us wisdom. Forgiveness is for the freedom in our heart to experience how much God forgives us and to enjoy the benefits of the Christian life among suffering. It is to identify with Jesus. He was sinless yet he took on the sins of the world and suffered separation from his father. He was beaten and cursed and forced to drag his own cross yet he forgave. I have never suffered that much. No one ever will.
But when it came time for Jesus to ask someone to take care of his mother after he was gone did he give that job to those who cursed him? No. He asked John a trusted friend.
Just because I forgive those who stole and cheated doesn’t mean they won’t do it again. What a fool I would be when it happened twice and people say, “didn’t you learn the first time?” Actually, yes I did learn the first time. And when God says he’ll give you wisdom if you ask for is, believe me, He does.
Forgiveness doesn’t erase consequences. But it does replace the bitterness in the heart with peace and that’s priceless.