Jack and I went to Las Vegas for the singular purpose of watching the FEI Dressage World Cup. Eighteen of the world’s top dressage riders and horses competed in Vegas and we sat in awe of the beauty and talent. My friend, Erica, joined us from Arizona to see it. Seeing her in Vegas was like getting a rain shower in the desert. She was a big happy unexpected and rare gift. It’s fun that we’ve both become horse girls since we first became friends. Let me say, however, that the last place on earth where I want to be is in Vegas. It would be the same as sending me in to clean the pit latrine. The human hopelessness and self-indulgence there mystifies my sense of balance.
I woke up on the third morning, the last and best day of the competition and all I could think was, “Thank God I get on a plane before it gets dark today”. We enjoyed the event where dressage horses literally danced intricate choreography to music. It was delightful. As soon as it finished Doug and Erica dropped us off at the airport. We had a nonstop flight home to Texas.
The Southwest flight wasn’t full and Jack and I were in the front of the plane. So I took the aisle and he took the window. I figured no one would sit between us hoping they could find more space in the back. I settled in with my knitting in my hands and an audible book in my ear. I was perfectly relaxed and relieved to be going home…until a bumbling drunk squished himself between Jack and I. Before I registered his face he had his hands all over my knitting and he was talking in repetitive circles to us, even though both of us had our earplugs deep and firm in the canals. He told Jack again and again that he had to do the right thing and figure out how to make money while he sleeps then he’ll be alright in this life.
What should I expect on a plane home from Vegas? He was a friendly slosh. I learned he was a vet from Iraq and served in the air force. His opinions about politics were as strong as my opinions about religion. He is a beer maker, and admittedly, a habitual drunk driver, who happens to live very close to where our horses are stabled. I am Mama Tonya after all and I couldn’t let this opportunity to mother him pass me by. I nodded to the prompt from God, sighed, and conceded to put away my ear plugs and knitting to share a little of God’s light into his dark corner.
It turns out he has all the beliefs of a Christian, but can’t be bothered to practice anything he knows. I was kind yet firm when I shared with him how our cousin’s daughter died while driving under the influence in her neighborhood. My own uncle recently died driving. My good friend from Fort Worth lost her precious eighteen year old son to a drunk driver while he tried to get home from work. I am a “Mother Against Drunk Driving” without being a member of the organization, but I also am one who knows every person on earth needs to be loved and forgiven. I just wanted him to admit it was wrong to drive after he’s been drinking his own brew all day. He admitted, “I’m usually hung over and drunk all at once most of the time.” He said, “ I am basically a sad person.” But he wouldn’t agree to give up driving drunk.
I didn’t judge him. I was kind. I listened. I didn’t preach. I did point at my son and say, “you keep driving drunk and you’ll kill a kid like that one day. Do you want to live with that?” He denied it was possible. His denial infuriated me. We are all victims on the road to the denials of drunk drivers.
I shared my own testimony of what God has done with my life. I shared the truth from the bible of God’s love and how we are never alone. I promised he has never gone too far to be forgiven. He lowered his head and said I know but I can’t change. But he has hopes and dreams. He has applied to be a fire fighter. If he could turn himself around and work hard he could be eligible to do meaningful work with his life. Thirty years old seems too young to have given up completely.
This is why we are putting so much effort into the children at Kirabo Seeds. We can teach them there are no limits in their potential. We can show them day by day ways that God’s word is true, and his love is real. We can bumper them away from harmful decisions and guide them towards what is good and right. We can prevent such hopelessness as the beer making drunk driving sad vet.
At Kirabo Seeds we help children who have no parents and we parent them in the way they should go. They need us and we need the meaningful work to do for God. We can alter their course away from extreme poverty, crime, addiction, corruption, prison, prostitution, and a destitute way of life. I will tell you honestly all of these kids were little thieves and liars before they joined our home. They did what they had to do to survive. They did what they could get away with doing.
All of us who have prayed for these children at Kirabo Seeds have made a difference in their lives so they don’t fall into the darkness. All who have sacrificed financially to help them receive good care, nutrition, shelter, and an education have made a tremendous impact in their lives. These kids know they are loved, protected, and valued in this world. And I believe they will take the security of this love and pass it down to their children, who will pass it to their children. The generations to come after them will multiply with God’s love, protection, salvation and truth.
I wonder how my inebriated airplane neighbor, who has so much opportunity, ability, intellect, family support and knowledge of Jesus gives up so completely on himself. I know a hundred hard working Ugandans who would grasp half his opportunity and make an incredible life out of it. I can only hope he will remember my firm words shaken together with love. I hope he will take the first step of change. I hope the children at Kirabo Seeds will never find themselves so alone in this world. I hope I have more opportunities to put my knitting down, take out the ear plugs and share a little love with a stranger. And I’ll continue to pray this prayer for all the people who come into my care and reach:
“…I kneel before the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph. 3:14-19