There have been many precious moments as I’ve been in Uganda.
With only two days until I leave for home they are beginning to replay through my mind. And a few are standing out as the very best moments.
Being my second trip to some of the same areas I’ve been re-meeting many. And while the women whom I didn’t meet on the first trip warmly greet me, those women I met before literally throw themselves into my arms.
Forget the handshake, forget any social protocol of greeting, enthusiastic arms-around-my-waist, head on my chest, hugs have been the standard of many.
And I’ll never forget the woman whom I danced with one day, and the next saw me at a distance and ran full on and into my arms in welcome.
I cannot quite describe the feelings produced in me at such unrestrained shows of affection, other than profound humility and a wondering at the impact I am bringing.
I really only get it in part.
The men too are not shy to hug and to welcome, and as they jostle for pictures and conversation we simply enjoy each others company.
And I’ll never forget the frail elderly man whose eyes begged a dance, and so hand in hand he and I dance a jig, a slow jig to be sure, but a jig nonetheless. And with beauty and joy pouring out of his eyes, loving adoration pouring over me I simply blessed him back with the honor of a dance.
It is the least I could do, and the most I could do.
At one school I visited, with the choir singing for me, a few of the boys one by one made their way to the front to express their delight with the movements of traditional Ugandan dance.
I so wish I had caught it on film. The strength and risk of men shining through these small ones as they took courage to strut-their-stuff as a gift of welcome for the visitor.
Quite simply brought me to tears, if I could have stopped right there and wept I would have.
The songs composed and made just for “our dear Cyndy” caught my heart just as strongly. And I wonder at how profoundly easy it is to bless others…
Simply get on a plane and visit some people.
But I know it is more of that. I trust the real impact is that I am bringing a touch of God with me. And more than me I trust it is God in me to which others are responding.
A few of the smallest children responded in unreserved and uncharacteristic abandon.
Most of the kids shyly yet confidently (they’ve been taught well how to greet a visitor) came forward extending their hands for a shake, greeting me with a ‘Welcome’. Others hung back, eyes wide and wondering, not quite sure about this visitor and certainly not interested in risking to touch.
And then there were a few set apart, whose actions caught my breath in my chest.
One little boy seeing I was near as I sat on a neighboring bench, all of a sudden came as a bee-line to my side and pressed in against my leg.
He couldn’t get close enough.
I wrapped my free arm around him (the other had a baby) and there he stayed for a good while, some twenty minutes easily. Leaning in, drawing something to himself, blessing me with his unreserved and abandoned company. My heart caught with the wonder of it.
And just the other day the same.
While visiting a community, listening to the song of a gentleman as he played for us, out of the corner of my eye I saw a Mom with her little girl in her arms. This little one was struggling to get down and I wondered what it was about.
I soon found out, for once she succeeded in being placed on the ground, she immediately came to me and in one fluid motion as if we had known each other since her birth and visited every day, she was on my lap.
And there she settled in. Leaning back her head on my chest, snuggling in without a care in the world.
I held her for some time, as we enjoyed the music together.
While I am blown away by the love and hugs and dances with the men and the women, these validations of the children are what catch me off guard.
Without masks and without guile they are the truest gauge in all the world. Children see what we as adults can no longer see. Their perceptions are the truest, their candor the most free.
“For such is the kingdom of heaven”
Something we can all hope to be one day.