Today I turned 20. Today I also received a pineapple as a birthday present. What more could a girl ask for?
The past few days have been bittersweet.
The goodbyes were difficult, to say the least. Heartbreaking is more like it. All I could do to keep myself together was continue to remind myself that I will be coming back one day. I don’t know when that will be, but I’m praying that it is soon. I could go on and on about the overwhelming amount of emotions that I dealt with until it was to the point where I kind of just felt numb, but I’ll spare you guys from that and move on to the good things God is doing right now.
First of all, God kept us laughing in the midst of our tears and even in the toughest moments. A special thanks to Pastor Danny for that one. That guy has a gift. There is never a dull moment with him. He can honestly make you laugh in any circumstance. Praise God for that. We also got to share one last meal with Stephen. Thank goodness because he was one of the hardest people to say goodbye to. By the way, this meal was at a Japanese restaurant in Kampala. Best Japanese food ever and it was in Africa.
After a treacherous 10 hour bus ride we had a short time back in Kigali to rest and transition. This was a blessing because God used this short time to change my heart and prepare me for this new practicum site.
We are now working at a place called Center for Champions. It is a school/center for street children who never had the chance to receive an education. Some of these students are orphans, some were too poor to afford school fees and others faced circumstances that put them on the street. All of them have suffered. It is a really great place that is doing great work.
We spend a lot of our time just hanging out with the students and getting to know them. We spend hours on the football field and the basketball court. This has been therapeutic. We are working on some projects as well. We have been organizing their library so that they can begin to allow students to check out books. These kids are so eager to learn. As a teacher that is a beautiful thing. We also helped them write Christmas cards to their sponsor families. It is weird to be on the other side of those cards. I’m used to seeing a picture child’s face on a postcard with a short description. Now I have the chance to actually get to know the person behind that picture. It definitely makes those child sponsorship programs seem much more real and not just somewhere you send a check to. For anyone who sponsors a child, know that you are making a great difference in not only that child’s life, but also the lives of entire communities of people.
After only two days at the Center for Champions I know that God is going to bless our time here. Although I miss Hoima and the people there so much, I know that God has work for me here. When I’m working with kids who have endured so much pain and are still joyful, how could I be bitter?
This life is so unpredictable. It’s like being on a constant emotional roller coaster. But, I’m glad for that. I am glad that God somehow gives us overwhelming joy even in times of sorrow. He’s just keeping us on our toes, I guess.
So that’s that. My birthday was a good one. I got to hang out with the students all day. I got a couple origami flowers for gifts. My friends had a surprise party for me in the, wait for it…hotel lobby. We had cake. We listened to JBeibs. I’m pretty sure they used salt instead of sugar in the icing. My cake had a firework for a candle. I got to talk to Stephen (from Hoima) on the phone. It’s not everyday that you experience a birthday like that. Now I’m the big two oh. Watch out world.
P.S. Tonight my water was miraculously warm and I took a hot shower for the first time in a month. Happy birthday to me.