My trip to Africa isn't ever buried very deeply in my thoughts. It's always right there, like a persistent friend--the kind that pushes you to better, even when you don't want to be. In the middle of a run to soccer practice, or a trip to a grocery store, or during Sunday morning communion. It's just right there.
On our first full day in Uganda, we visited Deliverance Church, a church that runs a Compassion project in the heart of Kampala's slums. I saw poverty that I had already known existed all over the world. But I saw it, and I touched it, and I smelled it. I sat in the room with it. I prayed over it. And it rattled me to my core.
Before we left that day, the pastor's wife placed an orange-and-white beaded bracelet in my hand. It was made by the children at that project, to sell in the market. I slipped it into my pocket.
My fingers played with the tiny beads on the plane ride home. My mind was racing with a dozen different conflicting emotions. Part of my heart, the part that needs for things to fit neatly together, wanted to forget the heartache I'd seen. But the part of my heart that needs justice and hope wanted desperately to remember. And so I put the bracelet on my wrist.
Four months later, I still haven't taken it off.
It's an overly sentimental gesture on my part, I know. Wearing this bracelet doesn't wipe out poverty in Uganda, or bring back Dissan's parents, or heal the babies dying from AIDS. But I wear it anyway.
It's a tangible reminder, to my own conflicted heart, of intangible truths about suffering and hope and mercy and courage. I look at it at least once a day, wrapped around my wrist next to my pretty watch, on the same hand with my diamond wedding band. I see it when I hold the steering wheel of my nice car and type on my new laptop in my air-conditioned, roomy home.
And sometimes I shudder with the injustice of it. I'd be lying if I told you that I'd yet--even now, months later--reconciled it in my heart and head. I still don't get it.
But I'll wear that bracelet--I'll wear it until it falls off. It will remind me to tell my children what I saw, to invest in my sponsor kids as long as they need me. It reminds me to live a life of gratitude for the unmerited blessings in my life. It will remind me to trust in a God who does know how all these strange pieces fit together. It will help me remember.
I'll do this because remembering these children honors them. It isn't everything, but it's something.
And I have to do something.
You can do something too. Have you been thinking about sponsoring a child? This would be a good day for it.