I was on my way back to the YWAM compound after my office work. I was on a bike -- "boda-boda"ing -- side-saddling on the back seat, my backpack on my lap. My "driver", David, was on a main road and there were piles of homeless sitting on the roadside with lots and lots of fruits and vegetables to sell.
Suddenly, I had a great idea. A lady had a bunch of oranges... over there they are rarely orange, but are green. I told David to stop and that I wanted 10 of them and I wanted him to do the bargaining. She saw me, of course, and kept the price up a bit. It came to 1,000// shillings. The equivalent of about 50 cents. So I agreed and gave her the money.
I had David put my back pack on his chest, so I could hold the bag. I stayed near a camp of refugees and always rode [or walked] through it on a path towards YWAM.
When we reached the path, the fun began. I took an orange out and tossed it towards a group of men. One jumped and grabbed it and laughed. I tossed another, and another and another towards the folks who were gathered and hanging out together in different places; all of them exploding in joy.
By the time I was down to one orange, I made my own heart laugh and sing. You see, the moms with their new babies sat under small trees. I had David stop the bike and I hopped off to take the last orange to this mom who, while breast feeding, certainly couldn't jump into the fun and playful mix. When I walked over and gave it to her, she grinned from ear to ear. So grateful.
Coming and going downtown, they had seen me nearly every day for a few weeks. We waved at each other; we smiled. Shortly after the "orange" event, the news came that they were planning to leave soon and head back to their villages with the hope that the rebels were gone and they could start to rebuild and replant. And, the last small stretch that I was there, nearly everyone was gone, the camp almost vacant.
Remembering our playtime, in my Soroti memory-filled brain, I can't help but smile, even today, years later.
Before going to Soroti, from another part of Uganda, a missionary who had been in exactly this location for a few months ... downtown and YWAM... told me to not get involved with the people in the camps. It would be too heartbreaking to see what they were facing day-by-day. I didn't necessarily think her reasoning wasn't "reasonable", but I didn't think I could pull that off... I'm too curious, if nothing else. Interviewing the abducted kids, seeing the homeless, hearing doctors were being forced, over and over, to amputate legs or arms -- I DID cry, often, and was filled with sorrow.
On the other hand... in that few minutes when I tossed oranges and they jumped for joy ... how could I have ever felt remorseful for being a friend?