If I could put another photo on this, I most certainly would. It would probably show me jumping up and down hysterically. It's another one of those "only God" stories.
In early December, we were meeting one of our friends, Fr. Albert, for dinner in Kampala. I was in town before Dave and Fr. A. arrived and was in the Sheraton Hotel hanging out and waiting for them. A Ugandan was playing Christmas carols on an old piano in the very hot, sunny registration/reception center -- definitely didn't feel like our normal Christmas.
A man was sitting on a couch, and, less than bright on my side, I assumed that, because he had my skin color he spoke my usual English. So, being me, my yammery personality, I made a comment about the heat and songs.
Well, I was WRONG! He was Italian, could speak French, and indicated with that "so-so" hand motion, he could do some English. I said I could speak French. However, after we tried to communicate, he said my French wasn't good enough, so we'd have to try to make it in his English. Worked OK. We did talk for about half an hour. He said he was a cotton import/exporter and had been purchasing cotton from around Jinja, 60 miles away. He was waiting for a taxi to take him to the airport, and it was running late. In that next stretch, he asked what Dave and I did, and when I talked about being at the orphanage, he was very touched. He said he didn't believe in God and he was mad at church, but his wife would truly want to see that orphanage when they came together to Uganda the following month. Before he left we exchanged phone and fax numbers.
In early January, I went to the hotel and met Paolo in the lounge. He told me his wife couldn’t come because she'd had a ski accident in the Alps [they lived in Milan], and that he wouldn't take the time to go to the orphanage.
Then he handed me an envelope, and said, "This is for you. It is small... oh, so small ... only a thousand dollars." And he flapped his hand around to say “oh, it’s nothing”.
My brain exploded.. " A thousand American dollars, Ugandan shillings, Italian lira? ...Was he confused?" I started to open the envelope, and he stopped me and said that I could see it later, that first we should talk. A few minutes afterward, he asked me to come to the hotel for lunch the next day and to bring Dave so he could meet my husband. [Dave was at the orphanage and would be coming into Kampala the next morning.]
When I left, walking across the hotel garden towards the street, I opened the envelope. I was absolutely stunned.
There were TEN ... BRAND NEW ... PURE GREEN ...
ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS!
Walking through downtown Kampala, the money buried in my backpack, I carried it across my chest with my arms crossed over it. No thief could slice the straps and slide it away from me. Uh, UH!!
The following day we did meet at the hotel for lunch with him and his co-management men from Italy. He bought so much food – and a LOT of wine – and fed us anything and everything we could imagine. His goal was to pour blessing on us, because we helped the children. When we were leaving, he had his men drive us to the taxi park so we could head for the orphanage. That was the last time to see or hear from him.
That $1000, plus what we sold, provided exactly what we needed. If the Lord had not dropped Paolo into our lives, I have no idea how the move would have gone forward without high levels of stress.
When thinking of this, for all these years, knowing how blunt Paolo was in his dislike of God, I have hoped that, through God using Paolo to generously bless us so amazingly, God has been welcomed into HIS life.
I truly hope to see Paolo in heaven.