Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Rarely did anything happen during my refugee work in Soroti that made all of us laugh.  But this one did.

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?


Unknown said...

All I can think of is..."When I was thirsty..." Well done Sister!

Anonymous said...

You have told me of this experience before, but it is so fun to read about it again.

Praying for you as you travel, share, rest and relax.

Miss you,

Anonymous said...

Good story!!! I don't remember you ever sharing it before, but it's the way we should live our lives as believers no matter where we are.....tossing oranges!
Love, Niki

Gayle said...

Wow, what a delightful day! We are busy here, I will call you when things settle down. My daughter is very close to having her baby, I think this weekend, if not for sure on Tuesday!

Beth said...

I have caught up on your blogs and enjoyed each one: the Sunday ones, the mother-in-law, your re-birthday, V-J day and your birth, the snakes (shudder),and now this one. You've packed a lot in and I've learned a lot. Each time I visit, I feel closer to you.
They all ministered to me according to what I needed.

However, this last one made me smile and nod my head. That was me in my first year of teaching when I was hired for night school at the same high school where I was a building sub during the day.
The head of the English department ran the English classes of night school. I became his assistant. I was instructed not to interact with the students. They came, they read their material, they completed the questions for that unit or tested out of it and into a new one, and they left.
They were not to talk except to ask a question. We were not to talk except to answer a question. It was serious business.
I could tell he thought himself above the kids---these were ones that he would never have during the day, because his years at the school had earned him the right to teach only the best of the best.

Well, I just couldn't do it. I smiled, I welcomed them, I complemented them, I asked questions, made comments ---you know. The kicker was the night I got into a discussion with a teen mom whose child had chicken pox. I had inquired how things were because I knew she had a child and I recognized what the dark bags under eyes signified: sleep deprivation and worry.
I listened to her and then offered up some advice from my days of dealing with two children with chicken-pox. I encouraged her and commended her on coming to school that night.
By the time we were done, his eyes were smoldering, shooting firy arrows in my direction. :>)
But she was smiling and there was a tiny glint of hope in her eyes that she could persevere and graduate while being a single teen mom.
I knew Mr. Jackson's rules, but I also knew what God wanted me to do and why I was there.
Needless to say, I didn't get a day teaching position for the next year---Mr. J was on the committee with strong influence, but I was supposed to be some place else, so of course it worked out.