We took Wednesday off from work last week to celebrate our nation’s birthday, and my own. Thanks for all the birthday wishes from home and to my team mates for making the day so awesome! We stuffed ourselves silly with french toast (“freedom toast”), pizza, burgers, and s’mores, decked every inch of our bodies in red, white, and blue, danced to a lot of Bruce Springsteen, watched Independence Day, had a badminton tournament, and my personal favorite, sang the national anthem super loud for everyone in our neighborhood to hear so they would have one more reason to think Munos are crazy. Apart from being the one who had to call my friends and family on my birthday and the lack of fireworks, it really wasn’t all that different from most 4th of Julys. It was a day of home away from home.
Last week Megan and I started writing an art therapy activity manual for Child Voice so they can continue implementing it at the center if they wish and for our activity at various places we made masks where one side was to represent your inner self and the other side what you show the world. I think we, as humans, are all mask-wearers. What is ironic is that most people have an easier time talking about their inner self than the self that they show the world on a daily basis (not that the two are always entirely different). I had a heart ache seeing that so many kids are really hurting on the inside despite their jubilant behavior around us. I obviously expected this, but I hate knowing that they don’t have the resources most of us are fortunate to have. There is no school guidance counselor or therapy clinic. I read in the newspaper that there are only 13 psychiatrists in all of Uganda. Most of these kids don’t even have a set of parents to talk to let alone a trained professional.
But my mantra is this: One. One. One. One. If just one activity in one hour on one day helps one kid, it has to be worth it. And this helps calm my anxious feelings. I like this little mantra of mine because it’s easy and simple, but “one” is a spiritual word, too. One is what God is in all His unity and wholeness. I try to be optimistic because I also don’t know, and will probably never know is what is happening inside. A lot of therapy and healing is invisible. For a while, at least. I think this invisibility is spiritual, too. When I hear, read, or see something profound; something that grabs my attention, there is often a shift that happens and God does something in me that no one else sees in that moment (unless my immediate reaction is to start crying, which If I’m honest with myself, isn’t entirely unlikely).
The highlight of the week was at Simprosa’s when sweet, brave, Judith told Megan and I that she was so grateful that we were there because the therapy has really helped her deal with her emotions and see that God is a God of restoration. It was such sweet relief to hear those words. To hear that what we’re doing is working. But I couldn’t let myself soak in that too long because it wasn’t me that was working. It was church. It was community. It was Emmanuel with us. Maybe that is like saying church or religion is therapy, but I would dare to say it is therapy, among many other things. I read in the book Still this week, “The real problem lies not in recognizing the therapeutic balm in the gospel; the real problem is going through life thinking that the health you need can be found elsewhere.” Amen.
This week will be a shorter one as we head for Kampala before the sun comes up Friday morning. We will be going on a safari and seeing some waterfalls!!! We’re not the least bit antsy for this at all. And after that fun is done we will be taking Brad, who is leaving us Monday, to the airport. Two weeks from that day we head to Kampala again to prepare for our own departure. This African adventure is winding down, folks. Thank you again to everyone who has supported us. We are SO grateful to get to use our gifts and passions here in Uganda and will promise to make the most of these next few weeks.