True Value

Last night, my dream job announced a 6-week story telling series called, Story-A-Week.

The event kicks off with a beautifully done documentary short by the very talented Brenda Phillips.

It is so, so good. I just had to be sure you saw it too.

Watch the video for a little heart swelling inspiration this morning.

Wow. Right?

This all reminds me of how much I loved visiting Nyaka myself. The singing in the beginning of the video is a woman named Priscilla. She prepared all of my meals and laughed at me when I asked her for soap so that I could hand wash my knickers.

She didn’t believe a muzungu would even know how. :)

So many memories.

Please “like” the Nyaka AIDS Foundation on Facebook to hear stories that will keep your hopes high during what can be a stressful holiday season.

I love gentle reminders of what is most important. While the whole world seems to be crying out holiday sales, Black Friday and price cuts, I want to focus on compassion, hope and faith.

Let’s not forget where true value lies.



Love Letters

I leave in 6 days.

I will cross an entire ocean in a plane.  I will visit two continents before I come home.  My children will not be in either of them.

So, yes.

I am experiencing a bit of anxiety.  In fact, more than I thought.

My husband will cook for them.  He will prepare healthy meals.  Some of those meals will even include organic produce.  Their laundry will be washed and folded by him or Bobby and Adrienne (our part-time nannies).

They will receive handwritten notes from me, published blog posts and a visit from a few of my friends.  I will call them from a very remote area.

*deep breath*

Many of my friends say that they will be fine and I agree.  They will be fine.

I am the one who is a basket case.

Do you know what I have been telling myself?  Do you know the Xanax to my maternal panic attacks?

2.4 million orphans in the country of Uganda due to HIV/AIDS.  So many mothers and fathers gone.

I have the gift and the opportunity to leave love notes. I imagine, that so many would have loved to have been able to plan better for their deaths.  No parent hopes for a death that will impoverish their entire family and leave children hungry.  We hope with bated breath that our babies will live long, full and successful existences.  We hope that we will die first after preparing them for life.

When life smashes the glass, we do our best to deal with the circumstances we have been dealt. Dealing can leave so much to be desired, even when parents are at their very best.

I keep thinking that I am a love letter.

And who wouldn't love this face?

I keep thinking that if my children were left with no one, I would want a loving stranger to step in.  I would want an organization like Nyaka to work hard to serve them.  I would want teachers to be thought of as family.  I would want donors to see value in lives that have no connection to their own.

The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project is a love letter.

It is lives smashed like glass and dealing at its very best.  It is wear empty meets full.

I hate leaving my own children.  I question getting a job regularly.  Even this job.  I wonder if it is worth it.  If the little bit I do on a daily basis is enough for the school presentations I miss or the spring break I won’t be a part of this year.

Then I think about how I tell my children…

I loved you before I knew you.

I think about all of the notes on their bathroom mirrors, secretly tucked in uniform pants pockets and written on windows.

I am a blessed woman and I will take a different kind of love note with me this time.

Three Dollars

Today I visited a middle school.

My goal: to support a Dentist as he shared his experience volunteering at the Mummy Drayton School Clinic.

I sat across the room and watched large groups of students get herded into the library with their teachers. I watched them fidget, whisper and giggle throughout the presentation. I watched their eyes widen in surprise to see the most devastating facts appear on the PowerPoint.

I offered free bracelets to all if they signed up for more information. They hurried over for the modest swag. I smiled, encouraged and laughed at the various questions about Ugandan wildlife.  I then watched them rush off to lunch or their next class.

I believe in planting seeds. I know that many of these students will not find their calling in Nyaka. The promise is not in the cause, it is in the perspective. We either teach compassion or apathy. There’s not much of value in the middle.

As I wandered around answering questions, I noticed a young man shopping the merchandise table. He picked up a few things, held them and then put them down. After some thought, he came over and asked me a question.

I am not going to buy anything but can I give you all of my money?

I looked down at the folded up money in my hand with happy surprise. I offered him more info for signing up. I felt that he must get something for such a lovely gesture. He kindly declined and I said thank you.

As he walked away, I unfolded the money and counted it.

It was three dollars.

Three dollars given with nothing expected in return. Three single dollar bills resting in the palm of my hand.  In Uganda, those three dollars will go a long way.

Three dollars from an American student to help care for AIDS orphans in rural southwest Uganda. I know that at least one seed was planted today.

Scratch that.

It was probably planted long ago and I just got to see a tiny, healthy bit of growth. Can you imagine what a garden of seeds like that one would look like?



That moment made my day.