It’s been a week for the books.
Highs and lows. Excitement and heartbreak. Love and pain.
I don’t think my brain has actually processed or dealt with much of what this held.
It started as a pretty “standard” week – which, in Uganda, is a very loose description. You never truly know what a day, let alone a week, will look like. As I’ve said many times before, you never know what will come your way, or how it will unfold.
We had someone staying at the guesthouse for the past month that I had met a few times state-side last year. It was nice to have someone here to not only help with the day-to-day tasks, but it was nice to have someone around who I could process things with. I could say something out loud and know that there would be no judgement coming back at me. I was so thankful – especially during this time of adjustment and times of homesickness. She left to head home on monday, but through a series of what I’m sure was God orchestrated events, she missed her flights and was stuck with me an extra four days. Let the week of the unexpected begin – on a good note.
On Tuesday, seven children arrived from Kamuli to stay at the outreach house. I, for the first time, was feeling fairly comfortable with their arrival – I had a general idea of what needed to be done, and I had things under control. I was able to assist our nurse, Teddy, and another jigger digger, Lillian, by taking notes – something I have come to love (more on that later). The day was busy and intense, but I was feeling good and things were on the right track.
Wednesday brought completed cabanas and an afternoon of working outside.
Thursday was our normal clinic day in Wakisi. I was able to sit between Teddy (our nurse) and Geoffrey (another remover) and once again take notes. This week the job involved a lot of comforting of scared kiddos. I put one girl on my lap and held her tight as Teddy started removing one small jigger from her foot – she didn’t handle it well. She screamed, pulled her foot away, and I could feel her whole body become tense. It was the first time I have ever had to restrain a child while jiggers were being removed. While it was a quick process – something just hit me in the gut. No child should ever have to experience the pain that a jigger brings, let alone be held down to have it removed. So many times, I just go into adrenaline mode and my brain doesn’t always register the situation. I do what I have to do, but I don’t necessarily think too much into it. A lot of times, this is necessary to be able to properly care for whoever you’re working with. But sometimes, you put up walls and you don’t think about the reality that so many of these kids face. Little did I know that when I uttered the phrase, “this is the first time I’ve and to retrain a kid” – something so much bigger was coming right around the corner.
Friday morning welcomed a strong cup of coffee and a much needed Jesus Calling devotional. I was the mood where anything could set me off. I could feel it brewing, and I knew that something had to give. The first paragraph of the daily devotional was:
“Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.”
Well…how fitting. The next part started with:
“Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intended to you to be.”
This slowly became less funny – as if He picked up my hand and said yet again, ‘Do you trust me?’ He hasn’t let me down in the past, but still I live in fear everyday. I need to give up my control – taking each day moment by moment.
Little did I know, in the moments of reading that, how much that would play into the events of the day.
She is pure JOY – through and through – but knowing her past, you would have no idea why.
We were connected to her by a referral from the police through some friends we met recently. Her father is in prison. Her mother’s whereabouts are unknown. So much hurt has plagued her life – yet this is her demeanour. I still don’t fully understand it, but all I can say is that she is an inspiration.
300 jiggers. Half in her hands. Half in her feet.
After several failed attempts to remove jiggers on Friday, the decision was made to take her to a nearby private hospital to have her sedated while we removed the jiggers. Each day her condition would worsen – something needed to be done. Even with several doses of meds to sedate her, she spent an hour and a half crying out while all 300 jiggers were removed. Just two days before I had made a comment about not having to restrain a child up until that point – I had no idea what was coming.
Yesterday ended in complete exhaustion, frustration, and a general lack of JOY. All it took was one look at that little girl – a giggle escaping her lips – and everything else melted away. So much in this world isn’t fair. So much corruption surrounds our every day. Yet, there is still JOY. There is JOY in the small moments. Those smiles make up for all of the hard moments that the day threw at us.
We have to choose JOY.
We need to embrace JOY.
We need to live out JOY.
This girl is doing it so much better than any of us.
She is our JOY.
It’s been a week for the books.
Highs and lows. Excitement and heartbreak. Love and pain. JOY.