As this trip is coming to a close I cannot believe all of the amazing experiences I’ve had. There have been countless moments that are so good, they almost hurt because I know that they have to end and the memory or retelling of them will never be as meaningful. These are the moments that I wish I could seal in a jar and save to live again, and again, and again. This may be a depressing way to look at happiness, but if we always avoided good things because of their inevitable end, we wouldn’t have much of a life. It seems to me that for every happy moment we have to hurt a little bit, but what we gain is definitely worth it.
I know that Callie’s last entry was mostly about Nick, but I just want to reinforce just how amazing it was to see him doing better. When he was first out of surgery I couldn’t see him without crying. I spent the late hours of the nights making him a card and brainstorming any possible way that we could make him a little happier. After seeing him on Wednesday I slept like a rock. I really can’t express what an amazing kid he is or just how much a tiny smile from him means to everyone who loves him.
Another one of my moments was watching Charles watch Peter Pan. Charles is another one of the kids who has been really down and is so hard to please. One day after Sally Test had closed, we saw him hanging around outside the center’s door. We had to grab a few things inside so we told him to come in with us so we could talk. He doesn’t speak much English so I had Michael translate for us. I asked him question after question trying to find just one thing that he enjoyed. Finally we discovered that Charles likes to watch movies. So, for our last week at Sally Test we set up a couple movie watching sessions for Charles. After the Sally Test day was over, we had Charles and any other kid who was staying in the nearby wards stick around to watch Peter Pan. Normally, I really enjoy watching this movie. However this time I couldn’t take my eyes off of Charles’s face. He laughed at the dog wearing a maid’s hat and when Shmeed mistakenly shaved the backside of a bird instead of Captain Hook’s face. The children all murmured “Eh! Eh!” when the pirates shot at the lost boys, the crocodile chased Hook, and the beautiful mermaids splashed in the water.
Today we arrived at Chuilambo Secondary School for the first day of the Annual Event. The event is put on to celebrate another successful school year, to bring the Umoja family together, and. Most importantly, have fun. I am really excited to be back largely because I get to spend more time with Winnie! I was so excited to see her and realize that even after a month apart, nothing has changed. The day was filled with great speeches and wonderful performances that ranged from dancing to imitations of President Obama. Of course everyone believed that the highlight of the day was Mama Ellen’s closing speech. One of the head teachers announced that “it was to bring tears of joy to the students’ eyes.” She talked about family and how all of us have strong bonds with people we may never get the chance to meet. This made me think about the crazy twist of fate that has let us love people half way around the world and have brothers, sisters, and parents who don’t even speak the same language as us. At the end of the speech Winnie turned to me and said, “Yes, I guess you look like a sister to me.”
After saying good bye to all the people to whom I’ve become so close, I’ve been looking back over my trip and I am so, so thankful. I’m thankful for sunsets over Lake Victoria, "The Sound of Music," colorful hippos, mother and son photo shoots, singing songs in a different language, the smell of rain, birthday cards, delicious malts with funky flavors, pots of tissue paper flowers, long-distance phone calls, roasted corn, butterfly kisses, waving hands, Thanksgiving food babies, sleeping soundly, Peter Pan, and family members who look nothing alike. For me, there couldn’t be a more appropriate place to celebrate this holiday. I’ve never felt so thankful in my life; not so much because of what I have in comparison to the people I’ve met, but because of what I’ve had with them.