I didn't really want to venture out of Alfred & Florence’s home. But, after about 15 minutes I couldn't stand it anymore and I went outside to find the crying child. I saw a small, naked child sitting in the mud outside of her mud & stick home. I knew that picking her up would either scare her to death or console her, but I took a chance. I picked her up and held her and sang trying to console her. It did not work. After about 10 minutes, and scared that I was breaking some cultural custom by doing this, I decided to put her down and to walk back to Alfred’s home. As I walked, I prayed that God would console her. She was still wailing and asking for her “Mama." I barely got back to Alfred’s home when her crying stopped. I looked out the window and there was a young boy sitting with her and Angel had her head on his shoulder. God had answered my prayer.
Later that day, when Florence’s nieces and nephews came home from school, the village children, namely those that had been left behind during the day, came over to play and eat. That little girl, and the boy who consoled her, were among them. The girl was wearing a man’s polo shirt and nothing else. It was way too big and it just hung off of her. The children were very curious about the Mzungu in the Nabudere home. The little girl sat down near me and gave me a knowing look, like a thank you for trying to help her earlier that morning. Eventually, she stretched her bare foot out so it touched my foot. As the 9 days went by, she started to come over more and more. She got braver and braver--MORE COURAGEOUS. She would walk into my hosts' home, seek me out, sit on my lap and just stare at me while I was visiting with Alfred. I learned that her name was Angel and the little boy was her brother. She was responsible for bringing numerous other children into their home to see the Mzungu. She had become my friend. I gave her a doll as a way of expressing my love to her since we could not speak to one another. The village was calling me the village babysitter.
When I arrived in Buyobo village this trip, Angel greeted me with a big hug. I asked her how she was in her village language--“Tyena," I said, and she surprised me when she replied in English, “I’m fine." She barely left my side for three days and many of the other children were friendlier than before--hugging and hanging on me. Because of their lack of fear, I was able to diagnose one child with a fever and give her hard to acquire antibiotics that I had with me. She was doing well before I left.
On my last night in the village, Alfred and his wife Florence, spent time talking and praying with me. Florence shared with me that Angel was telling everyone in the village, “Don’t be scared of my friend. She is not like the other Mzungus (white visitors). She is my friend.” It was then I realized why the village children were friendlier. Besides that they had seen me before, Angel had assured them that I was a friend. I sobbed as I listened to Alfred & Florence’s beautiful words of thanks, their words of friendship, their undeniable devotion to Christ and most specially their love for me. I went to bed still crying and asking God to comfort me, much like the prayer I had said for Angel 7 months earlier.
As Alfred and I waited on the road for a taxi (a 14-passenger van that would have no less than 24 people in it) the next morning, Alfred’s four children and 10 of the village children were gathered around hanging on me and hugging me, etc. Angel was not there and I was sad that I would not get to tell her goodbye. Then I saw her coming down the mountain trail in her blue dress. She was carrying a chicken, bound at its feet. Alfred looked at me and said, “You know that’s for you.” And because I have Americanized him a little, he said “Where is your camera?” Angel handed me the chicken as a gift. Alfred filmed the exchange and narrated it.
It was not lost on me what a huge financial sacrifice that was from her family. But what was really not lost on me was how COURAGEOUS that little girl was to become my friend--to LOVE me--and to witness to her village that they could trust and love me, too.
And so I go back to the teachings from 1 John 3. I am paraphrasing from The Message: "For this is the original message we heard: We should love each other. This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for each other, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear."
Angel demonstrated that sacrificial kind of love to me.
"Courage finds its greatest expression in love and sacrifice. It is the point where we can be sure we are in faith. When we really love in Jesus name, we are being as COURAGEOUS as we ever expected to be."--From "The Faith of Leap"
by Kelly H.