In Uganda this past summer I met a little girl named Sharon who never spoke a word, yet forever made an impression upon my heart. She sat still on my lap, probably a bit nervous, most certainly quiet and shy. Just the kind of girl I had once been. In an effort to bring some joy to her face, I gave her the two half-empty water bottles pictured here. It was the most simple of gifts, yet she clutched them tightly and fought off older kids to give one to her little sister. Just as I imagine my own Audrey would have done for Anna.
Sharon stayed silently by my side, seeking me out when we were separated in the chaos of handing out necklaces and "sweeties." As we sat on broken steps with shattered glass at our feet, I racked my brain for a way to communicate with this sweet girl. I pulled out my journal and asked her to draw a picture. She didn't understand, so I drew a heart, gave her the pen, and pointed for her to do the same. She tentatively drew her own version of the shape. We continued this process with a smiley face, flower, and tree. I was gently showing her the way as we traded the pen back and forth. Soon the older girls crowded around wanting their own turn to draw, and I was able to ask them her name.
I became so enthralled with these girls and their drawings that I didn't noticed the rest of our team had disappeared. On the way to the bus where everyone was waiting for me, Sharon continued to hold tightly to my hand. I told her goodbye and climbed the steps only to realize that she was climbing them, too. The other kids quickly pulled her back laughing and it dawned on me... she thought she was coming with me. The force of that realization hit me, as I frantically searched the crowd. She lifted her little hand in goodbye and was pushed to the back of the throng of children. See her way in the back lifting her little hand, precious water bottle to her lips?
We pulled away and there she stood, still clutching that bottle. She hadn't known me for more than a few hours and never spoke a word. Yet, she had enough trust to get on a bus to go who knows where?
I've been in a place of uncertainty lately. Feeling God's whispering call, but not clearly hearing His voice. The opportunity to return to Uganda in a few months presented itself, and this memory kept coming back to me as I struggled with whether I should go. I wonder if I'll see her again, and if she will remember me? I wonder what she thought of the stranger who shared her pen that summer day? Most of all, I wonder if I have the kind of innocent trust to propel me to get on a bus without knowing where it was heading or if/when it would return?
In my own life the bus isn't literal, but I know that God does indeed have plans that take me outside my comfort zone. Returning to Africa being one of them. Instead of trusting in Him, I shut Him out with my fears. When He seeks me out, I reason Him away instead of taking the pen and tracing the very words that show me the way. Maybe it's time to take a lesson from a little girl in a remote Ugandan village. To take pleasure in the simple things and hold on to them tightly...to be still...to listen with my heart instead of speaking with my mouth...to follow Him...and to simply get on the bus when He calls.