Monday, March 16, 2009


Scene 1
[Saturday morning 8:30 AM at Uganda Christian University. Far shot as Geoff and Sarah step onto the track field for a run. Geoff nods to a Ugandan friend walking up to them.]
Janai: [smiling, still a small distance away and walking] I want to ask you some questions about faith!

Scene 2
[Inside classroom looking out over track field. Teacher's voice slowly becomes recognizable. Clock reads 9:30 AM. Pinky, Janai's friend, has been looking out the window, wondering when these three will stop walking around the track. She watches them take turns gestulating wildly and hopping around. She laughs. When the teacher looks over she smiles innocently, and settles further into her seat.]

Scene 3
[10:30 am short view from Sarah and Janai still walking, them foreground, Geoff sitting talking with another Ugandan background. Off-screen voice calls out, wide shot of them and distantly on the hill overlooking track a figure in a red shirt]
Martin: [astounded, teasing] Janai! You're still walking? You're late!
Janai: What do you mean? What time is it?
Martin: It's already 10:30!
Janai: Ah! Hey. [grabs Sarah's arm] I've got to child rehabilitation. Want to come?
Sarah: [surprised, curious] Uh…sure, yeah! [pause] What's that?

Turns out that means going to a children's home to sing and dance, talk about a bible lesson and play soccer. With a cell group from the Kampala Pentecostal Church. Turns out that deciding to go wake up early to eat breakfast and run with Geoff cuz we were both feeling distant from God and people means meeting a girl who wants to talk about God and people, who wants a sign from God but then looks at the trees and sees, a girl who happens to be from Gulu and goes to the church when she's there I've been asking God if I should volunteer with, whose name happens to not be her real name but the name she got when she came to Christ after growing up Muslim a name that happens to mean God hears, a girl who happens to be an answer to prayers, though I'm still not sure what the answer is.

Friday all the local primary schools came to that same track for competitions. I had run the day before, and was reminded of how much I love to run, so it was heaven to be around so many young cheering, singing, laughing young people. Especially young people in pink and blue and red and yellow uniforms.. Actually, that's partly why we decided to go running Saturday.

This race started, and right away it was cool to see this kid in a red shirt and black sweat band and no shoes take the lead. They were running, and we were thinking wow they're going pretty fast maybe it's a 400, or 440, or whatever this track is cuz it's bigger than normal. But then they went for a second lap and we figured okay an 880. That second lap the kid who'd been keeping up with the one in the red shirt had to stop and sit down. By the eighth lap we'd lost count, and about five kids had started taking turns trying to catch up and pass the boy in the red shirt, including a boy in a ripped wife beater, hawaiin shorts and boots. But that kid just kept running. And you know what? That kid kept running for all of it. Every single one of the total 25 laps. Smiling every once in a while at his cheering friends with a flash of white teeth. He had ran a 10 K, over 6 miles. A kid in primary school, so at the very oldest maybe 15. Insane.

I got a picture of him. His name's Rashid. He's the one on the right. In the red.

I was walking home really fast Saturday, passing people right and left. But there was one guy I hadn't passed yet on the winding village path. I wanted to. I guess Rashid inspired me. Anyways, if I'm not playing the let's pass everyone it's a race game, I'm playing the let's smile at everyone and see what they do game. Some days, I play both. So I smiled as I started to pass him. But then he smiled back, and asked how I was. So I quit playing games, and we started talking. Half an hour later we were talking still, but now we were talking about how the media only shows the starving Africans, but not the Africans leading good work in their communities. Robert already knew I'm taking development studies. I asked him what he does. He owns a non-governmental organization and does community development. We kept walking and talking until we got to my road. It turns out he was going to visit his mother. Who also turns out to be my neighbor.

And I almost just passed him up.

Lesson learned? Play games until someone plays with you. Then stop playing games.

And I still don't trust myself. I'm really struggling to have patience. With myself. With other students. With miscommunications. With sitting in questions. It scares me, because when you lose patience it's cuz you don't love enough to suffer. Patience is long-suffering, and it's a choice, like running every lap even when it hurts. Love is very intentional. It's a choice. Lately, it's been a really difficult choice. Pray, please.

1 comment:

  1. Don't forget that we are here to experience joy as well as suffering. Look for joy everyday. WIll keep you in my prayers.