A year and a half ago I moved to Uganda and I did not really even know what that meant, I had no idea if it would be three months or years or unforeseeable future. I just knew I was going. I cried my way through security, boarded the airplane alone and hoped that someone would be there at the tiny Entebbe airport to pick me. Looking back now, I do not know how I did it- How did I manage to come to this place with one Ugandan friend who would help me navigate this new life?
A year ago I found myself being swallowed by loneliness and feeling purposeless and begging God that there had to be more for me here. I was so tired of feeling like nothing I did was worth anything. I mopped the floor and blast music about how it would be okay, but I never really believed it. I wanted more than anything to have purpose and meaning on this planet of 7.6 billion people.
And then purpose came, not in a grand display but through the stillness and sorrow and brokenness. It was in the form of a place called home to children finding their way, in offering education to children who just need empowerment, in four children who I strive to love well as I foster and advocate for them. Purpose found me in school offices and government offices and church offices and children home offices. Purpose in situations that were and are the hardest to comprehend and accept.
I have never truly felt complete, felt like I could look at my life and find contentment. There is now a purpose that has made it’s home in this place and has sat me down in front of a life that I never imagined would be mine. And there’s something so good, something that has been missing my entire life.
It’s a purpose that I wake up with the sun every morning to help my youngest into his uniform and say good morning to my sweet girl as she is the first to hurry off to school, then the fourteen year old walks inside to take a boiled egg or fill his water bottle, and finally that twelve year walks in looking as though his eyes have just opened and he stumbles around looking for his books and asking if he can take sugar to put in the unsweetened porridge at school. I want to cry because they are so incredibly beautiful and so loved.
There was a time when I measured my success and failures by busyness, by how long and hard I could go. But now, now that I have finally, finally, felt this purpose, I know that everything means nothing without grace. Ministry takes place in the mundane, when I’m cooking and they are telling stories from the day or teasing the youngest and I cannot believe how I just mopped the house when there are muddy footprints all over my tiled floors again; I catch that twinkle in his eye or the laughter coming in through the windows and suddenly the floors and the teasing and the dirt do not matter so much. This cultivating fierce and wild and brave souls is worth everything. Everything. I would spend a thousand more nights lonely and afraid if I knew this life brought me them.
And at the same time, this purpose is hard because these beautiful souls are missing a mother who was supposed to be the one to love and cherish and grow them. The contradiction I feel– the highest joy and the deepest pain when I see her in them, it makes my heart beat a little deeper, makes me strive to do better.
I say goodnight and ask the fourteen year old to hand me a pot that has been drying on the porch and he looks at me and says “eeeh, aunt kris, do you ever sleep?” because it’s after 10pm and I am putting eggs on the stove to boil for them to take to school the next day. But what he does not know is that this is my greatest honor, to create this place of belonging and to belong to it myself. I see their brave hearts and I cannot understand or fully grasp how I have been entrusted with them, because this feels like I’m witnessing a miracle, the rising of the fiercest souls.
I sit reading Charlotte’s Web to the youngest and I have forgotten that Charlotte dies, he had been so prepared for Wilbur’s untimely death that somehow Charlotte’s departures makes his eyes well up with tears and I stop reading to ask him if he is okay. But this compassion I see, it was not who he was a year ago when he came to live with me and his heart had a wall built around it. I kiss him goodnight and this is the very best, the purpose found in the small every day things, the humble, the hard, the stirring of beans, the pouring porridge into flasks, the pulling out splinters from fingers and bandaging scrapes. It’s this rhythm that found me when I asked God for more, and He always has more to give.
He has entrusted me with this wildly beautiful life, and I’m still just soaking it in.