We are back to Kampala just for the week. Nestled in the very same condo where we lived for 7 months of our life here in Uganda. I am filled with the strongest dichotomy of emotions I have ever experienced. There was such strange sadness as I hand washed the dishes and counted 5 spoons that just a few months earlier counted 7. Funny math. I am very aware of the two that are not with us. I saw someone pushing Jonathan’s tire. At lunch Caleb laughed and said, “Kylee do you remember when Jonathan was wet coming out of the shower and made the floor slick and Joshua fell and slipped in the water?” And because no one was seriously injured all 3 children belly laughed. I walked past the flowers where Caroline and her girlfriends made flower crowns and played princesses. I walked in to the room with 4 bunks and instead of 5 children squeezed together like sardines, I was acutely aware of the 1 empty bed.
We return to this place because as bitter as it may be…there are wonderful people in this place. People we love. It feels safe and familiar. There is food that nourished our hearts and souls for 7 months. There are bright blue skies and green gardens. There is space for the kids to run and climb trees. There are “new” guards–but guards who are so very the same in their stories and joy in receiving a dinner or cup of coffee in appreciation for their thankless service. There are new faces and parents but so much of the same stories and hearts for community and orphans and it takes me to a place of deep gratitude for their story turning out completely differently than mine. There are dirt roads that I have walked a million times filled with trash. Roads that I am now leading Caspian down; trying to avoid the morsels of “something” I don’t want in his belly. Roads that I feel so very safe and known. Last night I walked across the street to the Terracotta restaurant and ordered dinner. Incredibly, I had never personally been there before and the manager explained it was going to be a while but she would deliver it to our compound. I had never met her before and asked how she knew where I lived–but she said, “oh I know you.” So as much as some of the memories are a bit more tender for my taste…it is wonderful to be in a place where you are known.
This place holds the ghosts of adoption past and I can hear the voices and laughter of so many specific women. Women who shared important holidays–and brought pumpkin spiced mnms and holiday appropriate napkins. Women who held my hands and prayed powerful healing prayers. Women who road bodas and toasted birthdays and sometimes just celebrated when it was Tuesday. I see faces of couples who shared guac and chips…and honest thoughts on our future in UG. And couples that trusted us as the first ones to watch their precious little one. I see faces of women whose hearts are as big as Africa. This place holds the ghosts of memories I will treasure for a lifetime.
How very strange to walk in the dichotomy of my history of this place. A place worth returning. A place to be celebrated. But also a place that brings memories and reminders of something so real and raw it doesn’t seem possible that one would ever want to return?! Instead it makes you honestly want to request a do-over.
“That’s how life is. It won’t be sweet forever. But it won’t be bitter forever either. If everywhere you look these days it is wintery, desolate, lonely, practice believing in springtime. It always comes, even on days like today, with ground frozen, trees bare and spiky. New life will spring from this same ground. This season will end, and something new will follow it.” (Bittersweet, Niequist)
I am believing in springtime. In the meantime…I am living (literally) in the bitter and the sweet of this place. This place called Jaca and this place called Uganda.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed,