After 5 years in Uganda… this past Tuesday… she left. It was heartbreaking for her but she knows it was the right thing to do.
This is a very special post by my dear sister, Leah Pauline. She wrote this as part of our “Adventures Abroad” series. It is a moving piece about walking forward with faith…Enjoy.
Like a Child…
First of all, I am not a yogi. I like yoga. I respect people that do yoga. I once committed myself to doing yoga for a week and loved the way I felt so physically aware of my body, but again, I would never call myself a yogi. When my incredible spiritual yogi sister asked me to do a guest post on her yoga blog, I had no idea what to write about. In fact, I was confused why she would even ask me. She is convinced that I am a yogi at heart. In Theresa’s post ,Welcome to Yoganda, she talked about how the people in Uganda are yogis in disguise, maybe perhaps that makes me a little bit more of yogi than I thought? After all, these yogis in disguise have been my greatest life teachers in the last five years, as I have made their home my home. I have learned so many life lessons from them on a daily basis from patience, simplicity, unity, humility, confidence, the list goes on and on. The latest thing I have learned is PRESENCE.
A couple weeks ago, after the kids got out of church a few of the older girls asked me to teach them my favorite church song. I chose, “Like a Child” by Mercy Me. Later that day, we sat in my office and sang the lyrics over and over again. “They say that I can move the mountains, and send them falling to the sea. They say that I can walk on water… If I would follow and believe… with faith like a child.” While we were singing, Musana’s five youngest girls ran into the office with the biggest smiles and joyful spirits imaginable. They started jumping around, laughing uncontrollably. I listened to the words we were singing, and watched the pure bliss of the three-year old girls in front of me. I envied them. They exemplify the words, “faith like a child,” perfectly. Nonchalantly and naturally, they live in the moment. They have this never failing faith and belief in everything…. It is so refreshing. It makes me rethink where my mind has been recently… worrying about the future.
Right now, I am living in Uganda, where I have lived for four of the last five years. I have a job that I love. I have a new house that I love. I have a boyfriend that I love. I am surrounded by kids that I love. This foreign land is no longer foreign, it is my home and I love it. However, I am on the verge of moving on. In four months, I will be moving to a city that I have never been to with people I have never met. Four months after that, I will be in another foreign city. Four months after that, I will be in another. And four months after that, another. I am about to start this huge adventure and I am terrified. I am leaving a life that I feel blessed to have and I have no idea what my future holds. Terrified. On a daily basis, I worry about it. I worry about leaving my job, my house, my boyfriend, the kids, everything. I worry that I will regret my decision to leave. I worry that I will be forgotten. I worry.
So I am sitting in my office, singing about how to have faith “Like a child” when these three-year old girls run in, living fully in the PRESENT, without a worry in the world. I have suffered very little compared to them and yet I am the one that worries. The giddiest and happiest of all these little kiddos is Irene. This is her story: her father died around the time she was born and her mom who is HIV+ abandoned her. Irene started living with her uncle deep in the village. He was caring for multiple other kids, completely neglecting the needs of three-year old Irene. We found Irene in this village, and recognized her as the neediest, dirtiest, sickest of all the other impoverish village kids. This is saying a lot. She had a terrible skin rash, and jiggers ALL over her body. She was dirty and malnourished. Her state of being was to the point that nobody wanted to be around her, in fear of also getting sick. A month later, here I was envious of the joy that Irene has, envious of her ability to live in this present moment of singing and dancing, with no worry of her situation or where she would be tomorrow… she was completely content. She lives day by day, trusting that she will be provided for. She has inspired me to look at my own life and challenged me to live in the today and be content. She is my teacher and with this lesson, I have started a ritual.
On a daily basis, I take time and go to one of my favorite spots around Musana or in town…. My absolute favorite is on a balcony that I climb up to that overlooks the busiest, craziest part of Iganga town- the market. I go there and I just sit. I use the time to reflect on my life, meditate, and simply BE PRESENT. It is amazing how I have overlooked such a simple necessity of being content… presence. I watch, I listen, I live. I soak up the African sights, smells, and sounds that surround me- People everywhere. Businessmen and women walking home from work, Children walking home from school. Hundreds of local men and women, sitting under bright umbrellas selling fresh fruits and vegetables from a long season of labor. Cages and cages of live chickens, being sold for tonight’s dinner. The African mixed aroma of fresh fruit, body odor, and garbage overwhelming my nostrils with its unique freshness. Trucks passing with loads of green banana being dropped in the market. The sound of motorcycles passing, cars honking, vendors making a sale. Total chaos. However, for me, it is where I find peace. It is where I grasp the life I have been blessed with. It is where I can pause and take a look into the world I live in and appreciate it. It is where my physical and spiritual presence becomes one.
The lesson: Yes, I am leaving. Yes, it is terrifying. What I need to do is be like Irene… like a child. I need to remember my favorite child hood phrase and a common saying in Africa, “Hakuna Matata.” I can’t worry about the adventure. I need to embrace it. I need to open my mind, ready for anything that comes believing that everything will be okay. At the same time, I need to live in the moment and enjoy the today. I need to soak up the sights, hug as many kids as I can, close my eyes and remember the smells, the sounds, the people, and the feelings of where I am. I need to laugh until I cry; I need to cry until I laugh. I need to be completely PRESENT. I need to do so with faith like a child because tomorrow will be exactly how it is supposed to be and when it comes I don’t want to regret not living my life to the fullest today.