Last Friday I talked about SHOWING UP. Showing up despite fear. Showing up despite discomfort. Showing up with open eyes and open hearts and reaching out to people in need. The words are a big deal no matter how you’re deciding to show up this year. Turning those words into action is an even bigger deal.
I’m in Uganda with Compassion International this week. I’ve never been this far from home, and while I like to consider myself a person who travels a lot, there’s still a bit of anxiety shaking around in my belly. I can feel the far away.
Halfway through our flight from Amsterdam to Uganda this past weekend, I realized I was going to have to set some things aside. The scarf I’d been using as a security blanket for the past day and a half of travel would have to go in the warm Ugandan climate. The neck pillow… outta here! Did I really need that thing anyway? Hand sanitizer… just enough already.
More real than the material comforts though, I realized way up in the air between continents, that I’d also need to set aside my comfort zone, my sense of normalcy, and my ridiculous weekday morning social media schedule because something much bigger is at work.
Can we talk about it?
A dense crystal white fog hung over Entebbe this morning. Not the kind of fog that San Franciscans would name Karl, something more tropical, asking you to feel your skin. We waited for the fog to disperse, revealing this lush green landscape as we flew the small plane to a town in Northern Uganda called Lira.
We flew to Lira to meet these beautiful children, part of Compassion’s church center in Lira.
We were greeted in Lira by these beautiful faces singing us a welcome song. They’re the children of the All Saint Boroboro Child Development Center. As they sang I wondered if I had enough to offer them… if the nerves in my gut and the love in my heart would be enough. Just to see these bright faces with a song on their lips trotting towards you is enough to send your heart soaring. Their voices are all at once quiet and full.
By the end of their singing I, along with my security blanket and comfort zone, had also set aside my anxieties. There’s just no room for those things where hope and love shine so bright.
And then I met this little love, Gloria Hope.
I realized something big. Like… brought tears to my eyes big. All that stuff I set aside… the comforts of my big scarf, neck pillow, and regularly scheduled life and work… the comforts of who I am, and the love I have to share stays and thrives when the baggage is stripped away. You don’t need a lot. You don’t need anything, really. You just need compassion. Compassion enough to act.
I’m Gloria’s sponsor through Compassion. That means that every month, the money I donate goes directly to her physical health, mental welfare, and spiritual growth. She’s eight years old and she shines bright in the world. She wants to be a teacher, and I know one day she will be. I can see it in her eyes. To see Compassion’s work in Lira, to meet Gloria’s teachers, hear their songs, see not only their joy, but the good it brings their families… it’s incredible, connected, intentional, important work.
I made Gloria a little photo album of pictures from my life so she can understand me a bit better. I could tell she was perplexed by the number of cat photos in the book… when you strip things away, you never do stop being weird. So there’s that.
In other news, I’m trying to figure out how to translate “Hey girl, heeeyyyy’ into the local dialect. So far, no luck. I’ll keep trying… for all of us.
There are thousands of children just Gloria Hope all over the world that are waiting for sponsors through Compassion International. You won’t need a security blanket or neck pillow to change the life of a child in need. You just need to love that’s pumping through your veins exactly right now. You also need to be compassionate enough to act, which you totally are. This is real. The change, the love, the success. It really matters. I’ve seen it.
Other perspectives from Uganda:
Grace. At Home on The Nesting Place
What Hope Looks Like on GoinsWriter
Choosing the One You Least Expect on Chatting At The Sky
Compassion provided me a link to share with you. I am in no way compensated for your sponsorship or donation. I love you and I’m glad you’re here with me on this journey.