by Alli Kennedy
BHM 2018 Short-Term Summer Missionary
there is a school
Where hundreds of children greet our group
with warm affection
at the last classroom I desperately try to hold back the flood of tears that have been rising to my eyes
And for a moment I don’t hear anything
I just see her
Dancing and smiling
Freezing in time
“Alli, can you spot your child?” Our translator Jackson asks
I nod excitedly and point at her
Her eyes light up and we both run towards each other kneeling into an embrace
She places her little hand in mine
never letting go
we ride to Katanga
her only response to my hundreds of questions along the journey a shy little “yes”
When we arrive
She leads me through beaten dirt paths
As if to say “let me show you my home”
as she pulls me along
She looks back at me with bright eyes
and a grin from ear to ear
with two little teeth missing from the bottom
she is the contrast of beauty
In this hell
In this slum
with a river of sewage
rising from rainfall
walls start closing in as Esther leads me
To her home
Her grandmother greets me and welcomes as many of us that can fit into her home
her house is the size of my bathroom
only a curtain separating the bed from the living area
She tells me
Esther’s mother cannot care for her
because of the mental challenges she faces
she has been taken advantage of several times of so no one knows Esther’s father
her grandmother is aging
Their only hope has been through sponsorship
For Esther’s school, clothes, water, and food
and in that moment
I feel peace
I also feel absolutely horribly helpless
I want to save her from the hell she lives in
I want to take her into my arms and run away to safety
I want her to know love
I want her to know the love of my Father
it takes everything in me to not break in that moment
We walk to lunch holding hands
My friends swinging her in between us
She sits with us and laughs and laughs
Her sweet giggles bringing joy to everyone around the room
Her dances inspiring claps and videos
She makes silly faces at us
Her goofy personality on full display
She asks for my water and tries to drink it
All at once
I stop her for breaks
This is probably the most water she’s ever had to drink at once.
My heart sinks
I try to hide my tears from her
Beneath a smile
but it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
We walk along back to her home
I know our time together is short
But to her little mind, this lasts forever.
This is it.
This is the end of her suffering.
and I can’t take that from her
I just can’t.
When we reach the bus, I get on my knees to meet her eyes and her smile fades
Like she knew the dream I was about to steal away from her
Jackson tells her she has to go home and we’re leaving for the day
I can see her little heart drop.
she lets go of my hand
I coax her back into my arms and she stands still
“Hey, I love you sweet girl” I whisper to her
A blank stare haunts me
From eyes that had shined so bright
I step away from her and wave
she turns her back to walk home
and as her little feet carry her away from me
the dust churns as we drive away.
She fades into the horizon of Katanga.
Esther is just one of many children that live in Katanga with a story like this. Sponsorship can be the only hope for some children to go to school and to have meals and clean water. A year ago, a post from my friend, Waverly McCall, convicted me of how much I was spending on food and extraneous items when I could be changing the life of a little girl in Uganda. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to meet her and cherish her for even a short time. She has rocked my whole world and shown me how to love in a way I never knew how. If you are interested in sponsoring a child and forever changing his or her future, please check out Benjamin House Ministries and the wonderful things they’re doing in Uganda.
Leave a Reply.
Benjamin House staff, short-term missionaries, and our founders