"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Sunday, October 06, 2013

guest post by avis: communion

CTT board member and former team member (Teams 4 and 5) was asked to speak at her church, St. Andrew Christian Church, about communion. Here are the remarks she made this morning. They're amazing.

"We’ve all heard the numbers.  Yet they are hard to comprehend.  2.2 million children in the tiny country of Uganda, orphaned by AIDS or a civil war that has been raging in the northern part of the country for the last 20 years.  One hundred and eighty-six of those children are fortunate to live at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in Kajjansi, Uganda.    

When a team from Change the Truth arrives, the children’s hands and bodies clamor for ours. Their need for adult touch, and affection and attention is visceral.  They grab hold of us and smile, reach in for a hug, then let go, run off, giggle, run back....grab hold again, run off, over and over… it is a frenetic, dizzying dance.

And then, usually around day 4 or 5, something happens….not with every child, but with  many….. and enough times now, that I know it to be true.  There is this moment…. This almost imperceptible yet spectacular moment when the connection between us shifts… when I know this child has felt seen and heard and valued, and the touch no longer feels desperate, or needy or tentative but real and genuine.  Communion.

·       Eddie and Tony are playing cards….. and out of nowhere, a spontaneous burst of laughter and high 5’s erupt.  Communion.

·       Jennifer and Rita are clapping and singing….. when a tingle goes up the back of Jennifer’s neck, and she realizes Shine is braiding her hair.  Communion.

·       Gloria sees Sarah crying, and sits with her, holding her sadness.  Communion.

·       Shy, quiet Beatrice, slips her head under Suzanne’s arm.   Communion.

·       Oliva… tiny, emaciated, new to the orphanage, crawls into my lap and loosely folds her hands around mine.  Communion.

And then… the team leaves Uganda.   But here’s the thing….. Communion and connection and relationship aren’t bound by distance or language or culture or religion. Real communion just finds another way.  And so for now, the children’s hands and our hands are joined in writing letters….. and relationships continue to grow and deepen. Communion continues.

Dear Avis,
How are you in there?  Back to me, I am fine.  I am in Senior 2 this year. We have sixteen subjects:  Math, English, Sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Commerce, Luganda, Kiswahili, Entrepreneurship, Religious Education, Computers, Literature and so forth. Math is my worst subject. 

Dear Avis,
My favorite color is red, and my brother’s name is Soloman.  What is your favorite color? 

Dear Avis,
I am writing to tell you that my grandmother died on 12 May.  I just got word.  She is my last relative. 

Dear Avis,
Please send information about British Columbia which is one of the provinces in Canada.  Have you ever traveled to Canada?  What are the characteristics of the trees there?  Do you know how they transport logs to the mill?  If so, please write it back quick.

Dear Avis,
Today is visitation day at our school.  All of the parents are here to visit their children and check on their performance.  It is a hard day for me so I am writing you. 

Dear Avis,
We missed you at Christmas this year.  How is your foot?  Did the surgery help you walk better?  I hope so.  Your letter says you will be back in 2014.  We are waiting for that.  We were so happy to get sweets from America for holiday. Candy canes from a church called St. Andrew.  Did I tell you that I go to the Catholic Church in Kajjansi?  Do you remember seeing it?  We walked past it when we went to the soccer match.  By the way, I am meaning to ask you….. do you have communion?" 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was so beautifully written and poetic. It has such depth and meaning. Thanks for sharing your insight Avis.