Pumpkin spice lattes and football. Back in the United States, those were my two favorite things about this time of year. My Starbucks intake increased dramatically in September and October, and Saturdays were spent cheering on all my favorite football teams, from my little nephews’ games to the NCAA games on television.
I’m not sure it ever dawned on me that someday everything could change.
Pumpkin spice lattes have turned into Stoneys and Novidas.
Driving around in my Camry with the windows down has turned into boda rides and boat trips on Lake Victoria.
Instead of cheering on football teams, I’m cheering on groups of Ugandan children just running around an open field being silly.
My Saturdays have changed. And while I miss the old… I love the new.
Since I arrived almost two months ago, I’ve spent a Saturday taking supplies to an orphanage in a village. I spent another Saturday visiting a village on an island. Another Saturday I walked a 10K to help raise awareness about child sacrifice. And today we went back to the island to help run a jigger clinic.
A year ago when I sat in my comfy Colts chair at my nephew’s football game and sipped my latte, I never imagined that a year later God would have me at a jigger clinic in Uganda. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have known what that was. But today, I found out.
While we expected the people to come in masses to the clinic where jiggers would be removed, no one actually showed up. Since the process involves using a safety pin to cut around a jigger buried in the skin, then squeezing it out along with a bunch of disgusting bodily fluids, I can’t say I’m completely devastated that there weren’t a ton of people there.
We thought our mission had changed. Instead, we would play with the kids. But while doing so, Tiffany discovered our first patient, a little girl in a red dress who had jiggers in her toes. Tiffany scooped the little girl up and we followed them to the clinic.
The child was probably three or four years old, and once her filthy red dress was removed so the child could be bathed, we were shocked to discover the “she” was actually a “he.” This precious little boy was wearing a red dress, probably the only thing he had to wear.
Tiffany and Allison were quick to put on gloves and grab washcloths to start cleaning the boy and prepping him for the jigger removal. He didn’t fight it. He didn’t cry. He just kind of sat there in the water, allowing them to clean his soiled body. The love that Tiffany and Allison showed this child reminded me so much of Jesus, who was never too good to do things for those who were dirty.
Finally, the nurse took over and started to work on the removal process, and just as it was time for us to leave, more and more children showed up, their tiny African feet filled with jiggers.
Saturdays are so different now. Today I really stood back and observed what was going on around me. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, wanting to capture everything in photos and now in words, but I did feel a little overwhelmed today and really got to thinking, “Where do I fit in?”
It was wonderful and simple to know my role on a Saturday back in the United States. I was an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, a niece, a cousin, a friend. Here I’m just Natalie on any given Saturday, a child of God trying to find her place in Africa.