I've never seen such compassion in a child's eyes as I did that day. I had woken up on a Saturday morning feeling pretty awful but not wanting to miss AWANA that day. So I drove myself to Kamonkoli, determined to grit my teeth and push through the pain. By the time I navigated the mess of a 'road' we're calling a highway these days and arrived at the church, my endurance was already tottering. I climbed out of my Rav4 and weakly handed over the bags of supplies to one of my boys to carry into the church. The kids were already singing, jumping, and clapping in the sanctuary as they exuded the excitement that comes when our teams of western visitors are around. 10 minutes in, and I knew the tears converging behind my eyes would soon make a full appearance. Crying and tears are just not understood or accepted here, and I knew how uncomfortable they would make the kids. I stepped outside behind the church and vainly struggled to hold back the flow.
Just then, two of my boys, Andrew and Tingu, sauntered around the corner, arms draped over each other's shoulders. They stopped abruptly when they saw me. Soberly, they stood and observed me for a minute as I hurriedly tried to conceal the evidence of my tears. With concern, Andrew asked me, "Teecha, are the eyes paining you?"
I half-smiled, tried to put on a brave face and said, "Yes, but I know I'll be fine." I expected him to agree and continue walking on, eager to escape the awkward situation, but he didn't. He just stood there with Tingu another minute, gazing at me with the most intense compassion I have ever seen.
It was not that long ago, I stood in the tiny 2 room house that he shares with his grandmother and sister, watching the way he pulled a mattress from under the lone bed, laying it out on the floor to sleep on that night. I listened to his grandmother tell of how his parents died from Aids, and I felt the compassion for his lifetime of struggle well up within my heart. But never would I have expected to also be the recipient of this same boy's compassion.
It touched me in a way I can't even express. This child who had seen so much suffering himself extending such kindness to me, though my pain was but for a short time. I will never fail to be amazed at how much these people minister to me.