Usually she can recount them in vivid detail the next morning after moving into her sister's bed for the rest of the night.
This one is particularly gruesome.
"They were chasing us with guns...Vaeh and I couldn't get away...they shot Selah in the head and she died..."
And I wonder again what things she has seen in her seven years.
She has been with us now for nine months, and just recently she has begun to share her stories.
Something happens, a "trigger", and she's remembering.
A few months ago we were traveling to Kampala when traffic came to a standstill in the road. We inched forward until we were able to see the cause of the back up, a woman, sitting in the middle of the road, legs folded under her, facing oncoming traffic. We pulled the car over to talk to her and find out the problem, but she was unwilling to move or even look at Kenneth as he tried to help her. We slowly drove our car around her and prayed for her safety with our children. Only Rikot understood what she was doing. And the memories began...
"My tata want die once. She had lot ebutia (alcohol) and got knife. She want hurt ineth (herself),
but my auntie lock ineth in the hut so she not hurt ineth with knife."
"I saw apethe(girl) get hit by car. She my friend from Losilang. The car come atipe (fast), and she not move. She not walk anymore."
And then the questions...
"Why that aberu (woman) want to die? Why no one help her? Maybe she all by ineth (herself)...
maybe her husband beat ineth...maybe her ikoku (child) die..."
She understands too much for seven years old. And we talk...about God's love for that woman...
about how we can love those people who don't have anyone else to love them.
She is quiet, sad, thinking.
"Maybe she not know Jesus love ineth (her)," she says softly. "Somebody need tell ineth."
I am fighting back tears now, remembering the first time I saw her in the village, sick, malnourished,
flies covering her open sores. HIV had worn out her little body, and she looked tired of living. I remember being heartbroken for weeks after meeting her. I couldn't stop imagining her in a few years, unwanted because of her disease. She would never have enough to eat, never go to school, never marry or have children, if she even survived to adulthood. Over the weeks we visited her it seemd as though I could see the life draining out of her slowly. She was getting sicker and sicker. I had never met a child so devoid of joy, of life.
And I remember thinking, "Maybe she doesn't know Jesus loves her. Somebody needs to tell her."
I look back at her, my joyful, beautiful, healthy, full-of-life daughter, and I am amazed. This is a new child. Sometimes she has bad dreams and sometimes she remembers things I wish she had never had to experience, but the fact remains...she is not the same. She is now wanted, loved, and cherished. She now knows that Jesus loves her so much he laid down his life for her, and these things have changed her. I am so proud of the little girl she is...her heart is so good. God has used these painful things in her own life to give her such a compassion for the hurting. She is quick to share anything with her friends who have less, and she expects us to do the same. She knows Jesus loves her, and she loves Him. Her innocent faith challenges me. How has my faith become so complicated that I worry more about creating "dependency" with my giving than about people being hungry? It's so simple really.
"To love with understanding, and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see what is lovable.
To think only of these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues, rather than their faults. To
see Christ in them!" -Dorothy Day
God is doing a new thing in Uganda, a new thing in our family, a new thing in our children, a new thing in our hearts. He is teaching us to love without holding back, without thought of consequences or repercussions. He is giving us a chance to walk where He walked. He is teaching us what it means to have compassion for these harassed and helpless crowds who wander like sheep without a shepherd.
Pray for us as we love and struggle and grow and learn. Pray for laborers to come to Uganda and walk alongside us. There are so many people who need to know Jesus' love!
"Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19