Saying goodbye to the Caring Place boys is something that has stayed with me since Saturday morning and will stay with me every time I glance down at my wrist or think of them... Ugandans are notoriously bad with goodbyes. Usually their way of showing sadness is to not show it, to look down as they address you, or look away. This time there were hugs, handshakes (while still looking away), and more hugs. I looked at Matt and Meddie, one of the older guys, was tying a friendship bracelet around his wrist. Then Monday was tying one on me. Daniel, Dennis, and more of the boys joined around, frantically running to their rooms to find some bracelet, some gave us drawings, and others, little trinkets. I ended up with two slinkies around my arms as bracelets before it was all through, as well. These things that I had seen them wearing around which had been given to them, they wanted to share with us to remember them by. I made a mental note to send back some new bracelets of our own to them to repay their kindness, and to justify accepting some of their few posessions. Those sweet boys.
"Auntie, when are you coming back?" some asked, and others more specifically inquired," Auntie, which month are you coming back?" to which I could only reply the typical Christian Ugandan response of "God knows," which I like because it is true and vague at the same time. Sadly vague. But I felt more peace about the fact that God does know. I don't, but he does. And I feel like he's bringing me back still, though I do not know the date.
The faces, the hands which were tying on bracelets, are etched in my memory, traced into my palms from countless greetings and handholds, and invisibly grabbing hold of my heart.
Where I expected downcast glances, or difficulty even rounding some of them up out of their rooms so early for goodbyes... we instead were followed across the lawn and down to the street to catch our boda motorcycle back to Bukaya. All of them, waving in the street, us covered in bracelets and holding papers and small toys, shouting I love yous... I barely made it onto the back of that boda before I lost it. It's a long ride to Bukaya in silence with your driver, but the wind is very efficient when it comes to whipping away the evidence... all I could think was God, you know. Please bring us back.