The goodbyes begin.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
These boys have been part of our life, our extended family, for a decade or more. John (far right) and Luke used to fight over trucks in the sand under the mango tree when they could barely walk. They all learned their math facts from flash-cards in our kitubbi, and their catechism. They listened to Bible stories on flannelgraphs, and read our books and magazines. They have spent countless hours playing football in our yard, eaten countless meals here, gone on hikes and trips with us. Now they range from just-starting secondary school to mid-University level. (Two are not pictured because they are in schools outside Bundibugyo now). Tonight they gathered to say goodbye to Luke, and to some degree Caleb as well. Luke will not come back to Bundibugyo when he graduates in July, so this was his last night at home. Their commitment to us is not all gain for them, it comes at a cost, since others are jealous of their position and ridicule them. Like adolescent boys anywhere they have gone through their share of restlessness, searching for identity, testing us and our relationship. An occasional suspension from school, or frustrating requests for more than we can give, challenge us. Then letters come from their hearts, full of thanks, and all is well. Ours is a very human and imperfect relationship, made more murky by the ambiguity of parental ties in this place, and by the chasms of culture and economy. However, when all is said and done, we love this crew, and the daily monitoring of their development counts among the greatest losses we anticipate. A true friend is a rare gift and Luke has found that (in some more than others, but it's there). On Friday we will pass through Fort Portal and say goodbye to three of his former classmates, who are also good friends. None of these boys will be on facebook in the near future, or have phones with international calling capacity. None will be traveling the seven thousand miles to visit Luke. None have ever even heard of Yale, though they're glad for his chance to go to University. Their worlds are diverging, painfully, though we will all do our best to hold them in some kind of parallel, to bridge the gap whenever we can, leaving high school and home is a pretty drastic step when home is Africa.