I met Moses because someone else fell in love with him. The most noticeable thing about him when you first meet him are terrible looking scars on his neck. They have a horrific story to tell and it makes your mind wonder how he survived what happened to him.
When I first got to Uganda, programs for the boys only happened once a week. The community doesn't like the boys and frequently get angry about the presence of the programs. They start to put pressure on the police, who pressures the church, who pressures the ministry. Before I got to Uganda, it is my understanding that programs stopped all together and right before I got there was when they were finally able to resume. When I had only been in Uganda for about a week, another visitor came to stay for several weeks.
She fell in love with Moses and found out he wanted to be resettled. So one day we all piled into a taxi and Moses nervous with excitement and fear, rode the whole way with his eyes wide open absorbing every second of the trip. He was gone from home for maybe only 6 months. The taxi ride was beautiful. It was the first time I experienced Uganda. Everything was so lush and so green. It was easy to fall in love with Uganda that day.
Everyone was in good spirits and expected the best. The conductor of the taxi recognized Moses immediately. When we got off the taxi in the village, people recognized him immediately. He saw old friends and neighbors. Everyone happy to see him. But there were whispers. And we covered Moses ears praying they weren't true.
Unfortunately, after a short boda ride, we discovered it was worse than we could have ever imagined. In the short time since he had been gone, his mother, father, and baby sister had died. It was one of the most heartbreaking experiences of my life. You don't have words in situations like that. There was nothing to be said that could ease his guilt of leaving home, his sadness over never getting to say goodbye, his wonder at did they know he loved him, his pain of leaving home.
We found his house empty and locked up so we continued to the grandparents and that is when the day got worse. I remember a man walking up and I thought he was a stranger. He walked by us, no greeting, no handshake, like we weren't even there. Turns out that was his grandfather. He was indifferent to Moses' return, to our presence, to our requests. He didn't want us there, he didn't want Moses there. He had enough to deal with.
So we left. We went back to Kampala. That was the longest taxi ride of my life. No one talked really. No one knew what to say. Where would Moses go now? It seemed cruel to send him back to the streets. But where else could he go?
A few days later, an uncle paid another visit to the grandfather. His heart softened, he was overwhelmed by us being there the other day and couldn't manage another child. He loved Moses and with help he would keep him. Moses stayed in the village. He was supposed to go to boarding school in the village.
And then he showed back up in Kampala. I found him at church one night. He didn't have any of his things. All he could do that night was cry. He wouldn't explain what happened. He just cried.
It was difficult not to fall in love with him through all of this. So I agreed to help. The visitor was going to sponsor him and me and an uncle would look after him since she had left. Moses was a good student. He performed well and got good grades. However, his behavior spiraled out of control. He was always fighting, being rude and disrespectful. He got in trouble at school so many times. He would dodge his counselor and hide from her. He was angry and showed the world he was.
Moses left school after a last incident where someone could have been seriously hurt. The school was tired, I was tired, and no one knew what to do for him. He went back to the streets, he continued to fight and be out of control. In order for things to be different, we knew he had to want it. So we waited.
When I got back to Uganda at the beginning of the year, I noticed he was calmer. I asked around and the uncles said he was a little different. Just when I was contemplating what to do with him, another visitor said that we needed to talk about him. She was an answered prayer. She asked if I would watch him if she sponsored him. Of course I said yes. Moses was finally home again.
We aren't out of the woods with Moses. He still has a lot of anger and can be very quarrelsome but I finally have my own home where he can stay while we work through those issues with him. He has made improvements in his behavior and we are thankful for that. He asked to return to the same school that he was kicked out of so he could prove to them he was different, that he could be a good boy. When we went to school that day, everyone remembered him. No one was happy to see him. They didn't believe he had changed. They didn't believe he was different. After much begging, they accepted him. He had good school terms, but he definitely could be better. It will take time.
Heartbreak and anger like that don't go away over night. I don't know that they will ever go away.
But he is more than his pain and anger.
He is more than his hurtful words and outbursts.
He is more than the fights he starts.
He is more than his defeats and failures.
Just like Moses, we are all more than all of those things. We are all wonderfully created. Just like Moses, some of us are so hurting and broken, we can't accept who we are, how God sees us, how much He loves us. We don't think we are more or deserve another chance.
And probably we are right. We don't deserve it. But God loves us so much He won't leave us where we are. He promises that. He will keep fighting for us, giving us another chance, just so we can be who He created us to be.
This isn't just another chance for Moses. It is another chance for me. A chance to be His hands and feet. Another chance to show Moses the great and unending love of our Maker. Another chance for us both to be different.