Continuing with the themes from the book, “Nothing but a Thief”, the author at one point says she asked one of the boys the question, “What do you wake up for?”. It made me stop and think. The boy’s answer was difficult to read. He told her that he tried to stay asleep for as long as he possibly could into the day, but eventually his hunger got the best of him and forced him to wake up and go and steal to get something to eat. It made me think about a life where I had nothing to wake up for. I can’t imagine such a life, but for these boys it is reality. It is their every day when they are on the street. Their hunger is what drives them to move out of the spaces they sleep, forces them to steal, even to take drugs. In Peru, like many other countries, street kids take glue. They inhale it or smoke it. In Uganda, I have never seen a boy sniffing glue because here they sniff kyenge (expired aviation fuel). Just like glue, it dulls their hunger, keeps them warm at night, eases their fears and takes away their emotions. I don’t know much about addiction, but at least with the boys I know, I don’t think their addictions are physiological. I think they are psychological. A boy can come into a home and quit taking kyenge cold turkey. He can be fine and not ever want to take it again until something brings up the past or something bad happens to him. When things get too much for them that is when they go back to their kyenge, to make them not feel anything again.
After I thought about the boys and the ones still on the street, I had to find my answer. What do I wake up for? I think the obvious answer is the boys. And it is true. I do wake up every morning because of them. They make my days worth it. They make my days better. They make my life better. They make me laugh with their ridiculous notions and jokes. They make me cry tears of happiness and joy, as well as sorrow and heartbreak. They challenge me to be a better person: more loving and giving, more forgiving and considerate. They teach me how I deserve to be treated and how worthy I am of love. They protect me, care for me, help me, love me.
I stop to think about them and their brokenness and how I hope to love them enough each day that they hurt a little less, but when I really think about it, they have done the same for me. I see Jesus in them every day. I wonder how I survived 30 years of my life without them in it. When I stopped to think about my answer, I also realized how lucky I am to have a reason to wake up each morning. I realized that many people in the world are not as fortunate. I wake up each day with joy to spend another day doing what I love with people that I love. Not everyone is so lucky. I think about life before Uganda. I didn’t have a bad life. I had friends, a job, everything was fine. However, every morning I dreaded waking up and going to my job (probably why I was late every morning). Even though I had everything I needed, I didn’t have a reason to wake up. It makes me sad for all of the time wasted but I know had I came to Uganda 5 years ago, or even 10, I wouldn’t have been ready and these kids wouldn’t be the ones in my life. The other night at devotions, our new uncle JP, asked the boys if they thought they were in the home by mistake. While some of them didn’t get the question, most of them did. They saw God’s hand working in our life and bringing us all together. It is still incredible to me that God would know what would make my heart come alive and give my life meaning long before I did. It is amazing to me that God knew these boys that would be in my life, long before I even knew Uganda existed.
For some of the boys, they are still working to find their reasons. They had no reason for so long and have forgotten what it is to dream and have hope. One boy in particular, is so fatalistic, he refuses to make any decisions about his life or have any dreams. I don’t think he even knows what it is to dream. When we ask him what he wants to do or be, he answers “I don’t know. God knows. Whatever He has planned is fine.” He still doesn't get that he has all the opportunity in the world now. If he wants to be a doctor, it could happen. If he wanted to be a pilot, it could happen. But instead, he sits and waits for life to happen to him.
It is one of the most frustrating things because how do you teach someone to dream when they gave up their dreams long ago? How do you teach someone to hope, when the streets robbed them of their hope years ago? How can you teach someone that God has good plans for them, when they cried out to God every night for years, and finally gave up because they were convinced He wasn't listening? How do you teach someone to take an active role in making life happen, when they had life happen to them in horrible ways at a young age?
I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I don’t know if I will ever have the answers but what I do know is God gave me reasons to wake up every morning. He placed them in my life for a reason and has called me to love them. I know I won’t change them or give them hope, but I can love them. So each day, I will love them and continue to pray He will take care of the rest. I also pray that I will never wake up forgetting how lucky I am to finally have a reason to wake up.