By Team Member - Alex Green
Wednesday, October 8th
Today was the most emotional day for me so far. Every day here we're faced with something new and hard to swallow, but today I experienced an artisan's story that really hit home for me.
At the beginning of the trip, each of us on the team were assigned three artisans that we were meant to get to know the most and bond with. I was given three incredible women —Josephine O., Florence, and Margaret— who immediately welcomed me with open arms alongside the other nine women. It's hard to not feel the love around these beautiful ladies!
Today the team and I had the opportunity to visit Margaret and her son David in their home. I knew very little about what to expect to hear after only reading her brief story on the website, but was excited to learn more about my artisan who smiles and hugs, but generally stays quiet. What kind of past laid behind those gentle and caring eyes?
Margaret cautiously began to tell us the story of her family and how she came to live in Acholi Quarters. Her voice lowered, she explained that she once was blessed with thirteen children, including three separate sets of twins. She and her husband loved them all unconditionally, and they lived on a plot of land that they owned. I immediately identified with Margaret, being a twin myself and knowing how much we mean to our mother.
One day when seven of her children were playing at their grandparents' home, the LRA rebels came. They trapped them all in the house before setting it on fire and burning them all alive. Suddenly Margaret couldn't go on anymore and began to weep. Her son, David, held her hand as he finished the rest of the story about how they escaped from their village and came to live in the slum. David lost his own twin brother in that attack, along with his grandparents and six of his other siblings.
To any other person, this story seems almost unfathomable. Who could even imagine such horror? But suddenly I began thinking about my own twin sister, and what that terrible day must have been like for Margaret and her family. My eyes swelled with tears as I imagined how my own mother would have felt if she ever lost one of us, let alone lost one of us in that fashion. I thought about the absolute heartbreak I would have felt if my own sister had been killed, stripped away from me forever by rebels. How could I even go on living? Yet there Margaret sat, still riddled with grief and longing for her lost children, but a believer in Christ just the same.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't control my tears. I was absolutely ashamed to be sobbing uncontrollably in front of Margaret and her son, who had suffered so much, and I so little in comparison. But then Margaret looked to David and told him in Luganda that I am also a twin. David turned to me and called out, "My sister!" and stood to embrace me as I cried. I then hugged Margaret, and she clasped my face in her hands. "My daughter," she said.
God's love is truly relentless, but if I've learned anything from this experience it's that so is the love of these women. I've honestly never been so happy in my entire life spending time with our artisans, and I feel absolutely blessed to be able to hear their stories firsthand and tell them to the world. These twelve women are the strongest people I have ever met and I am so unworthy of the love and encouragement they've given me over the last few days. The thought of leaving here so soon, with the chance of never returning, breaks my heart. I can only pray that one day the Lord will bring me back here, and I'll be greeted by Margaret, my new Ugandan mother.
We are all daughters of the One True King, no matter what color we are or where we live, and my heart is forever changed.