Sometimes its the little things,
like the clicking of a pink, metal cane against the stony ground.
The past weekend I had a bit more time to myself as my English classes were cancelled due to a special weekend of prayer at the my church. Wanting to do something intentional with my time I decided that instead of working on my computer at home I would take it to Hotel Orchid as it has been a place that I have been able to meet several new people and strike up conversation with them. So with this decision in mind I packed my computer and several other items into my backpack. I brought along only a small amount of franks as people often ask for money on that road and I would rather not lie to them when I say I'm not able to give money. Perhaps that seems a bit cold-hearted, but sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is not to give them what they want right away, and to state the obvious, there is just no way that I could ever give to everyone that asks me here. But I digress.
With my bag packed I locked my front door, headed out of the mission and made my way to the hotel. I often think that maybe I'll catch a moto to where I'm going but I never do and I'm always glad that I walked. Down the busy street of Lumumba, past the money-changers and the round-a-bout and up the dirt road which will eventually curve down to the path leading directly to the hotel.
It was on the dirt road that I encountered David. He was by a big gate on the right of the road and when he saw me, the color of my skin, he made his way across the road to where I was walking. He didn't run as a lot of boys do though, rather, he quickly limped, grasping one of his legs with one hand and a pink, metal cane with the other. Then, with the most helpless sounding voice he could muster, he began to ask me for help. For money. I told him that I did not have money to give, that I could not help him. He continued to follow me though, working hard to keep up with my quick steps. Behind me I could hear his voice, and I could hear his footsteps intermingled with the click, click, click of his cane on the stony ground. I didn't look back at first, but it began to affect me as I thought about this young boy struggling to keep up with my steps just so I could give him a few franks. I could hear him following me, following me, and as I walked on that path beside a brick wall lined with wires and dusty flowers, there came within me a swelling anger; I felt like picking up the stones from the ground and throwing them against the wall. I felt like turning towards this boy and yelling at him "I CANNOT HELP YOU!" Not because I was mad at him, but because I was angry with how little I felt I could do for him and the people of this place. Because I felt like I just actually had nothing I could give this boy that would change his life. But I just kept on walking. In a few moments that clicking stopped. I turned around and saw him sit down by the wall and rest as I continued on towards the hotel.
While at the hotel I didn't strike up conversation with anyone, but that visit where I sat in the presence of bankers and miners meeting with other business partners, would play a part in my opportunity to visit the gorillas three days later. However that's another story entirely.
I left after an hour or two and then made my way back up the hill from Orchid which overlooks Lake Kivu. Now at a certain point this path from the hotel twists around to climb the hill in the opposite direction leading to that road with the brick wall, the dusty flowers and thorns and with David. He was there again, as was the quick click, click, click of his cane as he made his way across the road again towards me. I felt like that clicking was a hammer driving a nail into my heart, it hurt to hear it every time. Yet I prepared again to tell him that I could not help him, and that I had no money to give. This time he did not persist for so long, after I said that I was not able to give he went back to the big gate where a few other boys were sitting.
I still felt somewhat angry and frustrated with myself that I could not help him, that I felt like I had nothing to give. Then as I was walking I felt that conviction within me and some sort of voice whispering to my heart "Andrew, maybe you do have something else to give." I knew what it meant - why couldn't I at least pray for this boy? At the very least, why couldn't I greet him in a deeper way and ask to pray for him that day. I felt this strong on my heart, but by this time he was a fair ways back and chatting with his friends again. I rationalized reasons to keep walking, but I couldn't rid myself of the feeling. Nor could I rid myself of the thoughts of how many great things never happen simply because a good person refuses to act. How wonders will never be seen if people do not attempt wonderful things. How a sure way to have an ordinary life is to never do anything out of the ordinary. These thoughts kept coming and coming, until finally I said "Alright, I'll go back."
So, the first thing I did was stop walking. Then I pulled out my phone and pretended to call someone until several people passed me by. Then I wondered why the heck I cared about whether or not people see me change directions. Then I started to walk back to the boy.
I arrived there where the boys were sitting and muddled my way through some small talk. Asking one boy behind the big gate about the whistle he was blowing. Asking them their names, which is when I learned David's. Then finally asking David what had happened to his leg and he told me that he had been hit by a car. I guess it never healed properly and I could see how it was still deformed from the accident. Then I asked if I could pray for him, and he said yes. So I knelt down in front of him and put my hand on his leg. Almost as soon as I had began to speak I could feel tears welling in my eyes, a lump in my throat, and I could feel my heart opening to truly love this boy. I thanked God for David's life, I prayed for God's presence in his life and I prayed that his leg would heal quickly and that he would be able to run with the other boys again.
As I prayed I could sense a few other people gathering and watching. I tried not to be distracted, though I was feeling very self-conscious, and I tried to end with the most focus I could.
I finished the prayer, which I had said in English, hoping that God would speak to David through my actions as much as my words. And I think God did. Because when I finished I looked at David and he was looking back at me differently than he did before. I felt like he saw the love I was trying to show him rather than letting him see me merely as a source of money or free handouts. This was confirmed to me as well when one of David's friends began to speak. For soon after I had said amen, one of the other boys began to ask for money, but before he could even finish asking David stopped him and then just looked at me with that knowing look.
I don't know if David's leg will heal, I sure hope so though. What I do know is that at the end of the day I don't really need to see the signs and the miracles. If I can rest my head at the end of the day knowing that I did my best to selflessly love and to relentlessly obey, then that is enough. I believe that I obeyed God with my actions, and now He can do what He desires with them and if He wants me to see the results, I give Him praise. And if He wants to hide from me the results of my obedience, I give Him praise.
Since then I have seen David again. Sunday morning as I made another walk down Lumumba I heard a quick click, click, click of a cane on the paved road and saw David making his way towards me. This time though he had a beaming smile on his face as he came towards me. His leg was still the same, but his eyes clearly were seeing me in a different way. He didn't ask for a thing, but rather just wanted to greet me. I talked with him and few other boys (who did want something) for a few moments, however I had to meet some people very shortly so the meeting was quick and I made my way off again.
I wished that I had taken a moment to pray for him again though and hoped for another opportunity. This would also come later that day as I met David by the big gate again. I asked him more questions about his family and tried to get to know him a bit more, then asked if I could pray again and he said yes.
I've tried to walk the dirt road that passes the big gate each day in the hope of seeing him at least once more before I go and to have the chance to give him a small deck of Canada cards with a note saying something that I really want him to remember. I hope to see his beaming smile again. I hope to hear his footsteps without the clicking of that cane, but in all things I will give praise. I pray for that opportunity, and I thank God for that little thing. That little moment where He provided the opportunity for this heart to open up and to learn to love a little more. To believe a little more. To increase in faith. To be deeply affected by the clicking of pink, metal cane on the stony ground.