On my first day at the unnamed hospital in Uganda, I met another little girl named Grace. I caught her out of the corner of my eye as I entered the children’s ward and was talking to another little boy.
She had a tumor coming out of the side of her face that, from my distance of 20 feet or so, was big and multi-colored and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. It was like something out of a science fiction movie. I don’t like science fiction movies. It scared me. She scared me.
But as I approached her bed, I noticed something else about her – her huge brown eyes, her big smile.
I looked into her eyes and for a few moments the tumor disappeared. All I saw was the little girl. I wish I could say that was all I saw for the rest of the time I was there but it wasn’t. I didn’t know how to get over the tumor, get past the tumor. So I didn’t. I just enlisted her help in a project.
Kim had sent along some packs of Emer-gen-C – vitamins that you mix with water to create a drink. I needed someone to help me mix up all the bottles. I took Grace.
We held hands as we distributed the bottles to the sick kids. I could not, however, bring myself to hug her or hold her. I wish I could have – I know I should have.
The next day when I returned she was gone and the last day I was there she was gone as well. I don’t know what happened to her. No one does.
Mother Teresa said she saw Jesus “in the distressing disguise of the poor.” I hope I didn’t miss the chance to hug Jesus.