Sandy Kegel

bible teacher, writer, artist, nanny, speaker

29

4

Voices (project 1) Juju (project 2) Meaning (project 3)

   Why are you doing that to yourself?  That voice was fading. I’d extinguished it many times before. It used to be loud, convicting. I took another hit from my home-made hookah and sucked in deeply,  numbing the voice. Good stuff.
Someone came by and handed me a vodka-and-something. The room was out of focus—shifting shadows, slow moving beings, dim light.

Meaningless. Empty.

Whose voice was that?   Mine?

“So, whataya gonna do after graduation?” Kayla asked, eyes half open, draggin’ on some weed. She wasn’t looking at me. But everyone else was moving slomo around the room away from us, so I knew she directed her question to me.
“Dunno. I gotta get outta here. I wanna travel. Save the world. College isn’t for me. You?”
“Screw college! I flunked half my classes. I’ll prolly go stay with my dad in Californy. Weed’s legal there.”
“Cool. How do you think that’ll go—seein’ your ol’ man when he hasn’t given a shit about you most of your life?”
“He told me to come. It’ll be cool.”

Yeah, I gotta leave. This life’s no good for me.

“Hey, Joey has some super grass up at the bar if you want a poke...”
I get up off the couch to light up with the others.

Headin’ over the ocean. I’m with a team from the states. First time ever on a plane, and it’s 36 hours to South Africa.  The air pressure dilutes the sounds, as if I’m in a cave listening to the hum of voices around me. My insides are having a party without me—anxious, fearful—yet excited about the journey. My head hasn’t been this clear in two years.

Uncertainty.

Shantytown. I sit with my back to the wall of corrugated metal fencing that separates the orphanage from the village huts. My heart is lacerated. I look at the poverty, the nothingness.  The eye-crusted, lice infested, motherless children race around me, half naked, playing games in the dirt. They don’t know their poverty. I rip a wedge of an orange and hand it to JuJu, a little  girl with the largest smile and big dark eyes. Her hair is braided close to her scalp, each braid tipped with plastic colored beads. She takes it and runs over to another girl playing in a mud puddle with a stick. She motions if it’s okay that she gives it away. She has nothing, and gives it away.


I’ve learned so much here. These people have so little, yet so much. I want that.
My team,—I love them. They have a zeal for life that I’ve not experienced back home. They love me, no strings attached. They love serving.
 Love. That’s who they are.
 They’re different—real. They laugh, cry, they have full hearts. They dress like me, some with tatts and gauges. What’s different, is the abundant life they live. There’s no dullness in their eyes. Light shines outward from within them. Selfless.

Meaning.

His voice.

Yes! Purpose. When I share their world, I feel most alive. When I ache with them, eat with them, play with them, serve them.  
I decide. This is what I want to do—to bring life and meaning to others. To use my hands, my feet, my lips to speak life into the soul of another.

Your eyes sparkle again. Your heart is beating the tune of a different land. Your own soul sings again.

I recognize that voice now. Once distant, an echo of Sunday mornings. Lost to teenage temptations. Empty desires. Drowned out by other voices. Resurrected through significant existence.


See Juju? That is the fruit of a life well spent. Your life for hers. Look at the fields. Ripe for harvest. Are you for hire?

 Yes.




Project Two: Juju 

300 words

  

  She was left for dead even before she was born. Mama had aids, papa had aids. The whole community had aids—the country was pandemic. The rest of the world was pandemic too, apathetically speaking.
I had aids...of the heart. I was part of the global pandemic. Until Juju.
She took me by the hand and led me to a mud puddle. I saw something reflected there I didn’t want to see. But now my eyes were opened. My heart imploded within me. There was a stark realty to what I had and wasted, contrasted to what she didn’t have and gave away. Being in her world took me from mine.
She was naked, but for the wide, bright smile—those ivory teeth set against the ebony skin and cole black hair, braided and tipped with a colored bead. I was fully clothed, but naked before this child, exposed to an unseen world—naked even, to the confrontation of my soul.

I had given her  a slice of orange. She ran and gave it away. Back she bounded towards me, so I gave her another. She popped it into her mouth, golden juice dribbling down her chin,  her gigantic grin revealing great pleasure in ordinary things. Or was it? An ordinary thing?
She put her spindly little arms around my thick neck and kissed my cheek with her wet lips.
I fell in love with Juju. I fell in love with her people, her country.

The mud-puddle reflection takes me to a crisis of decision-making.

Back home I had a sturdy brick house that the big bad wolf could not blow down.
It was full. Except of the important things. Death resided there.

Here, I have nothing. But the important things.

And that’s all that matters.

 Meaning (project 3)

Dark brown eyes, her ivory smile seized my heart. Her ebony skin and protruding rib cage fed my starving soul with meaning and gave me back my life.

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