By Chris Emert
It was May 2017, and I was on a long plane trip headed to Uganda. We were on our way to pick up three children and bring them back to Australia for surgery.
I’d been before, but this trip would be different for me.
Of course now I had some knowledge of what I was about to see, smell, hear, taste and feel – yet I think its fair to say that no two trips to Africa are the same, and every trip challenges me to my core over how we live, what we value, our level of faith, our prosperity and what impact we can have on the lives of others.
When I met Benson, he was dressed in his Sunday best. Black pants, white collared shirt, red bow tie. I observed a very shy boy. But all this changed, and pretty quickly really, as I embarked on a life-changing journey with him.
I observed Benson – smiling, singing, laughing and experiencing so many ‘firsts’… even wearing t-shirts! I remember pointing Benson and his carer to the travelator at the airport and watching their faces as they found the floor moving from under their feet…from fear to laughter in seconds. At ‘silly o’clock’ when we arrived in Sydney and went to the hotel room, we were throwing some of his new toys around in the room like rockstars, laughing and play wrestling on the bed.
Imagine how exciting it was for him to be tucked into these crisp white sheets in this huge bed in a hotel on the other side of the world, his brown skin contrasting with these white sheets. I found myself acutely aware of how many new experiences he was getting and wanted to observe his amazement and wonder in all that was new for him.
As I reflect on this trip, I find myself challenged by the gift of love so many gave to change these lives, not the least of which being the surgeons, medical teams, hosting families, and all who financially supported this mission. I am challenged on those days when I feel that my life is less than my dreams, when stuff goes wrong at work, or at home. I have a tool now – a gift if you will. It’s called ‘perspective’. Even on my worst day I have so much to be thankful for. I also have a couple of new brothers and a sister I will one day see again and celebrate with them in their gift of new life they now live.