and then there was one.

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the nearly three weeks of silence on the blog. Several times I outlined an idea for a post, but the outlines always, obviously, went undeveloped as I tried to soak in Gulu. far my experience here has defied any attempt at categorization. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so negligent about blogging, but there are so many aspects of my experience here that I lack words to describe. Mine is not an uncommon complaint, and I’m still working on how to convey the soul of Uganda and my work. Thankfully though there is one thing I’m prepared to talk about in reasonably certain terms: friendship. It’s such a life-altering gift, I think, and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found real friendship already during the short time I’ve been here.

My fellow intern, Corrie, left about a week ago now, and I miss her every day. One of the best things about Corrie is her ability to simply let someone else talk, let them air out what’s weighing on their mind. Then, as unassuming and meek as she can be, she’ll whip out a sarcastic remark or wry observation that takes you totally by surprise and brightens the mood instantly. Without her, I would have had a much more difficult first few weeks, and I will always be grateful that I had the good fortune of arriving in time to meet her.

Then there was the unequaled Kristina Lai. Here for only a few weeks, she effortlessly imprinted herself on my heart. Whether it was showing by example the best ways to interact in the local language, taking me on beautiful walks through the countryside, or geeking out with me over life and dreams and hope and future after yoga, Kristina was (and is) easy to be friends with. I’ll miss her greatly, but I know it’s only goodbye until next time.

The most recent departure was that of a group of Belgian medical students. They were here for a month, all in separate home-stays, and I was so lucky to share my new home with Sacha, even for such a short time. Over the weeks, Sacha and I had great conversations on life, love, justice, and God, and he is the best escort I could ask for when it comes to a night on the town. All of the students freely and generously adopted me into their group, and I will miss our lazy afternoons of swimming, playing soccer, and talking as much as I will miss our electric nights at BJ’s. Through that group I met people who made me stronger, who made me laugh, and who brightened my days. They just left this morning, and my heart is still hurting in their absence.

All of these new friendships have left me equal parts comforted and saddened. I’m sad because I’ve had to say goodbye to people that I truly like, respect, enjoy, and care about. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them all again, though it’s impossible to suppress the hopeful side of me that says the universe would never allow such bright connections to go dark. These friendships have also left me comforted and hopeful. They’ve confirmed and strengthened by ability to both give and receive companionship, and the speed at which our bonds formed left me optimistic that I’ll find others in my time here.

I’m also beginning to realize that the human heart has no limit on love, as cliche as that sounds. I have friends at home who are more like family, who are my lifeblood, and my deep love for them isn’t diminished at all by the fact that I’ve made other friends who I also feel great affection for. There’s a lesson in this unique heart-expansion, the boundless ability to give and receive love, that, in the wake of so many departures, I’m going to try to take into my daily work: though I’m often surrounded by difficult stories and frustrating injustices, the human heart is capable of profound and ever-increasing love. If nothing else is going right, there is hope at least in that.

So thank you to everyone who’s come in and out of my life this past month. You’ve taught me about love, acceptance, joy, and hope, and if all of my friendships continue in the same vein, I’m in for a limitlessly rich life. I wish you all safety, happiness, and fulfillment, and I truly hope we meet again. Sooner rather than later.