One Solid Human Bond

One Solid Human Bond

bond with foodHaving just returned from Uganda—the pearl of Africa—I could tell you how lovely the land was following the rainy season. Flowering bushes, trees laden with mangoes or jackfruit, and lush garden plots seemed like Eden restored.

God speaks through creation’s resilient beauty.

A visit to the bank took my husband the better part of an hour, when at home it would take ten minutes. I sat with our driver David in the hot car, listening to a blaring sound system on the street. Animated voices spoke in a native tongue as though preaching, taking no breath.

The sidewalks teamed with activity—people selling grilled goat kabobs at our windows, the destitute pleading, women with babies strapped to their backs, motorcycle taxis whizzing by, a man with at least eight foam mattresses teetering on the back of his bicycle, and another with a huge stack of bananas. The kaleidoscope movement was ever changing, colorful, and even beautiful, yet there was something about their day-to-day survival that humbled me. I easily obsess on disparities.

This time, however, I asked God to help me be present in the day and leave the weightier concerns to Him. For me—that is growth.

God speaks in fresh ways when I am outside my familiar world.

bond of marriageIt became clear to me that I was really there to be with my husband, Duncan. To see, hear, taste, and understand the chin-deep work he’s been in for fourteen years—caring for vulnerable and orphaned children.

bond of needsRequests multiplied with each phone call, each knock at the door. I experienced the wearing down he feels when people constantly angle him for money…there was this and that and what and where. It remains a constant tension because the needs are real, but also the deception. Lies are a handy tool in a poverty culture. He’s had to be acutely discerning.

There’s the headache of things not working—the maize grinder, the vehicles, the power outages. Or the neglect of the tilapia pond and the garden—tending that requires constant attention to reach a reasonable goal. Of course I can’t really know what it’s been like for him, but I felt the sacrifices made.

bond with studentsI could tell you about visiting our sponsored kids at their boarding schools—kids we’ve walked with for ten years. They’ve passed through the fermenting angst of early adolescence into an awareness of what they’ve actually been given—a chance at a better life. Sidonia will soon be a nurse and Aber Nancy, a tailor. Awaka Alfred will obtain his license to drive commercial trucks, and many will come after them thanks to our sponsors.

bond with orphansI could tell you about all the new and shining faces at our primary school in Kasozi Village. The little ones were so painfully shy. They greeted me, extending limp hands and saying, “Most welcome,” in barely audible voices. Yet as the days passed, they soon forgot themselves, joining in a game of Duck-Duck-Goose and giggling as I scrambled to my feet for the chase.

What a joyful time.

There’s much more, but what really moved me was a simple thought…

bond of welcomeOn this trip, I was reading, Housekeeping, a novel by Marilynne Robinson that “illuminates the price of loss and survival and the dangerous undertow of transience.”

I mention it for this reason:

The author says that when a child forms one solid human bond it feels like “sitting at night in a lighted house.”

bond with lost child

Those who do not make that bond, who watch from outside looking in from the darkness toward the light, see all the difference between here and there. They spend their “lives watching and listening with the constant sharp attention of children lost in the dark—what to make of sounds and shapes, and where to put (their) feet.” They are furious with hunger, loneliness, and longing.

And that is why God ordained marriage, families, fathers, and mothers as the context of life where no child would be lost in that darkness. Still, brokenness abounds, parents abandon their children, and families fall apart.

joy of bondAnd so in my view, the true work of Uganda Orphans Fund and the capstone of my husband’s efforts is to give that one solid human bond that welcomes a child into a lighted house where the greater connection with God can carry them into the fullness of why they were created.

The rest are just details…


To learn more about our work, make a donation, or sponsor a child, visit


  1. the analogy of the one solid human bond and the lighted house is unspeakably powerful in its truth. and your further word picture of a child sitting outside in the dark looking in the windows brings it all home. it’s a home they want so desperately i can’t truly can’t quite imagine it. we sit here in our safe homes, blessed with so much and yet we complain. i think your and duncan’s choosing to accept god’s path for you is astonishing. the success stories with these children or even just ONE child makes a difference for eternity.

    and the wrap you wrote, “the rest are just details…” geez.

    thanks for painting us such a clear picture of your work with these orphans. and thanks for committing so much of your lives to them.

    suzee B

  2. Virginia Hallenbeck :

    Thank you for sharing, Susan. I remember well the frequent requests for help while we visited at Kasozi Village. And I agree, while we deal with the issues of the day, we need to trust the rest to the Lord of all who is capable and willing to handle it! But, we also need to remember and be thankful that He has granted us the privilege to be his hands and feet AND be a part of His great work.

    I do hope that someday we may meet. Hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

  3. True, true, true! There are many levels of this truth as well. I remember my connection with my grandma when I was a child, and it was a very different connection than what I had with my parents. Not better: different, and profoundly valuable. One summer a distant aunt took me home in Wyoming with her for a week that changed my life. She didn’t do anything different from what my mom did with me, but I’d only met her once before, and she treated me as if I was precious to her.
    As I write this, I think of various connections over my 6 decades, many of them brief, many lasted, but they were so easy for the connectors, so casual and spontaneous! They would be perplexed by the value I received from their kindness. They would wonder how I would remember these after decades of real life.
    The obvious application isn’t lost on me, and I delight in intentionally blessing children whether I will ever see them again in this life. Possibly my brief loving connection will weigh more than I know, and I will see them in the next life.
    Thank you for this motivating post. Blessings!

  4. I reread your post and when I got to the little limp handshakes, and I instantly relived the awkwardness of my total dorkiness in response to the loving people in my life. Such a pathetic little dweeb with messy red braids and big feet! Yet they treated me as if I was normal and lovable. Amazing grace!

  5. Kimberly Todd :

    Thank you for going and for writing! What a powerful picture of the lighted home. Dear Jesus, show me how how I can help bring in the children.