Alive

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Children squeal with delight as they hurl paint powder into the air. They are reckless in their aim and let it fly with abandon. It shrouds their bodies as it explodes into fireworks of colour. It splatters clothes, which are flung off; it speckles skin, forming a rich, proud contrast; it rains into open mouths and eyes; it coats teeth, transforming smiles into cartoonish leers. Opponents cough, sputter, and retaliate with fanaticism. This is war.

“May”, I marvel, “you are a genius”.

May, who has always dreamed of travelling to Africa, is making her trip count. Her unlikely idea transforms children’s laughter into paroxysms of glee - into veritable eruptions of colour. She is giving these children an experience they will keep forever.

In a sense, though, they do the same for us. Each day, fresh life seeps in and saturates us like tempera paint. During her first week here, May observed: “I thought I would spend my time here sad and feeling sorry for people, but I couldn’t have been more wrong”. Instead, we witness ingenuity, community, trust, and vibrant hope.

We unearth simplicity, which, I discover, is a key pillar to genuine joy. We stumble upon the essence of life itself.

We laugh. We develop community. We hear God’s still, small voice. And in the process, we find ourselves.

SPLAT. I receive a faceful of magenta that speckles my cheeks and scalp like fiery eczema.

Here, I am truly alive.

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