A few years ago I wrote about a visit by an Angel. This morning I feel like I got visited by an angel for real. Her name is Christine. The prose piece “ Angel Eyes” was largely based on a very vivid dream and today feels like I just woke up from a similar dream only that this time it wasn’t a dream. There actually is a gal called Christine and she was here in my room until late last night. Her presence still fills the room. I am trying to make sense of the whole experience with her; was it all real or do I just have a beautiful mind?
Nope! It’s all real as confirmed by a text from her as I write this.
The first thing that strikes one the first time you meet her is this great feeling of cheerfulness that she evokes around everything about her. In the way she says Hi to you like you are the most exciting person in the world, then you look into her beautiful bright blue eyes and you cant help but get drawn to the genuineness in those kind eyes and that’s even before she’s spoken anything to you beyond that Hi. She’s got one of the most genuinely attractive personalities I have ever experienced. Only the most hard-hearted can fail to fall in love with her charm.
This whole week has been generally about her. She stepped into my life and in a few days she has touched several bits of which I am that I am at a loss of what to really say of what she has done for me. It’s been inspiring spending time with her so am just gonna go ahead and just describe my time with her.
Christine has this amazing ability of simply popping up unexpectedly out of nowhere or so it seems. She is such a pleasant surprise every time she makes an appearance.
Our story starts a while back about a year and a half ago when she volunteered at ISU for a few days or is it a week, I don’t really remember. I don’t remember when it was but I remember how I met her.
I was on my usual business at the pool and at the time I think I’d just gotten fully employed at ISU. It was at the pool that I first noticed her. She was in the pool doing laps and my initial thought was that she is one of the high school girls so I immediately dismissed her from my mind. Anyways I knew most of the High-schoolers who occasionally popped by the pool for a short dip. It’s always unserious and lazy splashing around and more basking in the sun. This girl was different. She was doing laps like she meant business which intrigued me as a coach. I am of course interested in people who take swimming seriously so I made it a point to talk to her about joining the school team. She has a really great freestyle stroke.
Anyways later after school practice she was still in the pool doing laps as I got ready to do some practice of my own. She stopped long enough to meet me and that’s when I got hit by a ton of Christine Elsasomeness. I liked her immediately. That smile and bubbly high-pitched American voice totally turned my day around. I asked if I could join her work-out and was like ‘’sure’’ we went ahead to start a little chit chat; the usual normal stuff you say to someone you just met. She got to know about my National swimmer status and I got to know about her Love for Christ status in fact one of the first things she tells anyone the minute you speak to her is this love for JC which I found amazing and intimidating especially if you are a guy interested in a girl and suddenly you realize you have to contend and compete with the big man upstairs (Man??) himself for her affection
Either you back-off humbly or you stick around to discover just how awesome she truly is. I love to get to know people and of course I’d choose the latter anytime. After telling me about her love for JC and what she is doing around ISU she asked me if I was born-again. I said yes and she went ahead to ask me how I became born again. I must say that was the most distracted freestyle kicking session I have ever had. I mean here I was an unserious Christian trying to “impress” a girl I just met by telling her about how I was born-again! “Conrad what you doin?”
That was definitely not how I usually bonded with people I have just met but she made it so cool and for some reason I had no problem telling her about that part of myself especially since she’d immediately opened up to me about herself a little too. I was impressed by the work she is doing and her reasons for being in Africa. At the same time I thought she is not my type of girl. This girl is on a whole new ‘nother level. Basically I got that age-old guys feeling that signals when you meet a gal that is way out of your league.
Anyways after our interesting chatty work-out I asked if she was on facebook. She said No. her reasons being that she tries to avoid things that are addictive in nature. “Bummer I thought” coz I did want to check out a bit more of her background and interests. Something that facebook has introduced to we lucky people of the twenty-first century. I had to settle for an email address which she wrote down for me telling she was heading out of Uganda to do God’s calling in rural Mozambique. I promised to keep in touch and wished her luck. I did save her email address and sent her some mail to acknowledge that I had added her to my contacts. I got a reply a few weeks later then promptly partially forgot all about her.
That was almost a year and a half ago.
2 weeks ago she returned and reappeared to me as suddenly as the first time. I was in the gym waiting for my Kindergarten class and next thing I know is am staring at this gorgeous creature ushering the kids down the steps of the sports hall. My mind was probably slow in processing her appearance because I mistook her for another blond curly haired person; a parent who occasionally volunteered at the school with the EC2 kids. I was busy setting up for the next class when she showed up so I temporarily dismissed her until I had finished setting up. However it so happened that we were going to have our class outside the gym so after getting the kids down the steps I had to redirect them back up at the other end of the gym nearest the bathrooms to the grassy shaded area.
It’s only when I finally came out into the sun that I finally recognized who she really is and memory of her flooded back to my mind. It was her alright, as beautiful as ever. My day instantly transformed from the usual routine to an exciting even more fun-filled lesson. I hugged her hello. It was nice to see her again despite our long out of contact. I felt momentarily guilty of for not keeping in touch. She loves swimming so later that day I found her at the pool again.
Fast forward to the end of that week and we had reacquainted due to her regular presence at the pool. I still wasn’t sure what to make of her, she is a nice person and I didn’t know if I really wanted to get to know her more; I just found her interesting and I just kept finding her everywhere I was.
I must say last week was probably the toughest week of my month and the last thing I was wanted was a Christine Elsas. I had a serious deadline to meet with my online course; in fact all week it was the one thing I kept worrying about so I could not afford a lot of time to accommodate a great cheerful girl with all the things I had on my to do list. I had work, study, dance practice and the junior school inter-house swimming gala plus a friend to help out who was in need of my writing skills to draft an official apology letter.
Despite all this Christine still managed to engage me in short chats during my after school activities. So on Thursday after the swimming gala which was a lot of work but went well, everybody was in a relaxed mood and I just wanted to kick back and watch the kids enjoy free time in the pool. Christine was in the deep end doing width and somehow I thought- what the heck- and decided I should join her since I hadn’t had a chance to all week so I did. It felt so good since it was the first time all week I was able to relax and enjoy her company. I gave her a few tips on her butterfly stroke. It was a welcome distraction from all the duties.
I must say Christine arrived at a time when I was getting very acquainted to another great gal at school. Elspeth is one of the nicest friends I have at school and of late she’d been able to accommodate me more than usual especially over Sundays. Last week we were supposed to hang out with Smiley after church and I was so looking forward to that. So when on Friday morning Christine agreed to attend church with me and my friends I was very thrilled after all the more the merrier. In one day I was to have the company of 3 great gals. Unfortunately Smiley’s plans changed and Elspeth wasn’t able to make it to church which left me with Christine but when I got to church I couldn’t see her anywhere around so our get-together failed miserably and I was greatly disappointed.
However I had dance practice that night at the National Theatre and Christine had mentioned that she’d be there too for Salsa. What a nice coincidence! I hoped she would be there. She was!! I was delighted to find her among several people who seemed to know her from the last time she had been in Uganda. I promised to join her after my dance practice.
I had so much fun that Sunday night that all the disappointment I had had in the morning seemed not to matter anymore. Dancing with her made all the reservations I’d had about her start falling away chip by chip; I started to feel this deep connection as we swung to latino beats. We swung our hips, spun and danced unreservedly and laughed wholeheartedly. I felt touched by the goodness in her heart, I felt accepted and appreciated by her, I felt that the boundary that had separated us; my unworthiness and her purity- it connected and I got this deep revelation that we were different people on the same side for Jesus. Regardless of who we really are as individuals, I felt that just like her I am a child of God loved and accepted in a way that I have never been fully aware of. With her the presence of Jesus I felt. She is human just like me, can dance and appreciate all the little pleasures in life and still not be affected greatly by them because of the strength of her spirit. For the first time I held her in my arms as we danced and smiled because I felt comfortable doing that. It was okay to be close to her. I didn’t have to be afraid of what I might do to her or what she might do to me. I could relax and simply enjoy her company. And I did. I’d just made a beautiful friend for life. I know that people like her do not often come into my life. She is one of a kind and that’s what me want to cherish her more because for a change I’d just added someone that I needed to have in my life, somebody who sees the imperfections in me and still accepts them without judgment, embraces them and understands despite her standards. Somebody who chooses to see the best in people. I no longer felt intimidated by her, I felt safe and I could trust her. The more interaction I had with her the more I realized that only goodness can come out of such as her. I wanted to hold on to her and never let her go because she is indeed somebody I needed in my life. The more I found out about her the more I like her.
We did have quite a lot in common which at first I thought was not possible. Being with her just kept showing me how unserious I was in my Christ-like life compared to her not that I was trying to compare myself, I just couldn’t help noticing and this noticing was more inspiring than it was beating myself up. I just thought how I wanna be an example to the world about the beauty of Christ and what it really means to follow him. At a certain point I let her know of this; that I too want my life to be a living testimony of his grace and goodness just like hers was; I kept asking myself how did she do it, where does she get the strength and conviction to lead the kind of lifestyle she has. Little did I know that over the next 2 days I was about to find out.
Over the next 2 days I got to text chat with her; take walks hand in hand or with my arms wrapped around her shoulders and hers around my waist, skype, tell of each other’s plans, swim- I loved sinking to the bottom of the pool and watch her smile at me through the absolute silence of the deep and her curly hair floating all around her; meet and watch her interact with people; lose things, find things, share chores, take hot chocolate, lie together, hold and hug each other, kiss and caress her on the cheeks, touch her, feel her curly hair in my face, smell her, take a bodaboda rides late in the night, talk for hours on end, listen to some jazz music, read together, eat together, do shopping, take pictures, cross busy streets, have her wear my jumper, look at stars, gaze into her eyes as she gazed into mine, feel her heartbeat on my chest, I got to fall asleep to the sight of a text message from her late in the night, listen to her encourage me or hold discussions on what it means to be a man and the role of a woman in the household, contemplate our lives and what we are, what this means, what we are doing and how do we go on from here. She told me about the most special boy to ever get close to her and I told her about Jasmina, the gal of my dreams, we talked about our fears- what are we afraid of, we talked of childhood memories, I was complimented for pushing her to do something she was reluctant to do, she rode my high-seat bike from Watoto church to my flat and there I was shouting encouragement behind her as I ran to keep up with her much to the amusement of the people walking on the road and she pushed me to do something am usually shy to do and that’s pray with someone.
Amidst all this was the strong presence of our Lord and protector, I shared with her a lot of things that I rarely share with people that I have known for a long time even, I felt I didn’t need to hide myself from her or keep things from her, I didn’t want to have unanswered questions between us. I just wanted to give her me, the real me. I admit I did feel like doing something I shouldn’t at certain points of our nights together. I wanted so badly to take her in my arms and kiss her passionately, unreservedly with all of me but I didn’t because I knew it was not my place to do that and I respected who she is and I didn’t even know if I wanted to cross that line. Something told me that I might regret doing that and for the first time in my life I listened to that small voice of reason and went against everything that my body was screaming at me to do; To release the struggling male animal in me and claim this amazing vulnerable beautiful creature in my territory.
The most surprising thing about the last few days was that nothing was premeditated, everything just seemed to fall into place on its own and that’s what made it even harder because I didn’t feel like I was in control of the situation, I admire her strength to not encourage me to do anything I might regret, this strength and character is what kept me in check and I am thankful for that. I was able to maintain reason.
The things that I like about her is the way she made me think about things that I normally don’t contemplate; she does ask a lot of questions, big questions- she asked me what are my top five most important qualities I like in people and I gave her six; on skype I quickly realized that she has a quick wit and eagerness in her responses that I had which made it hard to sign off for dance practice which I was late for; during texting I could not stop myself from replying her texts and I liked the fact that she made me smile non-stop even when I wasn’t in her presence; I liked that she agreed to spend so much of her time this week with me and the fact that she didn’t mind hanging with me until late into the night; I like that she loves swimming like me and that she is very sports like in nature; she likes challenges just like me. She actually dared me to do something serious and scary and that I don’t know I can really accomplish but I said yes to her challenge because it could be the best thing in my life. I admire her strength to step into the unknown situations, her love for people; she greeted everybody she noticed the entire time I was with her, she volunteered to help out with doing my dishes the moment she stepped into my place, how many girls are that nice, my housemates were impressed, I liked that she seemed to know a lot of people I know, she is ready to help out wherever possible, she bought the shopping we had lost that day in the taxi which she really didn’t have to do and that touched my heart. I love her love for children and I totally admire the work she is doing.
She told me about her life in Mozambique and in the States and the not so nice situations in her family, her struggle for forgiveness and how awesome it felt to forgive her mom. She is sweet and honest and strong and even when she is weak she tries really hard to overcome it. I like the way she admits that she too has weaknesses even though when u look at her all you can see is perfectness. I just kept wondering how someone so young can be so affecting. She has the power to change the world, she has the faith that can move mountains, heal the sick and raise the dead. I was awed by her tales of the miracles she has been a part of. Through her the power of Jesus that made deaf and dumb people hear and speak and the blind person see. She is extreme, overwhelming and intense but at the same time she has this simple girl who could be just anyone aura about her which is so adorable and charming and it was amazing to experience while I was with her. I can’t stop thinking of her right now and I don’t realize it but she has probably changed my life.
I believe she is an angel from God sent to me for my sake. She is leaving for the States this weekend and I am going to miss her and I sure hope that one day I will meet her again.
Thank you Lord for Christine Elsas. A true angel, friend and inspiration, may you fill her with boundless blessings and may I never forget who she is and what she represents … you.
I saw you Lord when I looked into her eyes J