I sat there amidst the many.

Overwhelmed, my mind raced. It was like a thousand hearts had found their way to mine in the blink of an eye. What could one ever do to prepare for this?

Many had walked for hours just to see us. What brought them there? ..to find hope? What brought me there? ..to offer hope?

Behind each face was a story. “What was theirs?” I pondered.

With no translator, it was just me. Sitting there on the grass under a hot sun, I was surrounded by children. I mean, literally surrounded by children. So much so that my glasses began to fog up as sweat began to pour down my face.

With bracelets on their wrists, they began their wait. It was day one of our medical clinic near the Burundi border in Southern Rwanda.

Everything happened so quickly. One moment I was standing there trying to grasp what I was witnessing and the next.. I’m sitting there amidst these sea of faces.

“What do I do?” I quickly asked myself.

I then smiled what must have been a nervous smile as I looked at these precious children that sat before me. Amidst the scars, the wincing eyes, and what seemed like blood streaming down the face of a little one like beads of sweat from underneath the hat they were wearing, my heart stopped.

I had never felt the burden of a thousand prayers in a single moment before like I did right then. I had also never said a thousand prayers in a single breath before, either.

Sitting there staring at one another with all the curiosity of I can’t even begin to describe, the music begins to play and with this, the children began to sing.

With no hesitation and without even knowing the language in which they were singing, so did I. How could you not?

With this, my heart began to beat again.

If only I could sing over my circumstances like they were singing over theirs. If I could, perhaps I could find hope, too.

This makes me wonder… maybe I got this all wrong? No, I know I got it all wrong. Perhaps what brought them there was to offer hope and with this, what actually brought me there… was to find it?

I am singing.

Photograph taken by Gunnar Simonsen