The first day I went into the Treasures Class (special needs) for music, I stepped inside and immediately felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know any of the kids and didn’t know how to act around them. Some can’t speak, some can’t move on their own… it was awkward for me because I had no idea what to do, how to communicate, if I should try to communicate!
When everyone was seated around the table, Hannah was given a warm welcome by everyone. Then one of the teachers asked in Luganda, “There’s someone new here, who can show me who it is?” Some of the kids didn’t exactly know who she was talking about, but immediately, from across the table (I was somehow seated behind a few children somewhat obscured from view) this boy leaned over with this huge grin on his face, looked me in the eye, and pointed me out, calling attention to me. I couldn’t help but be amazed at how quick his reaction was… and how bright his eyes were. This is Daniel.
If just anyone were to come into that room and observe him from afar, all they might see is a thin boy whose movements aren’t conventional. They would hear his slurred words and perhaps avoid him because of his differences.
But I beg to differ.
As I’ve been visiting the Treasures Class over the past few weeks, I’ve watched Daniel and tried to get to know him a little with my limited Luganda. There’s only one word to describe how he’s affected me: captivated. When I watch him, I don’t see his jerky movements or the way he walks anymore. I see his eyes full of life, I see his goofy smile. When he talks, I don’t hear slurred words. I hear an intelligent voice which makes me giggle because he does sound funny, but not in a bad way. We were celebrating my friend Catriona’s birthday on Monday at Treasures Class, and as Catriona approached the building, the class cried “Happy Birthday!”; but Daniel probably could have been heard on the other side of Kasana, because he yelled it so loud, he was so excited. I just laughed and laughed at his enthusiasm. Yesterday, as I approached the building, he walked towards me, arms wide open for a hug and my heart practically caught in my throat. He has captivated me, and he brings me so much joy and I don’t know why.
Maybe because God’s trying to teach me something. Something about His character. God has created Daniel just the way he is for a reason. Maybe it’s to show me how goofy God can be, or how carefully he formed Daniel that way just to touch something deep inside me.
By Kara Peterson