July 11: Today my heart is heavy.
Four years ago. World Cup Final: Spain versus the Netherlands. I was in Kampala, Uganda. On the morning of July 11, 2010 I heard the news that my friend and Invisible Children intern Nate Henn lost his life in the terrorist attack that struck the city the night before.
I had plans to meet with him and a team from Invisible Children in a town called Gulu in northern Uganda the next weekend. I think about a lot of things that could be different. Would we have braved the Kony 2012 storm together, lived side by side, and would I even be here at TWLOHA now?
But, there is one thing I think about most, and that is what it means to be a volunteer. Today is a day that I take step back to thank and appreciate our interns. The people who sacrifice a season of their lives to give to others.
A volunteer wears both a smile and humility on their heart. The smile of knowing they made a difference in someone else’s life; humility for the mystery of never knowing their true impact. Humility for never knowing if your emails make it in time to those struggling with thoughts of suicide; for not knowing what happens once someone walks away from the TWLOHA tent at a music festival. Humble and always hopeful that, although mysterious, your role is the light that shines through at the darkest hour of the night. That was Nate’s legacy. It is yours too. Your stories are intertwined.
Little did you know his picture hangs in the main hallway here at the TWLOHA office. I give it a glance everyday and smile.
Today my heart is heavy for a short friendship, and a beautiful life taken too soon. For every other day of the year my heart is light, knowing that good always wins and that so much of it was achieved in Nate’s short life.
It helps remind me that I must keep fighting, I must keep going, and I must never give up.
Interns: you remind me of that too. You remind me of the heart of the matter. You remind me of my friend. For these things, today, I thank you. I honor you.
In Memory of Nate Henn: