A Thankful Heart
It's so hot in Gulu that I feel I might actually be losing brain functionality. Dry season. In Africa. Winds like the Santa Ana’s sweep through the town scattering dust into people's eyes. Nothing like a hot Thanksgiving in November to make you feel normal.
It's dry and it's dusty, but it doesn't hinder our progress.
We have a lot to be thankful for. In just the last four months…
*We've taken in 11 girls and 13 children from the camps into a home where they receive safety, love, a family, food, counseling, discipleship, life skills, parenting skills, medical care, and soon…vocational training
*Began a child mother support group in Awer IDP camp
*Girls and their babies received medical care that could have otherwise been life-threatening
*Girls got their feet washed and beautiful painted toes
*5 girls started a friendship with Jesus
*10 girls beamed after baking ginger cake
*Janet stopped having nightmares
*Stella forgave her father who abandoned her
*Josephine was healed of a blood disease
In the last four months I’ve…
*Killed about 1,000 spiders…two which were enormous and I don’t want to talk about
*Discovered that mice actually talk to each other because they live in my closet
*Been peed on 5 times
*Eaten about 20 kilograms of rice
*Painted a house
*Been called “mono” about 1.7 million times
*Gotten dirt on my face to the point that I looked like I had a really bad spray tan more times than I can count
*Wanted to throw about 20 computers because of the internet
*Done about 100 doctors visits. I shudder to think a child can actually die here of malaria—a preventable, treatable disease
*Learned about 4 more Acholi words my favorite which is "Amari"---"I love you"
*Loved when it hurt
*Been thankful for friends who listen when you need to complain
*Laughed harder than I can ever remember laughing
*Never felt so at peace that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be
We had a scare this week. Florence, our pregnant mama, was leaking amniotic fluid and we thought she was going into early labor. We took her to Lachor hospital where we waited for hours to be seen. It ended up that the baby just needed to be turned but she had to stay there for a few days on bed rest. We brought her food and everything she needed, but there was a misunderstanding on the day she was released. So poor Florence waited for us, and when we didn’t come her heart that has endured so much rejection and abandonment, resorted to anger. Such a normal, human response. We called to check on her and she said she was going back to Awer because we didn’t love her. I was crushed and told her to stay and that we were coming for her. But what I love most about this story is that Stella, one of my other girls---a real leader in our house---said she was going with me because she wasn’t willing to lose one of our family. And I realized that a month ago these girls lived their lives on their own, used to pain, used to disappointment, but now they’ve become a part of something they are willing to fight for. Something they love. So we hopped on boda’s at night and made the dusty ride at dusk to Lachor which is not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but we were women on a mission. As I sat on the boda praying that God would heal Florence’s heart and that she would forgive us, God reminded me of the story of the lost sheep.
"If a man owns a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away will he not leave
the ninety-nine on the hills and go look for the one that wandered off? And if
he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one than all the
others who did not wander off." Mt 18:12-13
And He told me that the way I would drop anything to rush to Florence at the thought of losing her, is the same way He feels about us. I wanted to cry on the boda but I thought it would just make the dust stick to my face even worse. When I saw Florence, I threw my arms around her and told her sorry over and over and she held onto me and smiled.
The happy ending to this story is that Florence is home and she’s forgiven us. Baby is fine. And by Christmas I hope to be holding a tiny, Acholi baby in my arms. We have a lot to be thankful for.
We mess up. We drop the ball. Sometimes we're running after that one who is lost. And sometimes we’re the wandering sheep. But we have to love enough that we'd be willing to run after that one. That one who is wounded. That one who is hurting. We have to be willing to drop everything for that one. And somewhere inside of us, believe that God would do the same for us. Sometimes, we still feel a little lost. But we are still believing.