Early in October, 2010 my good friend Veronica, from Uganda, stopped at our home for a visit while she travelled in America. She runs the only pregnancy crisis clinic in Uganda. Our church has assisted in stabilizing her ministry so she can stand for life in a place where abortion is as common as putting out a cigarette with a shoe. I am always eager to get her talking about her culture and the thinking that happens behind the practices of the people. I crave a better understanding of how her culture churns because it is after all the homeland of the daughter we are adopting. I fell in love with the people of Uganda last year when I visited for the first time, and it remains a hungry love. If I understand then I can pour out my response to assist their hopes to grow and improve.
One of the women who was on that mission trip with me, Mary, has been working with Veronica for five years to establish the stability of her pregnancy crisis center. Mary offered to pick Veronica up at the airport and bring her to our house. Jack heard this and he cleared his busy baking schedule and play schedule to ambush her with a warm loaf of bread as she drove into our driveway. Mary chuckled at his bold approach and told him he’s going to be a millionaire before he turns twenty. She bought two as she inquired, “Jack why are you selling your bread?” Then he told her in Veronica’s presence, “because I want to help children in Uganda to go to school.” Veronica nearly passed out because she lives with the heart ache of knowing children who are smart and eager to learn but have to be told there simply isn’t enough money for school. In her own childhood when her father died and she was without means to continue her education she remembers tearfully sitting at home with nothing to do but sink into a deep depression. Her uncle eventually helped her to obtain a scholarship for handicapped children so she could use her bright mind. Personally, I cannot fathom looking a child in the eye and sharing the disappointment of a stunted education.
Before Mary said good-bye to Veronica she invited Jack to bring his bread that Sunday to her adult bible study classroom where he could meet the “money-changers” who will exchange his bread for money to further his cause. His little face brightened and his smile revealed his heart. We did go to her class for three weeks in a row where the adults were happy to hear his story and buy his bread. He was a little man approaching former high school head coaches with confidence, and executive business men with his story. We could only shake our head and shrug our shoulders because we aren’t sure how he arrives at such ease with adults at such a young age.
Veronica sat with us at the table that night and shared some of the challenges from her year of work. One heavy matter on her heart is one of the women who serves with her, her best friend, has been very sick with AIDS the past year, spending many times in the hospital with pneumonia. She has two sons, one who is seventeen and one who is ten. She works as a volunteer counseling young girls about their pregnancies and teaching them about Jesus.She has extremely limited resources. Shes’ a single mom, sick, and without salary doing the work of God faithfully. I can imagine how her prayers cry out for help and it makes me slump into a deep sadness to know her suffering. Even though she has many problems, her faith remains solid. Veronica then shared with us that this was the first year that her son Andrew would not be able to go to school because there was no possible way she could come up with the 440 dollars it would cost. This grieved all of them deeply because he is a very smart boy, a good and eager student. It is such a waste to see his potential amputated. They had fasted and prayed and begged God for a way to get this boy into school but when school began just weeks before this visit there was no answer.
Jack nearly jumped out of his chair at the table. “Miss Veronica, I will pay for Andrew to go to school this year. I almost have enough money already and after I visit Mary’s class I am sure I can pay for it.” There was a pause as we all felt what had happened in that moment. This was the answer to their prayers all those months before. Veronica shed a few tears and took Jack into her arms for a big hug. She said,” I’m going to send an email to tell my friend right away. Oh, they will rejoice!” Jack was able to give her the money necessary to pay for Andrew’s first semester. When she arrived home on the fourth of October, Andrew began school on the sixth.
Sadly while Veronica was at the table with us celebrating this good news Andrew’s mama went to the hospital again, but this time with meningitis. When Veronica returned to Uganda it was to visit her in the hospital where she was in a coma for eight days. When she came out she was not able to see. They were desperate to get her out of the public hospital where she had to spend several nights sleeping on the floor until someone died and it was her turn to get a bed. Our church helped her transfer to the private hospital so she could get better medical care. She is slowly recovering. And she knows that the little boy Jack will soon be traveling to Uganda and she is eager to hug his neck and thank him for his big heart full of love in response to God that is able to spill out into the life of her own son.
Jack is eager to become friends with Andrew when we travel to Uganda for our adoption. He also told us, “Mom, it isn’t so hard to raise money to pay for his school so is it ok if I sell pumpkin bread every year so Andrew can always go to school?” ABSOLUTELY!
I remain in a state of awe each time I think of how God works without borders. He sees the whole world as one while we see this country and that one. God took the prayers of women in Uganda and then used a little boy in America to answer them. This experience gives me stunning admiration for the love, power and provision of God. It has also taught me to understand what having “faith like a child” really looks like, and now it is my prayer that I will walk and seek for myself to grow faith like a child.