Sometimes in the middle of the night my mind opens up and I lie there awake. I remember it is morning for our children in Uganda. I imagine where they are in their day. Are they slurping down their sweet porridge, dunking their bread into it? Are they brushing their teeth? Looking for a piece of their uniforms for school? Are they reading the books at the long tables? Who is mad at who? Who is the peace maker?
I can see their smiling faces. I know Desire would come looking for me, and use that cute grin to cause me to put down my work and pull him up onto my lap for a cuddle. I can imagine Lawrence with his big serious eyes observing an interaction between other children who don’t know he’s watching. Denis is an observer also. Quiet as my cat crossing the room, but he is soaking in everything he sees. His mind is cranking at full speed. Musa is the stirring stick, getting everyone going. The four girls will push and pull, make things happen, and boss until it is done right. Dickson will do as he’s told with a smile on his face. And Boniface too will whistle while he works. Peter, Paul and Daniel, they always stay out of main view. They are hardly ever front and center for photos, hard to find in the group, and always good natured. They act just like middle children, of whom my own Kevin is one of the best at cruising under the radar. Do your own thing and don’t make waves.
This summer trip was the first time I met the children in our home. I enjoyed knowing I could ease up on them and not land with full force. This is possible because I will visit them more than anyone else. I didn’t have to fit a few years into one trip. I can’t describe how excited I am to be able to return this fall by myself and devote all of my energy to getting to know them individually in a deeper way. Teach them about family love, togetherness, responsibility and helpfulness. I want them to know it is because of Jesus that everything in their lives changed. He did the same thing for me. Jesus changed everything. When I was 22 my greatest fear would be that my husband got religious and fanatical and we’d have to give up everything and go live in Africa. Ha!!
Not a day goes by that I don’t work for many hours trying to help raise support for our children in Africa. I think carefully about our team who work with the children and what I can do to help them be better at their jobs. I talk about my fourteen children in Uganda as much as I talk about my own five here in America. I believe helping to provide for these children is a privilege I have been given, and it is something I must share. I know there are many people in America who want to help but don’t know where to find those who need help, or who to trust with their resources. That’s why we have the sponsor program so those who need help can be matched with those who want to help, and maybe a relationship can be formed. We get to share these beautiful children with others.
Because these children first belong to God and I believe I am working for Him when I serve these children, I have perfect peace and faith that the help we need will come. The creative ideas I need will appear. When I look at the budget each month and wonder how will we make it work? I remember Dori from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming….” That’s what I do. I just keep swimming, or working, or doing my best without losing my life balance and I know that I know that I know it will all work out just fine. God will not forsake these children.
I was interviewed for a news article about our work recently and one of the questions was: What are some of the obstacles in doing this work? That was a good question. I’d say the main obstacle I face would be adults in Uganda who say they want to help me help the kids, but they really just want to help themselves to the hard earned, precious resources we raise and put it in their own pockets. Or as the Ugandans say, “eat the money”. They use it for their own personal appetites. It has happened to me in four separate instances, not just the one where we are in a legal struggle. I’d say the obstacle is trust, who can I trust?
We have struggled to help one particular boy who suffers from crippled legs, cerebral palsy and social neglect. I was accused of separating just one sheep out of the flock. It was said about me that I have a lot of money why don’t I use it the way God told me to do? Others will say, “there’s a lot of money to be gotten there, if you side with us, we can help you get some too.” And then there are the big liars who say something costs fifty, when it really costs ten, and then he “eats” the balance.
Whose money is it? It’s not mine. The resources that come from us are from God and he has a purpose for it greater than what I could do with it. God allows us to raise money to help the orphaned children in a country with desperate need everywhere, but there are none so desperate as a child who has lost both parents. That’s where we draw our line. At lease a poor child who has a mama can sleep in the crook of her arm for comfort if they can’t afford a meal. But what happens to the child who has no one with that sort of love? Well, I can’t help every suffering child, but I can do the best with those God chooses to give to us. And we are making them a family. We can abolish extreme lonliness and desperation for a few, and give them an Amazing hope in an Amazing savior.
And then, some children are separated from us, for God’s own purposes which I may never understand. But I trust God. I believe him in Romans 8:28 when he says, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.” It can hurt. And people say things that are false. When I think someone might apologize and repent, instead my character is attacked. My job is to, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”
I think I’m learning these problems will never go away. I thought we would have one big boot camp and then be safe. Now I am seeing what I should not focus so much on the evil that people do. I need to protect and save my energy for the good we can do, to God’s glory. That includes seeking justice for those who are vulnerable and have been taken advantage of in extreme ways. None of my fights are about my personal offenses or resources. All the battles are to protect the children who are most vulnerable from the predators who call themselves “friend”. And yet, I must not become hard hearted. I admit I have a ways to go before I can say that my heart remains soft. I’m calloused from much chaffing with the enemy. I need some spa time with Jesus in the throne room.