I couldn’t possibly be more enthusiastic about sharing our BIG NEWS than I’ve ever felt with previous developments in our ministry. Sure, it was fabulous to welcome the first children to our home in May 2012, and to welcome Ryan in the fall and Marvin this year in January…but… the very first child we invited to join our Kirabo Seeds home was denied by his pastor. We hoped to open our home with him! That’s a very long story and I’m saving it for the memoir I am writing. What is significant and wonderful is finally after a year of prayer, hope and patience on the Lord….Fred has joined the Kirabo Seeds family. He spent his first night with us last Friday.
I would like to revisit our story with Fred. Long ago after we adopted our daughter Kira, she is now 3 and a 1/2, though she was only ten months old when we laid our hands on her. During her adoption we got involved with children who were in the care of a local Pastor. We found sponsors for all of them to go to school within six weeks of returning home from our adoption. That’s when we began our nonprofit to help orphans in Uganda. One of the children used crutches, and that was Fred. When he was a baby his mama died in childbirth and his father threw him out the window. Literally. The community took care of him all his life. He followed his pastor from the village to the city because no one else would feed him. In his sixteen years, at that time, no one gave him the opportunity to go to school.
We did. He was sixteen, using home made crutches given to him by the pastor, living with a sound mind in a body afflicted with cerebral palsy and useless legs. Fred was willing to hobble on crutches for a mile to go to first grade when he was sixteen. He wanted to learn.
Let that sink in for a moment. There is more spirit in his determination than I meet in a party of executives in corporate America. Immediately I was devoted to this young man. If I had never laid eyes on him I would have loved him for his drive, but when I saw his smile that reached each ear, and understood why his eyes could not focus on me like his brain desired I LOVED him deeply. He took my breath away. With everything in me I hoped to change the course of his life. I begged God to use me for the good of this boy.
He reminded me of Veronica. She was the reason for my first mission trip when I fell in love with the people of Uganda and heard God whisper in my heart: this is where I want you. She is physically deformed because her mother tried to abort her twice with witch doctor methods. She sat with useless legs for many years of her life and lived with unspeakable pain until she had the opportunity to go to school and everyone discovered her brilliant mind! Now she runs the first pregnancy crisis clinic ever opened in Uganda. She devotes her life to helping women to choose God’s plan over their own desperation. She’s helping women save their babies from the trauma she endured. God had a plan for her life, and I believe in the same way God has a plan for Fred’s life. I BEG him to use us to realize this plan.
One thing I will never forget is when we brought a medical mission team to Uganda in 2010. Our teens on the team spent a lot of individual time teaching Fred to make friendship bracelets. He spent all day tying intricate knots with his hands. He learned it quickly. There were strong brains in there! Oh he is smart! We were excited. So many times he didn’t have help preparing for school, and he would stumble in the pit latrine when no one was there to help him, and his teachers would chase him away from school. He did not get the encouragement he needed. He endured. He has persevered more in his short life than ten people with great struggle will ever know. And yet…he has that smile from ear to ear. He must live with a heart of joy I may never experience. He must know God is sitting there holding his hand every day.
Last summer we were given resources enabling Fred to get physical therapy at a local hospital that was a mission project run by western doctors. In the middle of his therapy his pastor ripped him out of the care because he didn’t understand the process. At the same time we had no choice but to part ways with that pastor. That’s another long story saved for the memoir. We asked for custody of Fred to help him and provide for his special needs, but we were denied. Oh my goodness we mourned this loss. We feared he would sit and decline as he did.
We prayed. We waited on the Lord. A year went by. Two weeks ago I asked Phiona and Robert to go visit and see how Fred was doing. A few people continued to inquire about him so we followed through feeling it was God’s way of prompting us to step over difficult boundaries. It was a miserable scene in the old place. All of the children went back to the village. But Fred remained and he was in a homemade wheelchair. When Phiona asked the pastor to give us custody of Fred again, this time he was willing to let us care for him. Last Friday Fred moved into our home. On Sunday the custody papers were signed. The whole universe seemed to sigh in that moment for me. I think I felt God wink at us. If I ever did one thing with my life that I can say it was so worth it, this will be it.
We had a talk with all of the children about his special needs, and they were so enthusiastic to help take care of him! Immediately they were drawn to him and eager to help him with anything he needed. They we eager to wash his wheel chair, which was filthy. These kids scrub my shoes as soon as they leave my feet! I wish my own children had the same impulses. Phiona told me on the first night she left him smiling and eating a big plate of Auntie Julie’s food. He’ll be out of that wheelchair in no time with her cooking and our excellent nutrition provisions. When he gets his strength back, and after he has settled into the comfort and love of our Kirabo Seeds home we will assess his readiness for physical therapy again.
We don’t want to push him towards discomfort. We’ll wait for him to say I want to walk. We’ll teach him and encourage him to believe he can, but he has to want it more than we want it. I remember him crying in pain with the former therapy and we don’t want that to happen to him. We’ll consult friends who are doctors. We’ll go slow. We’ll do it right for this bo
Meanwhile, Kiah can work with him and decide how best to approach his education. I am hoping we can teach him at home for awhile to customize it for him. We want to celebrate his efforts and never ask him to face the shame he once faced because he had the desire to learn. I believe God will provide. I know Fred and God are BFFs.
Won’t you just smile as widely as Fred smiles thinking that finally he is in a secure place of love in his life? It doesn’t matter how old he is now, he is beginning his life from here! Would you consider praying for him? Be an encouragement for him? Soon we will need to find sponsors for him to get he care he will need. First, he needs to learn and feel how much he is loved…as far as the east is from the west. And then we will ask Fred, “What do you want to do with your life?” I bet he has some good ideas. I can’t wait to find out what it is.