The familiar call of the rooster somewhere in the distance informs me I am not in my bed in Texas. I roll over and it is Kira by my side, not my husband, and I muffle a giggle because she can snore just like him. I miss him already. People shuffle by outside my window happily, casually using a tongue of foreign exotic words. The heavy iron gate rolls open and the voices fade into their day as I rise into mine. Sunlight steams a warm glow into my apartment, three slumbering travelers remain still in the other room. It would be perfect if there were a big dog sleeping with Jack and two ragdoll cats curling around my feet.
But the dog here is at the children’s home and he’s spent the night patrolling the wall while children sleep. He is trained to devour anyone foolish enough to enter our courtyard in the black of night. The cat is there too working for Auntie Julie to be sure there are no mice in her kitchen. Food is a precious commodity here and we don’t wish to share with rodents. At this hour the children are awake at the home entering their day, taking a jog with Uncle Robert, and beginning the Saturday chores. They are on holiday so there won’t be a half day of school today. They are absolutely taking bets on how tall Jack has grown, how sassy Kira will be for her mama, and what in the world does Kevin look like now? It’s been two years since Kevin has found himself in Uganda with us. That American high school has a tight grip on him. And my assistant, Hannah, joins us. She has blonde hair to her waist and I know the sight of it will cause them all to gasp. It won’t take long before they run their fingers through her flaxen mermaid hair with childlike wonder.
Last night at midnight Kenny, Phiona and Robert greeted us at the airport. Jack climbed on top of the van and arranged our thirteen boxes of goods for the kids as quickly as Robert passed them up to him. While we situated ourselves into our home Kira set the table for a tea party and demanded her toothbrush be found this instant. Somewhere around two all were asleep and I took the first bucket bath in a few months before slipping into my white sheets with clean feet. Stretching out onto a soft bed with warm covers and a fan blowing is a delight after two nine hour flights sleeping cramped and upright with a sprawling child on my lap.
On my desk is a four inch stack of files. This won’t be a pleasure trip for me. There is much work to do. I have learned over the years that I concentrate three months of work into a short trip and these projects will last the team until I return. My arrival is always met with a great relief as some unraveling edges are repairs saved just for me. Orphan care isn’t a romantic rescue of needy children like the big organizations advertise. No one looks sad until we show up. They were survivors with hard eyes when they came to us and they will continue to survive with or without us. Orphan care is fraught with trauma, opposition, hurts, and unruly emotions. The least of our worries are funding, as significant as it is. We are concerned about the thieves carrying blades who throw rocks at our dog at night. We pray against enemies spreading rumors to dash our community reputation. There are men who visit the witchdoctor to buy a wish for our van to erupt into flames and turn over with all the kids in it. It is a heavy burden, so heavy with the varied mix of trauma each child carries from his past. With two years in a safe place they are beginning to try and heal and their needs for help are shocking. Each child faces a mountain of healing to climb relying on all of us to help them find the way because this is a place where there are few resources to help children who hurt. In fact there are almost none. However there is a prison for children though, as if it is already too late to help, just send them out of sight.
My promise to God is to stand in the gap for these children in our home. They will have their own bed to sleep in, not worry if there will be food to eat when they rise to greet each new day, they will be educated, and when they are sick they will visit the clinic. Most importantly we reach in and touch the inner man and woman of each child and teach the ways of God. We set boundaries and help them learn to live inside community. We love lavishly and we persevere. When it gets hard we ground ourselves with faith to endure. When there isn’t a way forward through a trial, we search until God shows us the path. He always provides a way. These are his children they are not forgotten or lost. He has a purpose and plan for each one and we remain through the storms to help them find it.
It’s true; if God had told us in the beginning the sort of boot camp he had planned for us to get fit for this job we might have been scared off. But we would have missed the opportunity to deepen our faith and trust in God and see miracles happen. We would have missed that incomparable feeling of ending a day knowing we’ve spent more of it on someone in need than on ourselves. We are making a difference but the storms on this sea can be terrifying. That’s how I know for sure God goes before us and prepares us for each new task because me, on my own, in my strength, I would have perished and faded away with the first mighty crash. Like waves of the ocean these trials roll in. All we can do is ground ourselves in the promises of God and truths of the bible and learn to persevere.
I’ve been quiet for many weeks. I’m sorry for that. Trials can sometimes stun me into silence. I retreat and wait. I pray. I think and share with Craig. I fall into the living word of God to show me the way forward. We serve a faithful God whose love endures forever. He’s lifted me up from my slump and dusted me off. He’s squared my shoulders in the direction we should go so I’m happy to stand tall now and return with a voice for the children at Kirabo Seeds in Uganda.
Every time my bible fell open on the plane I found myself reading Hebrews 12. In verses two and three it felt like God was whispering in my ear: “ Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”… “~yes Lord,” I whisper… “here we go.”