It has been a while since I have blogged and I realize it is because writing forces me to pick one or two stories. There have been so many wonderful stories that God is working in that it has been hard to pick just one or two. Today, three stories are on my heart.
The first story is bittersweet. It is about a JaJa and her love. Last year, I developed a relationship with a little boy and his grandmother. Richard is three years old and lives at Amani Baby Cottage. Amani Baby Cottage is the orphanage in Jinja that HEAL teams work with and a place that we have fallen in love with. Richard lives there and is well loved and taken care of. His mom and dad both died of aids. His Jaja is sick and cannot take care of him. She wants what is best for Richard and sometimes that is the hardest decision to make - to allow him to be adopted to a Ugandan family. The interesting thing about this is that Amani has reunited as many kids back with their families as they have adopted out. In the perfect world, every child would live with his family. In the perfect world, Richard Jaja would be able to keep him. Seeing the love and tears flow down her cheek was difficult to watch. God allowed us to feel her love and pain in a very special moment sitting outside her home. Outside her home where she has buried all five of her children. She said that she wanted Richard to have a family. She wants him to be loved and to grow up educated knowing Jesus. God knows the plans for Richard and as we start researching and praying, I would ask everyone reading this to pray also. Prayers for God to reveal His perfect plan. A plan that will cause a Jaja sitting in a village alone to think about Richard and smile. A smile that will cause her heart to be filled with hope and love.
The second story is a happy story. It is a story about an orphanage called Ekisa. Ekisa has special needs children and is another orphanage that HEAL teams work with. Last week, my family and the HEAL interns took the children swimming. The joy that the children bring to us can not be described.
They are so happy in the water and God is revealed in each smile. We celebrated the birthday of Debra with ice cream after the swim.Debra lives at Ekisa now but she used to live at Amani. When I think about Debra, I think about how she has been blessed to live in two of our favorite places and how God has used the mamas to show love to the least of these.
The third story is a sad story. It is about a little boy named Marvin that went to be with Jesus. Marvin lived in the third orphanage that HEAL teams partner with. Marvin lived at Canaan Childrens Home. He was bitten by a dog and developed rabies. The sad part is that during the school holiday, Marvin went to the village to be with extended family and the situation turned bad quickly. He was not looked after and died. Marvin was only 5 years old. He is now in a better place but all his brothers and sisters at Canaan are sad for the loss. Abandonment and death are common subjects that children here face daily. In a world that is not perfect, I am thankful for the three orphanages here in Jinja tonight that provide a place for children to sleep and eat and to feel loved.
These stories make me realize even more the need for HEAL to continue to work with families. To see the entire story of each person and to help them where they are. It makes me aware of how all the young women in our programs are doing the hardest thing of all, keeping their babies. We need to continue to teach them how to stay together, how to survive and how to have HOPE in the process. And when there is no HOPE in staying together, HEAL Ministries will still reveal the only true HOPE that is in Jesus Christ. May we all learn to live together and love each other well no matter how the stories unfold.