For those of you who have been waiting...we finally know what's going to happen to Achuka! His daddy came to visit us this week and signed the paper for us to begin the legal guardianship process. He has wanted all along to take his son back but has been unable to find anyone who can take care of him. His wives have refused, and the grandmother tends to enjoy "tipping back on grandpa's old cough medicine", if you know what I mean :)
It was a hard meeting, knowing his daddy wanted him but just couldn't take care of him. He's been putting us off for a while, trying to find someone, trying to convince us that our home is the best place for his son. We finally agreed to keep him but under our own terms. We explained the adoption process as best we could and what that means for him and for Achuka.
This has been tough, and I can't help feeling like I'm taking his son away from him. However, we have prayed and prayed that God would work this situation out and know that His plan for this sweet little guy includes us. I am definitely feeling blessed to be allowed to be his mommy, hopefully forever. We continue to hope that our relationship with this family will keep growing as we raise Achuka and plan to visit them often in the village.
Please pray for us to find favor in the eyes of the local government. We are hoping to get legal guardianship of Achuka in order to travel with him, but we will need to foster him for three years before we will be allowed to legally adopt him. Right now the local government is not very thrilled with our visa situation and doesn't think we really know what we're getting into. We are praying that God will allow them to show us grace in this whole process.
We have appreciated your prayers so much during this time we have been fostering Achuka and continue to covet them in the coming months. Please continue to lift up little Achuka as we seek to raise him to follow hard after Jesus.
I am thankful to be writing this from the comfort of a retreat home in Jinja, Uganda. It
is green, wet, and restful. And I have to say, I need the rest. I feel like I've been wrung
out and hung up to dry.
It's not that I've been doing too much, it's that I've been trying to do less.
Less taking over and more stepping back...
Less "fixing" and more walking alongside...
I just never knew it would be so hard.
This week as I went back and forth to the hospital, taking care of little Ziada and her mama,
I met another mama with premature twin girls. They are the same size Achuka was at birth (2 1/2 lb.) and are perfect. No complications. Beautiful.
And wet...and freezing...and wrapped in a thin blanket on a cold cement bench.
My first response, of course, was to take them home. To save them.
"They aren't going to survive...they'll get pneumonia if they don't have it already...they don't
have a chance in the village..." I thought to myself. Not to mention that the mother doesn't have milk and has been trying to buy and boil cow's milk from the local corral. What are their chances, really? Slim to none.
So what should we do? Take them home? What about tomorrow when another baby comes...and the next day, another? We can't save all the babies in Karamoja...we just can't. There are so many.
I'm learning this week that I can't save them. I tried, and I failed. I wish I could, but I just can't.
All I can do is walk.
I can walk alongside...I can teach, I can model, I can love and cuddle, I can give value to each child's life. And this is so much harder. Walking is harder for me than taking them home. But this is what Jesus does for me...he walks with me. He holds me as I hold her, the grieving mother of the baby I could not save...he holds me as I give blankets to the mother of the beautiful, perfect twins. He holds me as I struggle to just walk...to walk alongside Him and to walk alongside them.
Please pray for these sweet babies, Achen and Apiyo, that they would grow healthy and strong, and that I could walk with this mother as she struggles to raise them. Pray for refreshment for us here in beautiful Jinja. But more than anything, pray we would just keep walking, putting one foot in front of the other, following in our Master's footprints.
Be encouraged that He is walking with you as well in whatever situations you are facing. He knows your griefs and wants to walk alongside you through them...He is so good to us.
About a week ago our friend Zachariah came to us to tell us of a mother in our neighboring village, Narikapet, who had a child that was not doing well. Kristi and I went that same day to pay her a visit. Upon arriving we found a 1 1/2 month old baby girl named Ziada. As we looked on Ziada's skin and bones, the mother told us that she did not have any milk and had been trying to feed the baby soya porridge. Suyana (the mother) is about 18 yrs. old, Ziada is her first child and she doesn't know the first thing about taking care of a baby. She is alone is Karamoja from a district about 6 hrs. away and is the cause of constant ridicule from her neighbors for her lack of motherly instincts and skills. Suyana shares the profession of one of Jesus' ancestors, Rahab, so she leaves the baby at home every night and returns in the morning. After spending some time with Suyana, Kristi gave her some motherly advice about how to take care of the baby and that same day we brought her a bottle and some formula.
A couple of days later Suyana was sick as a result of an infection from her C-section. Kristi took her and Ziada to the health center to be treated, Suyana for her infection and Ziada to get on a high calorie milk treatment and to have her lungs checked for pneumonia. After taking her to the hospital, Kristi came back the following day only to find that no one, no doctors, no nurses, no medical staff had attended to Suyana or Ziada at all. They lay there on the hospital bed exactly the same way as Kristi had left them, 24 hrs. earlier! As Kristi was sitting with Suyana, the nurses came around and began to berate her about being a bad mother (she had cut the tops off the bottles because she didn't know how to use them). While this is happening, Kristi notices that the baby is not breathing very well. She lets the nurses know and they respond that the doctor will be in at some point. Obviously no one is holding their breath since the doctor hasn't been to see Suyana since she arrived 24 hrs. ago. The baby's breathing gets worse, and there is no one at the health center there to run the breathing machine. Kristi decides to take the baby to Michaela's house for a breathing treatment, and it was there that Ziada took her last breath just minutes after arrival.
How do we make sense of this? How do you continue to look after the Suyanas and Ziadas when the health center won't care or pay attention to the people who are dying daily in front of them? While we know that death is a result of sin and a very unnatural thing sometimes you just have to thank God for sparing Ziada from a very difficult life and bringing her home to be with him. We thank God that he has allowed us to be a part of Suyana's life to show her the love of Christ. She comes from a Muslim family.
Be praying for Suyana. She has disappeared from the health center even though she needs treatment for a potentially serious infection known as Sepsis. Pray that Kristi will have more time with her to really relate to her the love that Jesus has for her, the love that sent him to the cross.
Old Modo didn't make it (see last post). He was too weak to be discharged, and in the end, too weak to even eat.
Since we were the ones responsible for taking him to the clinic it makes sense that they would call us to take his body home. Who knew that our car could also double as a hearse? A very short hearse...Modo was a tall man. I can't express the frustration in not being able to speak to his grieving widow. We sat with her as she cried and tried to just be there.
We hired men to dig his grave. They were finished by afternoon, and when I went to check on them it was apparent that the rest of the "funeral money" was used to "ease the pain", if you know what I mean. In other words, there were a lot of drunk grievers sitting around.
Modo's funeral was a bit better. They asked Kenneth to speak, and he did a fantastic job, as usual. His ability to share a relevant story on the spot with no prior notice is nothing short of amazing. He shared the story of Job...how God allowed suffering in his life because he knew that Job would be faithful to Him. And for those of you who don't know the end of the story, God restores all that Job had and more because of Job's faithfulness to Him. Good story...fairly good funeral, other than the fact that Modo is gone.
I wish I could say he's now with Jesus, but I'm pretty sure that's not the case.
I wish I could say that we spent lots of time with him while he was at the clinic...listening to the proclaimer (Bible on MP3), sharing the gospel with him...but that's just not the case either. We didn't do enough. Our time is obviously limited, but he should have been a priority.
But God is still at work despite our shortcomings.
After the funeral the family had a three day fireside vigil. Friends and family sat with them day and night while they grieved. Our gardener, Zacheriah, joined them and brought our proclaimer to share.
For three days and nights Modo's famly and friends listened to the gospel.
A gospel they may not have heard if Modo had not died.
Our God is a God of redemption. He brings beauty from ashes...every time. And slowly...slowly we believe he will bring hope to the hopeless...these hopeless, who struggle and hunger and beg and are profoundly ungrateful. His gospel is a story of hope and limitless love that reaches even to the outskirts of humanity to touch our brokenness and make us whole.
Please pray with us for our people...the Karimojong...that God would move among them powerfully
to draw them to Himself.