update at 8:30 pm, wednesday: Sumini has severe malaria, please pray for her! Seein her so sick brings back many emotional memories for Momma...
Friends and Family (and stalkers, just kidding!),
This week has been a wonderful, hard, emotional roller coaster for me. I was hesitant to mention in my writing before that this week my brother, my dad and Ben will be here. Some of you know and some of you don't... Ben was my highschool boyfriend and though I am absolutely still in love with him, the fact that I have decided to live in Uganda permanently complicates things a little. I know people who follow my life closely are probably shocked to hear this, it is just not something I felt comfortable sharing. I have not blogged about this because when your life is an open book like mine, people sometimes feel entitled to say things that are unnecessary or far too personal. I was apprehensive about his trip here (he has been here before, but that was before I had children) and mostly I just wanted it to be a private thing between he and I and the Lord. As God would have it, Ben's time here has been more wonderful than I could have ever asked or imagined. I am so grateful for this time and will continue to trust the Lord with our relationship. I know that His plan is far better than my desires, and I am thankful for that. Thanks for your prayers. Anyway, since I am all a jumble of emotions, I decided to let Ben write this one himself...
I am sure that everyone who reads Katie’s blog has their own picture of what Uganda is, the work Katie does, and the people’s lives that are changed. My own picture of Uganda was filled with many mixed emotions. A part of me was thrilled that I could even have a part in this amazing girls life and could hear firsthand the fantastic works that God has done through Katie. However there was always another part of me that never could get a clear picture, it almost seemed National Geographic, it did not seem real. Now one reason was probably because of the history Katie and I share and how hard it is to be so far away from someone you love and admire so much. Maybe that’s what kept me from really understanding what she does and what drives her. Regardless of my lack of understanding in the past this week I have spent in Uganda has truly opened my eyes to the picture of Gods work here. It is Real.
The story I am about to tell is about a little Karomajong boy named “Michael” who we think is around 3. Before I try to explain in words the emotions and details of this experience I would like to say that this was one of the first times I have wept for someone. Katie and I were up at the school where she feeds hundreds of the hungry, neglected Karomajong children who nearly survive on the small bowl of rice and beans. Once we rounded up the mass of little faces Katie turned to me and said, “Where is that hungry little boy?” I couldn’t even begin to guess who she could have talking about. In the sea of hungry children how could there possibly be one that was so neglected he could stand out? Katie pointed to a small tree where a boy with short white hair sat. I had never seen a face like his. No emotion was in his face as Katie and I looked him over and gave him food and water. I sat next to him as his sad eyes surveyed the food in front of him. As he ate we saw small burn marks on his arm and feet so blistered and cracked I did not know how he walked. Katie told me children can only have white hair if they are deprived of almost all protein for more than 6 months. She knew he needed help and asked for his parents. Only the father came, because the mother was nearing child labor, and Katie asked if we could take him home and clean him up. Katie asked the father for the boy’s name, the father said he didn’t know it as a voice from one of the children said “His name is Michael”. He made no noise as we drove him to Katie’s house. Once there, I began talking off his clothes to wash him only to find more burn marks on his legs and back. Katie thought it was from his mother punishing him with burnt sticks. He asked to go back home, my heart broke as I saw this poor boy being washed for probably the first time in a very long time.
When I finished bathing him, Katie began to perform what seemed a small surgery on the boy’s feet. She started by cutting away the large piece of skin hanging from his heals and inner feet. Then she started to cut out his jiggers, a small bug that burrows deep in the foot, out of his feet. The boy made no noise, but tears were rolling down his face. Katie then began to cut the skin away so the rocks and mud could be dug out of the holes left by the jiggers. Michael wept silently in pain as the rocks were removed. I have never cried like I did when I saw this poor, so uncared for child going through so much pain. Once she had removed all the bugs, rocks, and egg sacs from his poor little feet, Katie ran to the bathroom and threw up. We bandaged him up, put a fresh pair of socks on his feet, and a pair of shoes to match. His face showed no emotion as I sat there holding him. I so wanted for some expression of relief or happiness to cross his face as he slowly rested his small hand on my leg. Michael’s face never changed.
Once in the car I reached into the glove compartment for some kind of treat to give my little friend. I had one sucker with a whistle in the handle. Michael watched me as I blew into the whistle “Wheeeee”. I slowly put the whistle up to his lips as the same noise came out, ”Wheeeee”. His eyes lit up and the round cheeks lifted to show his little white teeth for the first time … Michael smiled. I wish I could put in writing the emotions I felt when I saw the small glimpse of joy on his face. It was an expression I could tell had been hidden a long, long time. Everything finally made sense to me. I always knew the work Katie was doing and always was thrilled to hear about it, but the picture finally made sense. It made sense how someone could leave their family and move across the world, it made sense how someone could give their life to helping others, it made sense how Katie can wake up each day and be eager with excitement to do it again. In that one moment my life was changed. It was no longer just a story I heard, or photograph I saw… it was Real.
As Katie and I rode in the front we would hear the occasional “Wheeeee” and every time we would look back and see that precious little smile on his face. I carried Michael down to his mud hut on the back side of the mountain, to leave him with his family he was so waiting to see. His mother smiled as she saw him standing there, “He looks smart” is what she said. I so wished there was something else I could to for my new friend, I can only hope and pray that his parents will learn to appreciate and take care of him, and through that love and the love of Amazima Ministries he will learn the love that Jesus has for him.
I want to thank Katie and her family for allowing me to come take part in the Journey. This trip has truly been one I will never forget and will always be thankful for. You taught me what it truly means to serve others. You will always be in my prayers. I love you Katie.