Nearing the end of an AMAZING trip, I'm so glad God has arranged some "alone-time" for me - which would have been the last few hours and tonight.
Just to have the freedom to process some of what I've experienced - material that you'll read about for the next little while, for sure...
I am soooo devastated - and touched, both at the same time.
Have been crying my eyes out for most of the afternoon.
Didn't help that today I had my last (short) visit with our son Richard - saying good-bye to him is never easy.
But what REALLY got me today, was what I witnessed in a small 2-bedroom house in Kampala...
Before you read on, go back to this post, cuz I'm talking about his same single 24-year old beautiful Ugandan called Praise.
After entrusting her 10 children into the wonderful permanent care of the OKM family, she's been going back and forth from that family to Kampala, where she grew up and also has lots of ministry opportunities (doing music and youth ministry, speaking in schools etc about abstinence etc).
As we sat around the pool the other day (she came specifically just to watch her kids have fun in the water, it was such a treat for her to see them having so much fun - you can see her photo in the post about the pool - surrounded by some of her kids), she shared some more of her story with me - and today I visited her and the 17 children that God has brought into her small rented home since January .
Yes, you did read right - no typo - 17 children - since January!!!! (well, truth be told, some of the kids had been with her before but she was planning on taking them to some other families after taking the other 10 to Jinja)
She didn't want to care for children any more but pursue her music and other ministry.
But God had other plans.
He asked her to be available to take in more.
And they started coming
one by one.
Actually, there was a pair of twin girls that came together
She found them on the street after they had been raped
And took them home.
They are Kylie's age...
One little boy in particular immediately stole my heart and I picked him up and held him for the whole time I was there (photos coming after I get home).
Little Joseph (we are guessing he's around 4, nobody knows his exact age) was cuddling with me - just resting on me - it was so wonderful!
I loved every minute of it and would've loved to take him with me! He was the cutest little "thing"!
Joseph - that's what Praise named him, after he was found in a public transport mini-van, left alone, very sick.
She explained why she named him Joseph:
She believes that one day, he will be a great man, even though he was abandoned, just like the Joseph of the Bible.
His middle name is the Lugandan name for hope.
Hearing some of the children's stories while they sang and danced for me - I had to use all the self-control I could muster not to cry the whole time...
As I talked with them in between songs, I was mentioning the verse that says,
Even though my mother and my father forsake me, the Lord will receive me as his own.
I wasn't even quite done saying this when one of the kids quoted the exact Scripture, including the reference, Psalm 27,10 - - - (I didn't even know the reference)
I was - ahem - shocked/surprised - wow, these children know their stuff!
They proceeded to quote all kinds of other truths from the Bible...
So here's this single girl who - out of her meager earnings - rents this house and cares for these children. She has 3 people helping her. When I asked her if she pays them or they volunteer, she said, "They need money".
They live by faith, trusting God to provide for their needs.
She says, sometimes people bring by some food.
After all, she had come to her end with the first lot of 10 orphans!
And by law, she doesn't even qualify to have guardianship of these children...
Well, if I hadn't seen and gotten to know her other 10, I might have thought of irresponsibility to take on 17 more.
BUT - she has done a awfully incredible job raising those ones for the time she had them.
They are amazing!!!
Sooo - all I can do is take my invisible hat off to her
And somehow know that these ones, too, will be ok longterm.
They will be loved, cared for, know Jesus' love and healing power in their lives.
I guess what struck me particularly hard today was the fact that Praise is living out what I have been dreaming about doing most of my life.
She's ACTUALLY taking in all these abandoned children, off the streets!
Oh how I would love to come alongside her and help ease her burden!
That's the least I can try to do...
She's able to do this job SO MUCH BETTER than I could ever do, even if I tried hard!
They are in their country, culture, language, songs, dances... and LOVED!!!
One of the last things Praise told me (without the children hearing),
"Next time you come, you can take THESE children to the pool!"
Yup - sure!
If God allows!
But my hope and prayer is for much more support than just a trip to the pool.
I've got photos and video-clips of today, but am writing from a public computer.
Off to sleep now
Then one more full day tomorrow
Looking forward to it!
And then I'll fly out in the evening.
50+ hours of traveling, longest trip I have EVER had in my life - 4 different planes.
Thanks for prayers!