Eight years ago, I taught our oldest children when they were just in P4 class. I remember thinking, "Lord, I can't wait to see what these children will be like when they are 18 or 20." And then the Lord allowed me a glimpse in a really special way through living with these 10 children at Tendo for a month during 1st Term Holiday (though they are not yet 18, but close).
Enjoy the tour.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Thursday, June 4, 2015
WOW! The Lord is truly Worthy of Worship as I stand amazed looking back on the past two months and all that the Lord accomplished (and allowed our hands/efforts to accomplish).
As many of you know, we recently received 12 new little ones into the Lulwanda family. This was such a major step of joy. A team of 6 (including myself) spent over a week travelling to many areas in and around Mbale, sometimes up to 1.5 hours away, with the purpose of visiting and confirming the situations of children that had come to our attention through the pastors of the various Presbyterian churches, the government, or ministry friends. I had the privilege to visit each of the 22 households and meet the 28 little ones. Truly, there are so many desperate situations that people are living in everyday. It was not an easy process to narrow down who was the most helpless, needy, and vulnerable. They all were in some regard, but we knew that we had an opening for ten. Trying to set emotions aside, we followed a guideline put out by the Ugandan government describing children in the most “critical need.” But in the end, I am confident that it was the Lord who hand selected the 12 children who joined our family on May 5, 2015. (That’s right, TWELVE, not ten!)
|Jiggers are a big problem in the village.|
|Someone's bed and "blanket"|
There are a few wonderful God stories and Truths that the Lord reminded me and ways that I saw Him move on the behalf of a few specific children:
WOW 1) We were on the third or fourth day of visiting children and this was one of the days that we had travelled the farthest. On bumpy dirt roads, with the red dust begging to enter the van, dodging potholes or goats that might be in the way of a smooth, straight path. I remember passing through a rice patty and then stopping in an area that was near where we were going, to visit the sibling of two of our current children. After a 10 minute conversation with some local men to try and locate where this migratory family might be settled at this current season of life, one said, “Oh, I think my aunt knows there.” So we drove off the main road and onto a smaller, less travelled path. After reaching the Aunt’s house, she guided us down an even smaller road, deeper into the bush. Then we made a turn onto a footpath until the vehicle could simply not pass any further. We then proceeded to the house by foot.
And there I was. Deep in the middle of the no-where, where a car has never passed and only feet could reach, all in search of one little boy. I was struck at the obviousness of the situation. The Lord knows each of us, specifically. He knows our name. He knows where we are. He knows our needs. He knows the deepest joys and sorrows we have faced.
And now here we are looking for this one boy. The Father knows this boy. And when the Father chooses you, nothing can stop Him. I am sure we passed hundreds of worthy, “critical need” children on our way to find this one boy. But the Lord had chosen him. God can move mountains on our behalf. He is able to do anything! There is a song we sing at church here, “Our God is able. Our God is able. We shall sing Hallelujah, amen!” He is the Shepherd and I am His sheep. My God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above ALL that I ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
WOW 2) After making all the village visits to ascertain the true stories and situations of the children, the “Social Inquiry” Team sat down to select the 10 children we were recommending to be brought into Lulwanda. It was a hard deliberation because there were 28 children who all could benefit from being at Lulwanda, but we had been tasked to select the total orphans and most “critically needy”. I gave the summary reminder of each child as I held up their photo and the Team discussed. We had selected eight children and had a number of them that we were to discuss again as to who would fill the remaining two spots. One member suggested one boy, but I held up two photos, suggesting these two for the last two spots. The team discussed and deliberated more and filled the 9th spot with the other Team member’s suggestion. One more spot. Ugh, this was so hard. So, I held up the two photos again, one of an older boy who would likely be too old next year if we were to put him in the “follow-up” category and one of a little one whom we were already availing relief to their family by taking in his two brothers and who is top of the list for next year’s intake of new children.
Two photos held in the air. One spot remaining. And the Senior Probation Officer (top leader in regard to children’s homes) say, “Na-talie, you choose.” Another team member agreed saying, “Yes, you choose.”
WHAT?!?!! I am in a meeting with the two top government leaders specific for LCH, LCH Admin., John, and Mama Aidah and they have all agreed that I choose?! Are you kidding me?! So, I remained with the photo of the older boy in the air, confident and in awe of how the Lord had moved on this boy’s behalf. This is his turn around. His life has changed for the better and it is already so evident in his countenance, even in the past two weeks.
WOW 3) Even after the Team had decided our recommendations of the ten children to enter Lulwanda, the Lord was still at work.
A ministry friend had brought sisters to our attention. Though this friend had tried to find alternative care for these girls, things were not working out. During the social inquiry Team’s deliberations, we had made alternative care plans for these girls. So, in desiring some answers to give to our ministry friend, I asked what boarding school could take a 4 year old for nursery class and the answer was none. We realized we had suggested an impossible care solution for these girls. The Lord had brought them back onto the discussion table.
In the meantime, even after our selection, we received information of 4 other households who claimed to have total orphans. From the office administration, we sensed the Lord still at work, so we went to investigate these stories and found that two were genuine and in critical need.
So, it was back to the “drawing board.” And in the end of our second deliberations, we couldn’t firmly select just ten. We recommended nine and had four that we needed help from the American board to decide the last child, to make ten. And as you know now, there were 12 selected to join our family this year. Our numbers were increased. Man makes plans in his own heart, but the Lord directs his steps. -Proverbs 16:9
WOW 4) Though the selection process was finished, everything was still not final until we had the medical screenings and court hearing. I can’t tell you the joy I felt after the doctors reported that all 12 children are HIV negative! Oh, thank you Jesus! And the court hearing was so smooth and simple. We were in and out in less than 10 minutes.
That evening we went with the 12 to Lulwanda for their first night. There was so much excitement on the campus. I am sure the little ones were overwhelmed but our older children and all the staff present were thrilled to welcome the new members into our family. One staff member commented, “I can’t remember the last time we had such joy and excitement around here.” Oh, the Lord is so good!
The new 12 are doing really well. They have mostly settled into life there. Each new child has an older child that is their “mama/papa” that helps them. It is really sweet. They have all started school and you can already see such a difference in their health and joy. Hope restored within them! Faith increased within me!
Here are some more photos to give you a glimpse into the lives/surroundings of most people in Uganda.
|A kitchen in one of the homes we visited|
|Preparing to put a thatch roof on the house.|
|I was given a chicken at one of the homes I visited.|
|You often find big groups of men sitting in a circle around these pots sipping local brew through their long straw.|
|We were welcomed into each home with a very warm greeting.|
|You walk your dog. He walks his goat.|
|Not sure I would want my child attending this school :)|
Oh the names people come up with.