I am welcomed. So joyously. I walk up the hill to see this precious family that only a few months ago, I dared not dream I would ever see again. Jaja Tak came to greet us - so excited to see us and the child we brought back to visit. After greeting us, she immediately up and grabs a machete to go chop down matooke for us from the tree. My friend and I sit down on the hand made stools and begin to catch up a little…it has been so long. This family has been such a part of my story and life here in Uganda and holds a special place in my heart. This village, this home, this very dirt…was where my little girl sat a year ago. This is where her little body sat dying and wasting away. This front porch is where I came with friends and probation (child-welfare officer) to get legal foster care papers to bring my little girl home with me. I have been here many times before. And by the grace of almighty God, here I am again.
He comes toddling up. Malnourished. Dirty. Sad-looking.
He stops just a few feet from where I am seated. Stands there. and he stares at me. He is so precious. My heart breaks as I look at him – my little girl was found here. At the very same home. In a horrible condition. And if this little boy is not helped, he will likely end up the same way. I have seen it before…and I do not want to see it again. The malnutrition. The abandonment. The dehydrated legs and arms. The distended stomach. The starvation.
He is about two years old. His stomach is already swollen. His legs and arms already small. My heart fills with compassion. The friend next to me reaches out her arms as I sit mesmerized… “Not again, Lord. Not another one in this very same home. Not another child dying of malnutrition and lack of medical care.” My friend then looks at me and places this toddler in my lap. She begins asking the family about his story as I just sit and stare into his big brown eyes looking up at mine. His mother married my little girl’s uncle (her father’s brother). The man left her, for unknown reasons, and she couldn’t afford rent and food anymore. The mother came to visit the relatives and brought her child with her. After staying a few days, she got up in the middle of the night and left. She had planned it they said. She left her child and hadn’t been heard from since. The grandparents had been doing the best they could to care for him, but he was already malnourished when the mother left him in their care and he was getting worse. They didn’t have money for transport and medical care, but more than that, they couldn’t take care of another child – another toddler.
My friend looks over at me and I know what she is thinking. I know her well, and she knows me…she knows my heart. Her eyes and face say it all. She was there in the beginning. She was there…She was the one who carried my little girl through the trees and placed her in my arms the first time I ever saw her. I know what she is thinking. My mind begins racing, “No. I can’t. I just got back 2 weeks ago. I just got back! I’m still trying to get settled. My sister just left – I don’t have help. I already have 4 babies…I can’t take in another.”
A voice interrupts my silent conversation with myself, “JoJo.”
Suddenly, all I could see was JoJo. My little JoJo. His death still very fresh in my mind and my heart. Tears pool in my eyes as I think about that little boy I loved so much and lost so quickly.
I am still processing seeing my little girl again. Having her life given back to me is still overwhelming. I sometimes just hold her little face in my hands as tears stream down my cheeks and thank God. I still can hardly believe it.
I ask, “Can I take him in, Lord? You know the state I am in; you know my needs. You know the needs of my other children. Can I do it, Lord?”
“Amy, I can. With Me you can. You can. My grace is sufficient. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. You can. So do.”
So, what started out as a morning working on paperwork and explanations, soon turned into another child being brought into my home. Into my life. And into my heart. I opened my arms willingly. If this is God’s plan who am I to interfere? If this is God’s will for my life, who am I to question? When I surrendered all, did I truly surrender all or just some? When I surrendered all, I surrendered my heart, too. and not just my heart to God…but I surrendered my heart to be broken. To be broken for this world. To be broken for the lost. To be broken over the orphaned, the abandoned, the rejected, the lonely, the starving, the dying. To love…and risk. To love for as long as He wills, as deep as He wills, as hard as He wills. It is not up to me to choose. I surrendered the right of my heart a long time ago. My heart is His to use. As Amy Carmichael stated, “He said, ‘Love…as I have loved you.’ We cannot love too much.” I cannot love too much. The love that my Savior pours into me each moment of life I cannot fathom. I will never be able to love as much…so I must love as much as I can. So I willingly, joyfully open my heart once again. I bring this precious little boy into my home, into my arms, and into my heart.
During the hours after bringing him home, I contemplated his name. His name was a Muslim name and was difficult to pronounce and overall, I wanted him to have a new name. I knew that I needed to give this little boy a new name. I had been praying about it since the time I was sitting in the car carrying him home. JoJo was still very much on my mind. I knew how God had used that little boy in my life and even in bringing this little boy home with me. I did not want JoJo’s life to be in vain. And even if his life and death was just to be used to bring this new baby boy into my home, his life was worth more than mine probably ever will be. By JoJo’s death, he saved a life.
I wanted to name him after JoJo. JoJo’s real name was Josam. I couldn’t name this new little boy the same thing, or even think of calling him by the same nickname, but I knew I wanted a remembrance of JoJo. Several names came to mind as I thought and prayed that day, but suddenly God said, “Josiah. Call him Josiah.” And I knew it was right. Josiah started the same way Josam did, with “Jos”, and it seemed to fit this new little guy’s face. Josiah now makes number five. I can hardly believe it. God is so good. I know that His mercy and grace will be enough. It always is. We welcomed him in and we are thrilled to have him in our family, home and lives!
2 Chronicles 34:1-2
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and turned neither to the right hand nor to the left.”
My prayer is that my little boy will do that which is right in the sight of the Lord, and walk in the ways of his Father. If my little Josiah lives as the son of David lived just in these two verses…his life will be more pleasing to Jesus than I could ever dare to hope for. That is my prayer. I walk into his room, lift the mosquito net and stare into his beautiful brown sleeping face. I whisper this prayer over the child God has given to me as I also say, “Thank You.” I don’t deserve this kind of trust from my Lord…yet, he entrusts me anyway. I don’t deserve the life of a child to be placed into my care…but I am oh-so-thankful for it. and I am oh-so-thankful for little Josiah. That he might remind me daily to walk and live as I wish and pray for him to. That I may also do that which is right in the sight of the Lord, walk in the ways of my Father, and turn neither to the right hand nor the left…but may I keep walking the straight and narrow path that leads me right into the arms of my Savior.