Tuesday, May 31, 2011



Safina smiling after just a few days of 
food, milk, medicine and a lot of love

 Joy...happy girl

Donna still sick but on medication. 
I wanted to get her picture in the cute strawberry hat, 
but didn't want to move her...this was my attempt to improvise.

 Josiah...trying to be the man of the house 
but i think he found it difficult in the white and pink shirt


Safina

 Joy

Dinner time with family and friends! 

Mommy made American pancakes for breakfast :)

 My little flower 




Baby Donna

Baby Donna's first few days in our home. Our precious little bundle grows bigger and happier by the day. She is still so very sick, but is on medication and 24/7 care from Mommy and Aunt Betty :) ...and many other tiny helping hands. We continue to love on her like crazy and pray for complete healing. Thank you for your prayers!

Our precious "baby doll" in her stroller
 The stroller is just her size...thank you, JaJa, for sending this from America!

Aunt Betty offers lots of love and hugs. 


 Our little strawberry







Monday, May 30, 2011

perfect peace.



“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.”
 Isaiah 26:3-4

So many thoughts racing through my mind this morning. So much I want to say and I just don’t know how best to say it, so much I'm trying to think and I don't know how to even think it. As my Bible lays open before me, my Jesus speaks to my heart. He continues to pour into my soul - into my spirit - into the deep places where I long for Him. The places where He knows I MUST hear His voice to make it through another day.
“Whose mind is stayed on Him, He will keep me in perfect peace.” Because of the trust - in Him. The peace that follows trust in Jesus. THAT is the perfect peace. The prophet goes on to say for us to TRUST. TRUST in the Lord. Trust. For therein lies your strength. In my complete trust in the Lord, THAT is where not only my perfect peace lies, but also where everlasting strength resides. In my Lord.

And oh, the ways He chooses to break through my thoughts - thoughts of doubt, uncertainty, pressure, responsibility, confusion - He comes breaking through into my soul speaking the most beautiful PEACE over me. He comes this morning singing His sweet song of PEACE. Not letting me continue with the thoughts and cares of this world…but He takes me to the places of the Divine.
The place of divine peace.

“You will keep him in perfect peace…
Whose mind is stayed on You”

On HIM. And Him alone.
If my mind is stayed on my Jesus, it can not possibly be stayed on the cares and concerns of this world. There is no room for worry, doubt, stress, concern in my mind, heart, and soul if my Jesus is there filling it completely up with His peace. There is no room. And I must not give it room. The only room in my soul must be for my Jesus. (by the way - a sweet blessed friend of mine calls her Savior, “my Jesus” and I absolutely fell in love with it. He is her Jesus. He is my Jesus. He is your Jesus. He is our Jesus. Because He IS Jesus. J So…just a random tidbit since I keep writing “my Jesus” not wanting to be exclusive but completely inclusive - He is “my Jesus” to everyone who will let Him be so. So, just a reminder to let Him be “my Jesus” today. Just calling Him “my Jesus” brings Him so close to my heart and draws me even closer to my Savior.)
As I come to my Jesus and pour out my concerns, my worries, my needs…and the needs of so many others…

“PEACE.”

As I try to add up figures, and draft legal documents, and deal with landlord issues, and take phone calls about more babies in need…

“PEACE.”

Oh, the cares and worries of this world that so easily come and steal our peace. But oh, and the peace He pours into us when we keep our mind on Jesus.

“You will keep him in perfect peace…
Whose mind is stayed on You”

…………..
Oliva comes in from outside and I see the tear stains.
I ask if she is ok…and immediately the tears fall fresh.
Baby on one hip, bottle in hand, I hurry to her side and wrap her in a hug with my one free arm. Through the tears she says she’s ok. I know better.
I tell her I will listen…she knows…lets go talk outside.
Five babies laughing, crying, playing, crawling all around us…and the world is still for us. This is us. She and I…and Jesus. He is there every moment.
As I wrapped my arms around this precious daughter of the King and tried to speak peace to her heart, the King wrapped His own arms around us and spoke into both of us His perfect peace. Two daughters of the Prince of Peace - sitting with hearts bleeding, wounds open, both so desperately needing to be engulfed with His love and peace.

She is now seven months pregnant.
The baby is a girl instead of the thought boy. Complications. More potential issues with family, friends, etc.
The baby grows bigger by the day…and with the growth comes more difficulties. Oliva has asthma and has had trouble with her breathing for many years. As the baby grows bigger, breathing is becoming more and more difficult…and for her, more and more scary. As we sit and talk, the worries and fears come spilling out of her.

“What if I die giving birth?”
“What if I really can’t deliver this baby and I don’t live?”
“What if I can’t breathe and my body can’t take it?”

The tears just stream down her worried face.

“What will happen to my baby if I die?”
“Who will raise and take care of her?”
“Who will tell her about me - about her mother – after I’m gone?”

The tears stream down my face.

“What if my baby dies?”
“What if she doesn’t make it?”

I hold her as we both cry.

“I’m not settled.”

This precious younger sister in Christ…staring the reality of death straight in the face.
She is having to face these fears head on. Wanting to be strong…trying to hold up…but finally letting the dam break with all that has been swarming through her mind. Needing Jesus to bring peace.
I ask myself - how does one face death? Those dying that know their time is near to leave this world? My mother called me the other day about a family friend that has been battling cancer who even now might already be with Jesus. She has been facing death. Preparing. Waiting. Expecting. Thinking…so many thoughts. Thinking about what her life has bee…the legacy she hopes she leaves behind. Thinking about her children…living life without their mother. Thinking…about her husband living the rest of his life without her. thinking…about all the fun times she will no longer be here for. Thinking…about her family walking through the difficult places without her. Thinking…about her husband and children dealing with her death after she is gone. My heart breaks for her family. Breaks for her husband. Breaks for her children. The ones she will leave behind. She is heading to heaven…to meet her Jesus. To wait for them there. The joy. The sorrow.
And I ask God “How? How do we do it? When our world is turned upside down? When death is suddenly a serious reality? When we are facing leaving our loved ones behind ad leaving them…for now? When all of life seems tumultuous and out of control?”

“You will keep him in perfect peace…whose mind is stayed on You”

I have not faced this yet in my life…this imminent death. Yes, I never know when I will meet my Jesus face to face and am ready to do so, but knowing the timing could be so soon because of cancer or a difficult pregnancy…this is a different situation entirely. Knowing death is coming or may come very soon gives time. Time to think about life. Before death, after death. And yes, this time and this thinking can bring so many fears.
Fears that only the Prince of Peace can alleviate. Fears that only He can completely wash away with His PERFECT peace.

As the time grows closer for Oliva to give birth she needs peace.
Not knowing when death will come. Not knowing if death will come. But needing to be prepared. Needing Jesus to bring peace.

Death. Life.
Such serious topics that we all face…we all think about…even when we don’t want to. Jesus was there with us as we sat. He heard it all. The cries. The worries, the doubts, the fears. He held the tears in His hands. He held us close. Always our sweet Savior…showing up exactly at the right moment, and giving us exactly what we need.

We talked. And we prayed. And we discussed the possibilities…and possible solutions to a few of the fears. We talked about practical ways we can make things easier for her on that day. Saying goodbye…writing letters. Writing a “Will” of sorts. Who we need to talk with before the birth. We talked about different options…we talked about what all can be done beforehand to help her “settle” - to help bring some peace.

But oh, the peace we need. The peace we crave. The peace we long for. The peace that our souls simply yearn for - That is the peace that only He can give. The peace that only He can bring. The yearning for that perfect peace that only one Prince of Peace can satisfy. I know this. I know where my peace comes from. And yet, the battle still rages for me to stay my mind on Jesus. As I sit here…writing these so serious, heart wrenching words - wills, last goodbye letters “just in case”, talking to important people, plans for the baby’s future without her mother - here I am writing these words and the tears fall. My mind is screaming, “Please, Lord, no! No! Not after all you have done here! Please spare her life! Give us wisdom! Save her baby! Save this precious little baby girl whom you already know by name! Save this little family!”

And yet, there it is again. Me getting frantic, me worrying, me not trusting.
Me needing peace.
Perfect Peace.

“You will keep him in perfect peace…whose mind is stayed on You”

“Stay on Jesus.” I tell myself, “Stay on Jesus.”
I tell Oliva, “Stay on Jesus. We’ve got to stay on Jesus.”

We remember. This is not the end. No matter what happens. This is only the beginning - a vapor compared to the eternity that is to come.
And so, we pray. We trust. We surrender.
We stay our minds on Jesus.
We accept His peace.
We receive His peace.
We glory in His peace.
We REST in His peace.

His. Perfect. Peace.

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” 
Isaiah 26:3-4

Saturday, May 28, 2011

pictures :)

Baby Donna and Aunt Betty

Amina pushing Baby Donna in "her" stroller

Baby Donna getting a kiss from Aunt Betty

Josiah

Baby Donna

Baby Donna - smiling for the first time :) 

Oliva eating dinner - on the floor against the wall 
as we always do until God provides furniture! 
with pillow and sheet - this expectant mother is happy.

Baby Joy - 
not happy that Mommy is taking photos and putting on her diaper. 

 Baby Donna ready for bed

Baby Joy - smiling :)

Friday, May 27, 2011


One of our first smiles.
Thank you, Jesus.








 Amina

Mommy and Baby Donna


Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Right in the sight of the Lord"


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.

“Amina.”

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. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Donna Kisatye

…………..

She heard the vehicle pull up near her hut. It sounded like a big one. She heard the excitement…the shouts of “Mzungu! Mzungu!”
“That must be them,” she thought.
She pulled the shawl a little tighter around her frail shoulders and shifted the baby in her lap.

They had told her they were coming. Someone had agreed to take her baby and help her. Someone had agreed to keep her baby for her – her baby who was also slowly dying.
She had no other choice. She was dying. Quickly. The HIV had already taken over so much of her body. She was deteriorating fast. She knew she didn’t have much time. So when the people offered to find a place for her daughter…she didn’t hesitate to agree.

She heard the voices, the people talking. Asking questions about her, about her baby girl. She heard the local council asking what needed to be written for legal documentation.
She heard. Oh, how she wished she could see. How she wished she could see the face of this stranger that she was giving her baby to. How she wished she could see the face of her baby…probably for the last time. How she wished…and yet she knew that these thoughts would only remain wishes.

How she wished she could have at least seen her precious daughter’s face. Seen her eyes. Seen whether she looked like her mother or not. Oh, she had felt those eyes…and felt them many times. She had felt the little nose and mouth, counted each of the tiny fingers and toes, and held the little body close to her at night.

Sometimes, she just really wished that she could see. Most of the time it was ok- she had learned to use her other senses to make up for it, and God had been good. Other friends helped her…and helped her with the baby. But sometimes…she just really wished she could see.
Now. Was one of those times.
How she wished she could see this white lady – how she wished she could see her daughter one time before she was gone.

But it was not to be.
There are some things that God takes completely out of our control and this was definitely one of them. So, she listened. She heard strange voices and could only assume these were the people. and apparently one was a mzungu. Yes, she thought that they had said a mzungu would take care of her baby for her.

Her four month old baby girl. Her only child. leaving today. But it was for the best. Her baby’s best. She was dying; her baby was dying. Her child didn’t need to suffer because of her and this horrible disease. And her baby was…she was dying just like her mother. So sick. Malnourished. No breast milk. She had heard not to breast feed your baby if you have HIV…the baby could contract it. So, it had been a struggle keeping her alive on tea and water. But at least she had made it this far and was still alive. She heard her baby cry…she knew that cry very well. She shifted the baby in her lap again, and thought once more about how sick her baby was. Lately the baby had been so sick she did not even have the energy to cry. During the night she had to feel around for the baby because she made no sound at all. Her baby was so sick, she just knew it. How close to death she or her baby was she did not know – she only knew that it was bad for both of them. Now this white lady was willing to help take care of her before she ended up dying. At least her baby might have a chance at life.

“Stand up…the white lady is here in front of you. She says she will take good care of the baby.”, her good friend says. “She looks nice. She looks like she already loves the baby. She keeps smiling but she has tears in her eyes.”
She then felt the warm hands help lift her to her feet. She felt the tears already on this mzungu’s hands. She held the baby while the mzungu hugged her. The village people were all talking with the visitors…but the white lady stayed next to her. She could almost feel the mzungu’s eyes on her. She so wished she could at least see this nice lady who was taking her baby. Oh, how she wished that she could. she felt her baby for the last time, then handed her to the nice white lady.

They stood for a while longer then she heard her friend say, “The white lady is going to take the baby now. She is holding her close to her chest. She brought some clothes, diapers, milk and a blanket for the baby. I believe the baby will be ok.”

It was getting dark, so the people had to get back, her friend explained. The white lady spoke some very kind words: said that she would take good care of the baby -  feed her and love her. The white lady said that she would be praying for her, she loved her, and then the nice white lady was gone. She heard the vehicle start up and drive away. Carrying the nice white lady and her baby away in it.

Gone. That quickly. Her baby was gone. She most likely would not see her again. The HIV was eating up her body so quickly. The nice white lady had said that she would try to bring her baby back to see her, but she honestly didn’t know if she would still be alive by that time. But at least her baby was ok. That was enough.
A white lady. Yes, her baby should be fine.
She prayed that night. And she knew that God heard her cries. She prayed that her baby would be loved. She prayed that her baby would live. And have a chance to be someone in this world. She prayed that her baby would not get this horrible disease. Lord, no, not this horrible disease.
Maybe one day. Maybe one day she will see her little baby girl again. If not here…then maybe eternity. That is all she could pray at this point…all she could hope for.
She knew her days were numbered.
But at least she would die in peace. She would die knowing that her daughter was taken care of. She would die knowing that her baby would have a future. She would die knowing that she did her best – she had tried to do her best for her baby girl.
At least she would die in peace.
…………..

Tuesday, May 24, 2011








Deanna left today. Flew out this morning. I miss her so much already. She fell in love with Safina and Joy. Fell in love with Amina. Fell in love with Uganda. It somehow has a way of creeping into a soul and never leaving. We wish she could have stayed longer, but God knows. I am praying and anxiously awaiting the day she returns to Uganda. We miss you, De. Love you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

life more abundantly


They sit on the front porch of their grandmother’s house.
From morning ‘til night.
They urinate – and no one bothers to clean them. They poop – and no one cares.
Two of my little girls.

I didn’t plan this. Any of it. This is not necessarily how I would have written my story, or the story of so many others, but it IS my story. And my story becomes part of the story of so many others…especially each child that God brings into my home, life, and heart. It is the story of two little girls. Two little girls whose story is now wrapped up in mine. Or perhaps I should say that my story is now wrapped up in theirs. I am learning that with me, God often just does, and does not ask my opinion or for a yes, or no – He just thrusts me into a situation and gives me no option but to follow, trust, and say “Yes” to Him.

A friend had heard about baby twins that needed a home. The story was unclear but I thought they were with a grandmother. Deanna was still here, she was leaving the next day, but we were going to check on these twins and see what the situation was. We headed out that morning for the long bumpy ride out to the village. We picked up the lady who supposedly knew where the babies were and headed to find them. We went to the wrong house at first, but we eventually found the right one. I honestly didn’t want it to be the right house. I didn’t. The children…the babies…on the front porch looked terrible. They were dirty - filthy actually. One of them was severely malnourished. She was sitting there in her own urine. While sucking her thumb, she stared at me. I just saw skin and bones. Skin and bones…and the face of Jesus. She needed lots of milk and nutritious food. The other baby looked a little fatter and bigger, but from experience I know all too well that a fatter and bigger stomach is not always the sign of a healthy baby. Their eyes and faces just looked so sick. I wanted to rush them to the doctor and get medical checkups done immediately, but food seemed to be the number one thing they both needed.

Safina and Joy. Definitely not twins, as we were told, but sisters nonetheless. Two precious bundles of need. Abandoned. Left with their grandmother who already has ten other children to care and provide for. Their unwed birth mother gave birth to Sofie when she was thirteen years old, then to Joy when she was fourteen years old. They each have different fathers, but the same mother. Safina’s father was fifteen years old when Safina was born and he ran away when he learned of the pregnancy from fear of imprisonment. Joy’s father was thirty years old when she was born, and has not been seen or heard from since Joy was born. He said that any child of his would not look like Joy. This is the story we are given of these precious baby girls as we scoop them up, hop in the van, and head home.
……
I oftentimes wish I could have been there. I wish I could have been there for the birth of my children. I wish I could have seen. I wish I could have been there for their first tooth. I wish I could have been the one across from them calling their name as they took their first steps. I wish I knew what their lives were like before they came to be mine. I wish I could have known their birth mothers and fathers…and been able to share the love of Jesus with them. I wish I knew what caused every tear, every scrape, every scar. But I don’t. I just know what causes the tears, scrapes, and scars now. I just get them when they need lots of milk, medicine, and love. and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that the Lord has chosen to place them into my care for now. At least I have them now. And I know where they are sleeping. And what they are eating. I know what they are hearing and how they are being treated. I know now. And I am so eternally thankful. I stand overwhelmed at God’s goodness and love. I lean over and kiss their little cheeks as I whisper a prayer over them at bedtime. I watch their faces during the night. Holding a sleepy little body against my chest at 2am, I walk circles in my bedroom as I sing “Jesus Loves Me” over and over and over. I feel a forehead for the fourth time during the night and give more medicine. We have a long way to go, but we will make it. They will make it. We may have lots of rehab and vitamins and sleepless nights ahead of us, but we will make it. And by the grace of God, they will be more than fine – they will survive to thrive.

“I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.” John 14:6

My Jesus does not just want to save these precious little girls from malnutrition, sickness, disease and death. No, He wants to save them from a life without Him. From a life of darkness and loneliness. From a life of confusion and searching for the Truth. Sofie and Joy’s birth mother and grandmother and entire family is of another faith. A religion. Not necessarily a relationship. My Jesus wants a relationship with them. My Jesus wants to give them LIFE. True life. He wants all of them to have life – the entire family. But for now, He has brought these little girls into my life, into my home. And I will raise them for as long as I have them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord – showing, living, and being that life of Jesus to them. For now, I am all that they know. And if I am all that they know…I want them to know Jesus in me.

Joy

Safina





Sunday, May 22, 2011

"swimming"






fun times at home. 
"swimming" in the front yard in basins. 
bonding after far too many months apart.
laughs. 
giggles. 
water everywhere.
pure. joy.