Friday, December 19, 2014
“To me, a faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with the poor and the orphans…it’s nothing.” — Bono, Lead singer U2
I forgot to include a number of things in the blog yesterday that Karen gently reminded me to include today (I did say “gently” didn’t I?) First to thank all of you who prayed for her when she was sick with pneumonia. She is much better now and is, in fact, in Mwanza right now getting her hair done which always cheers her up. I have also been remiss in thanking those who prayed for me during and after my cancer surgery on my jaw. The stitches are out, and I am healing nicely with no more pain. However, I am now in the third day of a two-week regimen to apply acid to all the skin cancer spots on my face and arms to burn them off. I have done this once before several years ago, but the equatorial sun is “mkali” or fierce as the locals say. It will leave me looking rather like a cherry tomato with a fair amount of pain, but “ndivyo alivyo” or “what can you do” —all this skin cancer is genetic. My father had to burn the cancers off his skin on more than one occasion, too. Of course, the biggest thing I messed up on not reporting (see picture at the right) is that yesterday was Charlini’s eighth birthday. In 2006, her mother, who was just fifteen gave birth to a healthy little girl, but then sadly the mother died just five days later. The young boy who was the father had fled the country, so we have been raising her ever since with her grandmother’s help. She has an older sister who has turned to prostitution and an older brother who has been to jail at least once because of drug sales and addiction, so little Charlini has had a rough row to hoe. We have gotten her in a good school, bought her uniforms, paid for tutoring, and keep her here as much as we possibly can. We’ve paid for her medical expenses and insured that she has always gotten immediate treatment for malaria which she has had several times. She is such a joy and I’m a little saddened that they burdened her with my name (which is spelled a variety of ways) but she loves John and he is teaching her building skills and some basic electronics. The gift she is unwrapping is a building block set with plans in a book for her to imitate. She loves it, as well as the Legos and other building things we keep here for her. We have to keep most of her stuff here because her sister will steal it and sell it if she takes it home. There is much more pain to being an orphan than just not having parents. Christ knew this and reminded us time and again to remember the widows and orphans. By making it to age eight, she has a very good chance of living a full life. We are doing our best to see that she has a real chance to become something, an engineer, a teacher, or whatever else she wants to be. We won’t always be around, so we have left an education trust in her name for secondary school or university should she make it that far. In the meantime, her smiles, her hugs, and her goodbyes in English which are always, “I love you, I’ll see you tomorrow,” keep us going and brighten our days. Hard to believe eight years have gone by, but that’s the way life is everywhere I guess. I know of several families in Arkansas that have adopted Ugandan, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Honduran orphans. I read their posts on Facebooks and their emails, and those kids are doing so well and are so loved. My good friend, Pete O’Neal understands as well as this is the eighth year of his orphanage which he says changed his life forever. It’s hard not to be blessed whenever you lighten the burdens of a child with no parents which is one reason we feed almost 100 orphans every day, yet we are the ones who feel blessed.