How You Can Give a Home to Abandoned Babies

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I’m kneeling on the carpet in front of the wood stove, praying into the wood chips and the ash, like I do many nights now when my family falls asleep.

It’s been a month since I walked the slums of Katwe, Uganda in my pink shirt and blue jeans. The air smelled like despair there– like salt and soil–and I touched every hand possible, picked up every baby, because I couldn’t hold Africa tight enough.

It was a reunion for this girl who lived in the Congo and Nigeria for two years, my Dad a missionary with Christian Blind Mission. In spite of the garbage in the streams, the barefooted babies with malnourished bellies, the aching fatigue of collapsing shacks, I was home.

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And this has made coming back to Canada more than difficult.

We were gone for nine days — four days of travel, three days in Uganda, and two days in Rwanda, and yet it felt like a lifetime.

It’s made me fall on my knees, night after night, weeping for the memory of children without mothers or fathers, without food or water, without clothes. Children who had green snot running down their faces and no doctor to rush them to. I weep over the lethargy and hopelessness of life in the slums — and yet, there was Mama Evah, rescuing babies, taking them with her to her orphanage, Destiny Villages of Hope, and nursing them back to health.

Before I left on this #AFRICAWH bloggers’ trip with World Help, God said, “Your job is not to fix. I could fix the world with one breath. Your job is to love.”

But oh, with every ache of this mother’s breath, I want to end the pain – I want to pack up and move to Uganda and give those babies a home and it’s been the hardest surrender.

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Yet I know a Savior whose flag flies higher. I know a God who claims to do the impossible, and even as I fall on my face in my comfortable house in the snowy north of Alberta, Canada, I can see Jehovah rising furious over the slums of Africa and then gently placing down servants to bring about mercy.

Because when I walked those streets in Kampala, it wasn’t me bending down to hold those children — it was God’s love exploding through my skin. Desperate to let his people know he cares.

He sees those HIV-positive babies lying in the dirt crying for mothers who won’t come because they’re dead. He sees those teenage boys sniffing glue to numb their hunger pains. He sees those grandmothers working 20-hour days to find enough food for their dead daughter’s children who lie on the dirt floor while chickens defecate around them. And the 400 families who lost everything in the fires that recently ripped through northern Uganda? Yeah, he sees them too.

And He weeps.

Because it’s not fair.

So I beat the floor when I cry. And I know I’m not the only one to return from Africa and feel this way. But the question is:

What are we going to do about it?

Because it’s not enough to have a “changed perspective.” That trip was not about me. It was about God inviting me into his heart — and his dreams — for Africa.

So here’s what we as World Help Bloggers were intending to do.

We did rolls and rolls of art with the boys and girls of Destiny (see here), and we planned to auction off those original paintings on canvas, so that Phases 2 and 3 of Mama Evah’s baby rescue homes could be funded.

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And then the art never arrived with us in Rwanda. It was (most likely) stolen. We checked it in Kampala when we should have carried it on board. And the rolls of canvas, along with soccer balls we were bringing for the children of Kigali, went missing.

It was devastating, yes. But, we have a God who is bigger than stolen art. A heavenly father who loves these children more than we ever could, who can redeem any situation.

So here is Plan B to raise money for Mama Evah’s Baby Rescue Homes.

We have raised 25% of the necessary amount for Phase 2 of the building project, but we still need to come up with $26,000 more.

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We want to give you this beautiful printed copy of the original art by Destiny’s children, featuring a hand-print of one of the students (#rescueart).

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• Any gift amount ($2, $5, however much you can give): And you will receive a high-resolution digital print proof of the artwork above.

• A gift of $25+: And you will receive an 8 x 10 print. Frame not included.

• A gift of $50+: And you will receive a 16 x 20 print. Frame not included.

• A gift of $100+: And you will receive a 16 x 20 print matted and set in a 20 x 24 frame.

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Just click HERE to donate now, and you will receive art from our beautiful Ugandan friends saying Thank You

for helping Mama Evah build TWO NEW baby rescue homes.

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And would you help us share about this post?

Here are two tweets we’ve made up for you, so it’s easy to spread the word about #rescueart:

Get free African art when you help Ugandan orphans through #rescueart.

or:

I just got a free African print when I donated to #rescueart!

Thank you, friends.

We cannot fix the world. But we can give these babies a future.

((Love)) e.

 

(This post also appeared over HERE at (in)courage)

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Do I Love My Kids More Than I Love Jesus?

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

A tiny casket lowered into the sullen dirt and the sky, swollen with grief.

The parents stood to the side, watching their baby girl being buried in a box and my scarf was soaked with tears. I kept stealing glances at my friend, wondering how she was still standing. Wondering how to comfort her, because there is no comfort any human can offer for the loss of a child.

I still have their daughter’s picture on my fridge and I tear up when I look at her delicate face, this baby born with a rare genetic disease to a couple that tried eight years for a child.

“If it has to be something, give me cancer or let me lose my house but please don’t take my kids,” I pray at night. “Please God, don’t make me go through that–”

Getting pregnant was hard for us too. We were told we would probably never have children because of my anorexia, and then a pastor prayed over us on national television for a son within the year–and we conceived a son within the year. And now we have two boys.

But I’ve also lost two babies, while they were in the womb, and it’s near-wrecked me. Those miscarriages bore stillborn faith and for awhile it was all I could do to just keep going.

I didn’t know, before having kids, the agony of giving birth to your heart and not being able to protect it.

via ILinca Vânău

via ILinca Vânău

The excruciating pain of sending your vulnerable little heart–with his puppy-dog backpack–into a world full of sin.

And the truth is? I don’t know if I love Jesus more than I love my children.

I don’t know if I love Jesus enough to say, “Anything Lord–whatever your plan is, whatever it is you want to use my children for, whatever your will is for this family–please do it.”

I’ve heard of parents giving God the glory when their children die and I want to be that person and yet–I also believe in grief, because what is the resurrection without death? And what is praise without sorrow? Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

Some things in life are just really, really hard. And we’re not supposed to be able to comprehend the pain of losing our children–it’s supposed to be heart-wrenching, because otherwise God sacrificing his own son wouldn’t mean much.

I recently returned from Uganda and Rwanda, where I met women who’d lost multiple children, and I met children who’d lost their mothers and fathers, and death was a reality for everyone there.

But God was a greater reality.

He rose off the face of every person I met, he rose triumphant and joyful, he rose with the promise of an eternity filled with life.

Jesus says to love him more than we love our sons and daughters.

Jesus says a lot of hard things and I’m a sinner saved by grace and it’s all I can do some days to repent. But I want to want to love him more than anything in this world. I want God to be a greater reality for me than death.

via Irena Selaković

via Irena Selaković

And I know that I don’t serve a heartless savior. When I commit my children to him in prayer while seated at the scratched wooden kitchen table, my sons watching Thomas the Train in the background, I don’t commit them to just anyone. I commit them to their Maker.

And when I pray that Jesus would be glorified both in my family’s living and dying, I know God weeps–not only out of joy for the surrender of our hearts, but out of pain–knowing how hard it is to give up a child.

“I just wish I could be there to show her around heaven,” my friend said to me following the funeral of her baby girl, her eyes blurry with tears. “It’s such a big place–I just worry she’ll get lost.”

Oh friends, these mother hearts–they’re meant to ache with the thought of loss.

But this earth, is but a glance, and then, we have forever to spend with Christ and our children. Hallelujah.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

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How a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Change the World

I saw them walk into the church one Sunday, all five of them, the boys in their long pants and button-up shirts and the girls in their dresses, heads ducked low. They’d just lost their mother to a brain aneurism and I swore I’d never complain about another dirty diaper.

And then the next day my eldest son dumped the potty on the floor, a full potty, and my foster boys were fighting and my youngest fell down the stairs and got a black eye.

How a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Change the World

I gathered him up and ran to the office and sat on the floor and cried, rocking my baby back and forth wondering why God had asked me to be a mom, this girl who’d been told she wouldn’t be able to have children, this girl who had never wanted children—had only ever wanted to be famous. To be known, because of some deep unloved holes in her heart.

Sometimes I escape to the back deck and listen to the silence, to the way the snow falls—softly, uninhibited—smelling the laundry through the chute and wishing for the same kind of significance I felt as a single person. Or even as a newly married person. The ability—and time—to do something profound because I didn’t have four little boys on my lap.

And then I turn and see their tiny faces pressed against the glass of the back door, their foreheads wrinkled and my baby’s lip beginning to tremble and I know without a doubt I’m famous. Despite the spit-up on my shirt, I matter in a huge way. This mothering, matters.

And not only that, but motherhood is revolutionary. It changes the world.

We live in a culture that insists mothers deserve spa-days and hot cups of coffee and time to remember that they are women—and to an extent, I agree. I grew up as a pastor’s daughter whose mother never had time to herself, who was always serving, and she was exhausted and sad. I swore I’d never become a mother because it ruins you, it wrecks you–and in many ways, it does.

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But in the same way that Jesus says a seed cannot produce fruit unless it falls to the ground and dies, we as mothers cannot produce fruit in our children (or in the world) unless we too die to ourselves.

I’ve been reading a radical little book lately called Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. In it she says,

“You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its eighteen-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body… Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of giving your body to another.”

Maybe we don’t get dressed until three in the afternoon, and suppers some days are Delissio pizzas or Chinese take-out. Maybe nine loads of laundry sit piled on our dryer, the floor is perpetually sticky and something brown sits pooled in the back of the fridge.

It’s okay.

Because being a perfect housewife is not the same as being a revolutionary mom. Being a revolutionary mother means taking time each day to snuggle with your children. To read them the same story over and over, to kneel down and look them in the eyes and tell them they mean the world to you. To pray with them and take flowers and meals with them to the lonely and teach them how to fly a kite.

There will be bad days. We are only human but even on those, take your children’s hands and say, “I’m so sorry—Mommy messed up. Can you forgive me?” And this too, changes the world, because your children learn how to say sorry. How to ask for forgiveness. And how to give it.

A mother’s sacrifice is her child’s reward. They will not remember how clean your floors. They will remember how you took time to sound out the words in their Winnie the Pooh book, or how you stretched out your arms and said, “I love you.”

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And this, friends?

This changing of the world?

It makes children of us all.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

I Held a Dying Baby Today–And Saw God

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Uganda is wrapped in red roads, like ribbons around a present, and we followed them today–this motley crew of five jet-lagged storytellers, kissing Africa on the cheek and gripping her ancient hand.

And I held a dying baby.

He was 18 months old, but he weighed less than either of my babies  when they were first born. And he was too weak to cry, so I cried for both of us there in that pediatric wing of Kampala’s only hospital.

A hospital that has no well or clean drinking water, that makes mothers sleep beneath the cribs of their infants because there are no beds, that has a mortuary for the babies right beside the wing.

“Don’t cry,” his mama said to me. “God is still alive.”

Another bed held a seven year old boy, just seven pounds when they found him abandoned two months ago. He was so stunted he looked three years old. He smiled and cooed in my ear.

And Evah is the mama for all the abandoned babies. She is a warm woman with a soft face and sad eyes, because her husband died two years ago in a car accident–and she started the orphanage, Destiny Villages of Hope, years ago with her husband, as well as a church for 2,500 in the middle of the second largest slum in Africa–Katwe.

We walked the dirt path of the slums lined with garbage and babies in underwear and distended bellies, and the children all wore shining smiles while picking at gnats in their hair and carrying jugs of dirty water. Piles of trash, and mothers washing clothes in buckets, tin and cardboard and plywood nailed together to make homes.

A little girl, no bigger than a thimble, ran to me, wrapped her arms around my neck and wouldn’t let go, and I held her there amongst discarded Coca Cola bottles and plastic wrappers.

And God was there too.

In the color of skin, leaping rich off their bodies, in their laughter–which carried across the trash, like a bright yellow bird–in Mama Evah and her church with its plastic chairs, and then, we drove into the lush countryside filled with banana trees and corn plants and Jackfruit, and we found Destiny Villages of Hope.

We found 1,500 children rescued from the slums and given a second chance, thanks to Mama Evah–and World Help, the organization we flew here with: a Christian organization that partners with Evan, empowering locals to do good in their own country.

Kids from the slums of Katwe are now being taught how to read and write at Destiny, are being given clean rooms with bunk beds and steaming plates of rice and plantain for lunch, singing hymns and playing the bongos, kicking soccer balls across the red dirt.

We laid out rolls of canvas and paints and the kids, they made art on the dusty floor. The swirling of tempura colors, the swish of brush against canvas, the children grinning up with white teeth, and Mama Evah in a chair watching it all with her sad eyes.

And so this is Africa–the wounded heart of the world where people with strong backs and shining eyes forge onwards.

I held a dying baby today, friends.

And I saw God.

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Will you help us?

Mama Evah wants to build a third rescue home for abandoned and neglected babies. Will you consider helping Evah save more children from the slums? IF EACH OF YOU GIVES JUST $2 TODAY, the  first phase of the rescue home will be FULLY FUNDED. Here is the link. Love to you (and thank you).

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