Shortly after we were off for a day of home visits. We visited my sweet girls and their mother at their home. After a funny exchange with Sophie about not being able to find her panties, and of course catching up with their mother, encouraging her, and praying for them, we were on to our next home.
We had no idea at the time what kind of impact that two minute drive would make.
When we arrived, we were greeted by two kids, a boy and a girl, around 13 and 14 years old. There were 4 kids total from that family. The oldest girl was away at a boarding school and the youngest lives at Camp El Har, AMG's orphanage in the city. But these two remained at home.
You see, their father died of AIDS and their mother remarried. In Uganda when a woman remarries, her new husband often will not accept the children from a previous marriage so they are sometimes left with family members, but more commonly just left.
(One of the beds - just a thin piece of foam with a blanket and a mosquito net with lots of holes)
So these kids, named Simon and Thereza, welcomed us into their home. When most kids (like my girls) come to greet us can hardly contain their excitement, but these kids were different. They were very solemn and wouldn't smile, their eyes looked empty, and they looked like they carried the weight of the world on their shoulders.
While I was sick, at times I felt hopeless, like I'd never get better. But God always brought me hope and reassured me that He had a purpose for it all. And I knew that hope wasn't for me to keep to myself, but to share with others too.
So that day we walked into their home and sat down on small wooden stools. The only light in the room was streaming in from the open door and the holes in the tin roof. My heart was completely broken. When I wrote last week about how sometimes it hurts to love these children, this was one of those moments. But as I fought the tears (and it was hard to fight them as my mom and one of the workers were both weeping and my dad was brushing away tears) I knew that everything I had been through led me to that moment. And even though my struggles couldn't compare to what they were going through, I could honestly tell them I know what it feels like when it seems God has abandoned you.
Looking at them caused a lump in my throat and tears filling my eyes. So I picked a stone on the dirt floor and started to share. I shared a passage from 1 Peter. I said that the Bible tells us that we will face many struggles in this world, but because of Jesus we have this reward in heaven that never goes away. For me, I needed good health. But one day my health will fail me, I'll grow old and die. In this life we need food, but one day that food will spoil and it will be no good to us anymore. But this reward we have in heaven never spoils. In never fails. And it will never change.
When I finished we prayed with them, and as we always do on home visits we gave them a small package of beans and rice. As we left we realized why they were so somber when we arrived.
They had no food.
Just before we came they were trying to figure out how they were going to get their next meal because they had nothing. And as we left, one of the workers gave slipped them a little bit of money because now, even though they had some rice and beans to eat, they didn't even have charcoal to cook it with.
And before we left, Thereza smiled. The worker we were with said she hadn't seen Thereza smile since her sister went to Camp El Har a year and a half before that day.
After we left our hearts were so broken and we felt overwhelmed by the needs of these children. I cannot even imagine what they've been through. Facing their father's death, their mother abandoning them, having to deal with grown-up issues when they've barely been teenagers for more than a few months, and on top of that facing the day to day struggles of going to school and being a kid growing up in the third world country.
They have no one. No one to tuck them in at night. No one to help them with their homework. No one to hug them when they have a bad day. No one to care for them when they're sick. No one to talk to about all the things teens need to know as they grow up. There's no one there.
And it just tore our hearts apart, especially knowing this was one family. These aren't the only kids facing this situation. We were surrounded by it.
We knew we needed to do something. Now, Thereza is sponsored through AMG. Her brother Simon is not. Simon was too old to be moved to the orphanage, but in the past year he's been moved to a boarding school. Being a little older and being a boy, he was not so much at risk.
But Thereza, on the other hand, was. You see, when you're hungry, eventually you get to a point where you'll do anything for food. Our goal was to keep that from every happening. Instead we worked to get Thereza into Camp El Har with her younger sister, Vicky. We found the necessary sponsors, and she has sinced moved into her new home at Camp El Har.
We are so beyond excited to see her, to see how she's grown over the last year. We've heard from the workers that she is doing so well, but I can't wait to see her with my own eyes and wrap her in a giant hug.
See that day we went to visit those kids at their home, we did more than just bring food. We brough hope, love, and a chance at a new future. Thereza is now living in a home where she doesn't have to worry about where her next meal will come from. Someone is there to take care of her when she's sick. She goes to school every day and is progressing in her education - unheard of for so many girls in Uganda.