Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Totally unprepared

There are things in life I thought I would never have to do.  I don't have a list or anything, but when they happen, I think "Never saw this one coming."  or "When in my life did I think I would have to do this?"

Yesterday was one of those days.

Raising kids is hard work.  Really hard.  Especially trying to do it over the telephone.  I have had more serious conversations over the telephone these last few months, than I ever have in my life.  And they aren't conversations that should be had over the phone.  But that is where we are and there is nothing to be done about it.  So we talk and I hope they get it.

Yesterday's topic of discussion, witchcraft.

First, let me start by telling you I don't believe in it.  It is hogwash and insanity.  And I think people that believe in it are crazy (sorry if that offends you.).  It has just been recently in my faith journey that I have been able to accept that if God is working for good then the Devil is working for evil.  While I understood that the Devil was evil, I just never put two and two together.  Yeah, I know, I am slow...

Anyway, my home is a country where people openly practice witchcraft, child sacrifice, and all sorts of insanity.  I have heard stories of crazy things that I don't think happen.  But people are sure that they did.  I can't make sense of it all, so I guess that is why I choose to believe it is hogwash.

Despite it being unreal for me, it is very real to many people.  They believe in its power and that they can be cursed or whatever.  And that is where my conversation starts yesterday.

I strongly believe in having all of the boys reconnect with their families.  All of the boys have some family, even if their parents are no longer alive.  I know that some will probably never rebuild that relationship and trust or heal from the terrible things that were done to them.  But I also realize they are kids and they want to know their families.  They miss them and love them despite whatever happened.  In order to make sense of it all and heal, I feel like it is extremely important for them to see their families again.  All of  the boys express interest in returning to their villages.  So I feel that it is my job to help them.  Where it gets tough is letting the boys go visit and deciding whether it is a safe place for them to stay.  I feel that I cannot refuse the boys to see their mothers and fathers or grandparents, if that is what they want.  It will only build anger and resentment, and eventually they will just run away and visit on their own.  So I always feel torn because I want to protect the boys but realize their need to see their families.

One of the boys is ready to go for a visit.  The school term is almost over and all of the boys except maybe 4 will be going for a visit.  Usually this boy visits his mother's side of the family.  This time he wants to visit his dad.  I said sure and started asking him about his dad.  First, I found out he was muslim.  This could be a huge problem and so I expressed my concern and he said he wouldn't stay at his father's house.  He only wanted to visit his father and then have him take him on to his grandfather.  Asking more about his dad and if he thought he would be safe there, I found out his dad is a witch doctor.  He began telling me stories that I couldn't believe.  I felt like I was listening to him tell me about a horror movie.  I thought these things don't really happen.  This is craziness.  He also told me those things scare him and he is afraid of his father.  So the next logical question is, "why do you want to go?".  He answered so matter of factly, "Because he is still my father."

This started our long conversation about witchcraft and why it is bad and we shouldn't get involved.  I wasn't prepared.  I never thought I would have to explain to anyone EVER why witchcraft is bad.  I think he got it, but not being there, looking him in his face, showing him the passages in the Bible myself, I can't be sure.

The biggest problem????

Do I let him go?  I don't know.

Can I refuse him to see his family?  I don't know.

Will he hate me for refusing?  Probably.

Will he forgive me?  Maybe.

Can I keep him safe if I say yes?  No.

And that is what it boils down to.  I can't keep him safe.  And that scares me.  But...

I am not the one currently keeping him safe.  I am thousands of miles away and yet he is safe, he is provided for, he is fine.

Do I trust God to keep him safe?  Absolutely.

I still haven't made up my mind about it all, but I feel like by refusing a part of me is saying that God isn't big enough to keep him safe and defeat the evil that his dad is involved in.  And I don't believe that.  He is big enough and strong enough and good enough.  The other part of me feels like saying yes is sending him into a situation that I know is unsafe.

So I don't have an answer and need to make my mind up soon.  I am torn.  I am unprepared to make this decision, like so many others.  Any HELPFUL advice and prayers would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Where I am

“My people have been lost sheep;
    their shepherds have led them astray
    and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
    and forgot their own resting place."  Jeremiah 50:6

Where am I?  Lost.

It has taken me two days of fasting to figure that out when the signs were there all along.

What am I lost from?  Good question.

What I do know is that I haven't been spending enough time with Him.  I have been working on my own and relying on my own strength.  When I should know that I am not strong enough, smart enough, brave enough, wise enough...I think you get the idea.

On my own, I am not enough.  I should know this.  The only reason that I am anything is because I was wonderfully created by an everlasting God that loves me unconditionally and suffered and died to save me.

I am flawed and broken.  I make the wrong choices, hurt people, I am selfish, say the wrong things.  Again, you get the idea. But lately, I have realized I felt like I was enough.  I thought it the other day, but today I realized fully what that meant.  I have let people's kind words and them telling me I am amazing make me think that I am strong enough on my own.

So here I have been, working on my own, building my own kingdom, instead of His.  I think my heart was in the right place.  I mean I love the boys more than anything and even in my selfishness that hasn't changed.  But I forgot that they weren't mine.  I forgot that God has been sustaining them this whole time.  NOT ME.

And I am humbled and feel like a moron.

I forgot that I am lucky to a part of the boys' lives, not the other way around.  God called me to these boys and to Uganda, not because He needed me but because it was His gift to me and I have been completely taking advantage of it.  I have been trying to micro-manage every single part of what is happening in Uganda from thousands of miles away and then I get stressed out and angry and kind of go crazy because people aren't doing what I want.

What I want.  When did it become about what I want?  Never.  But somewhere along the way, I made it about me, when it should always be about Him.  He is the only one that matters and the only one I should be worried about pleasing.

I have been keeping myself busy with nothing, instead of listening to Him.  I have doubted and worried, when I know I shouldn't.  I should know that God is in control and He has everything under control.

For the last few months, time and time again I have put my hope in people and their promises to help.  Time and time again I have been disappointed.  Today I realize my only hope should have been in my Savior that loves those boys more than I can even begin to understand.  My hope should be in knowing that He is lighting fires in people's hearts for these boys and soon he will reveal them.

Today, I am putting my faith and trust back in Him, knowing that is the only place it should be.  Today I am repenting for my selfishness and ego, and thinking I could do it all on my own.  Today I am resting is the wings of my Lord knowing He has everything under control.  Today I am humbled knowing I am an idiot but my God loves me anyway.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I'm not beautiful

The first time I took one of the boys to register at school, the man registering him asked him if he was a Christian.  I am sure the man was expecting him to say yes.  Actually I was too.

But my dear Dunkan said, "No. I don't pray."

I almost died.

He had only been in the home for a few days at that point.  So with the man's judgmental stare killing me slowly, I explained how he just came of the street and hurried to the next question.

And sure enough at devotions that night, he didn't pray.

He didn't listen.

He didn't seem to care.

I don't know how I never noticed it before.

He didn't believe in God.

I couldn't be angry.  I couldn't even blame him.  The thought of someone that sees everything and knows everything and loves you anyway is hard to comprehend when you aren't struggling each day to survive, let alone when you are.  I am sure we have all been there when we are at a point and think our lives are over and we can't take anymore and we get angry at God.

That point is EVERYDAY for a boy living on the streets.  Each day he is abused and beaten, treated like less than trash, arrested and chased for no reason, forced to steal to eat, and turns to drugs to escape.

Each day, he falls asleep cold and alone and thinks he can't take any more.

Each day, he wakes up and it is the same.

No one loves him.  No one has kind words, instead they hurl insults.  He eats from the trash.  What little he does have is stolen from him.  He runs and hides so no one can get him.  He dreams of seeing his family or being in school but knows his family doesn't care and probably isn't even missing him and school will never happen for him.

He begins to think he is worthless because that is what he hears everyday.

He begins to believe he is unlovable because that is how he is treated.

He begins to lose hope and faith because life is just too much.

No wonder he said he didn't pray.  He probably felt like there was no use.  He probably felt so worthless and useless, he couldn't even begin to believe that anyone could love him, including God.

What drew me to Dunkan was his laugh.  He hides his pain behind jokes.  I think he feels happiness when he sees others laughing.  His laugh is infectious.  Just hearing it makes me laugh with joy.  Every time he gets on the phone I smile and it erupts into a laugh and he asks me why.  His laugh is beautiful.  His smile is even more beautiful.  He is beautiful.

It has been so difficult for him in the home.  Lately, when I call we have been having very long conversations.  Today was no different.  He is doing better but I think it is still hard for him.  He keeps bringing up that he doesn't understand why I chose him.  Today his words broke my heart.  He said, "Don't you remember that I told you I was sitting here wondering why you took me?"  I answered and said, "Yes but don't you remember what I said?"  He assured me he did and I asked him what.  He said, "Because you love me."  I told him that was right, I do.  He responded by saying, "I still wonder.  I thought to myself, 'I am so bad.  I am not beautiful.  Why me?"

"I am not beautiful."

I think those words are difficult to hear from anyone but have a greater sting from someone you love and adore.  It is a sign that he is so hurt and broken from his time on the streets and probably even from his life before.  He hasn't known kindness, love or forgiveness.  All things that God represents.

But now he has.

Our conversation ended with him telling me thank you for choosing him.  He told me that I am everything to him because I have helped him.  I am like his mother and his father.  I am everything.

But then he stopped and changed his mind.

He said, "Sorry, actually you are second.  God is my real father and you are second to Him."

I couldn't believe it.  My heart has never felt happier.

What do you think would have happened if I would have gotten angry at him and not allowed him to be in the house because he didn't believe?

As Christians, our lives are a reflection of what we believe and who Jesus is.  I know we are flawed.  I know I am not perfect and make many mistakes everyday.  But I ask you to think about it.  Is your life reflecting Jesus' love?  Is your life reflecting Jesus at all?

Beautiful Dunkan