Two weeks ago at church, our pastor told us about one of the boys on the street that comes to church. He was especially out of control that day and when she stopped him to find out why, he told her that he just found out that his aunt had died several months back.
Most, no probably all, of the boys would rather be at home with their families than with me. They did not choose a life on the streets. They did not choose to be born into a family that wouldn't cherish and love them. Every single one of them wishes they would have never had to spend a single torturous night or day on the street. No matter what happens with their families, that chance to have their wish come true-to be a loved and cherished part of their families-will be taken over and over again, even if it ends badly.
I want to protect these boys, but sometimes I can't. I want to keep them locked up at home, so they don't have to face anymore pain from this world. Not only is it not possible, they are all bigger and stronger than me, but it isn't practical either. The world is a cruel place which they know all too well. They have suffered more in their short lives than most people would in ten. But what kills me the most is when they suffer again at the hands of their families. When once again, their families are let back into their lives, and they fail to see the amazing and wonderful young men these boys have turned into. I just want to shake them, or maybe punch them.
The story from church really upset one of the boys and all Sunday and Monday he was super down until he finally told me why. I told him it was fine and he shouldn't worry about his mother. I reassured him that she was fine and he could go on the weekend to visit her. He had seen her several months back but was worried because she is getting older. I didn't even think that there would be any problems with a visit back home. He talks a lot about his mom and she seems to be a well put together person. She seems to be reasonable and even kind. I knew the problem was an older brother and the mom feels like she has to defer to him because he is the one providing these days.
So off he went last Saturday to his village. No great goodbye because he was supposed to be home on Monday for school. He called me and told me he reached his grandma's house and he seemed so happy to see her. His grandma was fine and happy to see him. He told me she was cooking for him and then he would go on to his mom's house. We said, "I love you" and hung up the phone. A few hours later he called me sounding so sad and told me he would be home on Sunday. He told me that he couldn't stay and that I shouldn't worry because he was fine but he would see me on Sunday. Of course I immediately thought the worst and started to worry.
When I got home from church on Sunday, I was so happy to know he was back. It was like I could breath again. It was only one day, 24 hours, but it seemed like an eternity. At first, he didn't want to say what happened. When he finally did, he told me about how his mother just yelled at him and his brother wanted to fight. They said horrible things to him and blamed him for things that weren't in his control. In the saddest voice ever he told me, "I thought she would be happy to see me." How I didn't burst into tears at that moment, I am not sure. I reassured him that I loved him more than anything and I was so happy to see him and he would always have a home with me.
He never wants to go and see his mom again and I don't blame him. It breaks my heart because this boy is going to change Uganda. He is so smart and kind. He hurts for those hurting and breaks for the injustices in the world. He is the wisest 16 year old I know. One day, many lives are going to be impacted by his. They will know love and compassion because of him.
The same thing happened to another boy. He came back from the village so sad because he said his mom wasn't happy to see him. I don't understand how anyone could not want these boys. They drive me absolutely crazy sometimes, but I wouldn't trade a single one of them for all of the gold in the world. When they are gone, I miss them. When one of the boys made the choice that he didn't want to live here anymore, I could hardly breath and couldn't get out of bed. I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest. I just don't get how their families can live without them.
God can use even the worst of situations to bring Him glory. I see that happening. I know it is going to happen. These boys know pain. They know suffering. And one day, God will turn it into a great story of redemption and healing. I don't know why they have to suffer now. They even ask "why?" and I don't have an answer, but God's plans are good and I trust that. I know His plan was to bring them into my life long before I even knew Uganda existed. And I know the plans He has for all of us are greater than any pain or suffering we are feeling at this moment. So for now, I will love the boys in my care and pray that God will continue to heal their hearts and their pain would become awesome stories of healing and redemption. Would you pray for that also?