March 31, 2004
Hello my friend,
We brought 2 new babies here yesterday. After a confusing delay and a much too long wait for dear little Sophie–she is finally here! Our doctor at SOS is not at all convinced that she is suffering from TB. He says that the x-ray that he viewed of her chest was of such poor quality that he may recommend a better one.
He also wants to see her next treatment report from Mengo hospital where she has been getting TB treatments. In his opinion, he says he would label Sophie as a child who has “failure to survive” complex but believes that that will end when she is eating and sleeping properly. We were so encouraged by his words.
Sophie will go to cottage #1 where she will be cared for by Auntie Janet. Mama Jennipher has left the village and not returned. She left the care of these children in order to take care of a crisis with her own daughter. This is becoming more routine than I can say — any family crisis presses these women to make a choice between Rafiki, where they are committed to live full time, and their own homes where things are never stable or smooth running. I know we need a policy that will allow the women some more freedom to come and go so that we can hold on to them over the long haul. Since I have been here, we have lost 4 mothers!
Auntie Janet has been exceptional in this latest AWOL episode. She has moved in to cottage #1 and is making the care of these children her top priority. The presence of babies in the village has lifted all our hearts and made us fix our eyes on the goal rather than all the problems in arriving there! The children in cottage #1 are fascinated with this cute tyke with the extraordinary eye lashes. Janet is completely besotted as well–it is unusual to see African women display such outward affection. We have also been waiting on William the one I call our little “Buddah Boy” and he too has arrived to live at Rafiki. He is taller and his stomach is not as distended — he loves the dining hall and is relishing all the attention he is getting from his new mother– Mama Robinah.
Jane, we had a tragic thing happen here this weekend. One of our most trusted guards James Okwir (O-quill) was on duty Friday night. James was a Rafiki guard and also worked as a personal gardener for Mike and I and another ROS couple here. Our hearts were so tender to this wonderful man who tried every way he could to support not only his own family but children who had been orphaned in his extended family. He would work all night as guard and then spend several more hours washing cars, replanting and keeping the weeds out of the flower beds around our houses.
Anyway, the generator went off at 10:00 on Friday night and in the darkness he took a 5 gallon can of paint from Rafiki, left the village and went across the road to store it in a house of someone who lives close by. Since we also pay outside community guards to keep watch at night, one of them saw him stealing and reported it.
James knew he had been caught and that sweet man was so shamed that he went home, swallowed rat poison and killed himself. I cannot even begin to describe the heartache this has caused for us and the nationals who work here. I found myself of despairing of being any kind of a help to these people when what we bring and build is so tempting to them. James was in many ways one of our “success” stories. He had fled the north where the war is going on rather than be impressed into service with the rebels. He found work here–he found Christ here and was the most dependable worker. How horrid that his escape from certain death in the north ended with this– to flee here to supposed safety only to face such temptation and shame that he ended up taking his own life. The heartache does not stop with him–he left a mentally unstable pregnant wife and extended family who wailed and wondered who would support them now. Mike commented that CEO’s can steal millions and experience no remorse or shame but this man could not face the world after stealing what would amount to about $50.
Jane, this is the resurrection day of our Lord. My hope rests in the truth of this day. I am convinced that James is right now as alive as Jesus and is enjoying perfect fellowship with him. I am convinced that the truth of Romans 8:31-39 does not mock him because of his sin but has been fulfilled in him because of what Christ did in spite of his sin. I didn’t expect to appreciate the truth of resurrection in this horrible way but it is more real and precious to me this year than ever before. He is Alive! He is Alive indeed!
With heavy, hopeful heart,