During our second and third years in Uganda, our little corner of the country faced a drastic crisis. A rebel army began terrorizing the villages all through the Rwenzori Mtns.
Jeff and the young men at church spent the better part of the two years delivering food relief and medical treatment to the hardest hit villages. It was a difficult, blessed, exhausting, amazing time.
I experienced this time in a unique way. From my bed.
Just as the rebels marched within 15 miles of our quaint little town...I discovered that one of my greatest longings had been fulfilled. I was officially going to be a mommy. Jeff and I were ecstatic over the news of our first little one. Soon after the nausea and pregnancy sickness began to take firm hold of my being...another sickness attempted to steal the whole show. Malaria.
The combined onslaught left me completely depleted and stuck in bed. I spent alot of time on prayer patrol. Desperate prayers for our unborn baby. Intensive prayers for Jeff and the guys.
Jeff would come home at the end of his very long days and tell me some of the things he had experienced. I remember one day in particular. He was in Ntoroko, a small, hot, fishing village on Lake Albert. While they were there,he was asked to go and help a dying boy.
When he entered the mud hut, he smelled a rancid odor and saw a small boy, with a large, infected wound covering his leg. Jeff described the wound as the worst he had ever seen. The wound stretched from mid thigh to the ankle and the boys leg was permanently bent due to the decay of the muscles.
What touched Jeff most was the boy's....smile. Yep. One smile from that precious suffering boy...and Jeff's heart was gone.
He said to me, "He really is the cutest thing you have ever seen! I can't wait for you to meet him."
Samuel's mom had brought him back to his village so he could die at home. They didn't have the cash for the surgery he needed. Five dollars.
Jeff gave them the money that day, but he had very little hope that Samuel would get the help he needed in that village hospital.
Jeff made arrangements to stay in contact. And he did. Two years of hospital confinement, three major surgeries, an amputation and several months of rehabilitation later...Samuel emerged from a horrific struggle...healthy, smart and still smiling.
He wanted to start back to school. He was very behind by that time, but he was determined...so we put him in a nearby school.
He went to the head of his class and has stayed there. The teachers and administrators love him. He has held leadership positions and was responsible for keeping the school keys.
He even preached on Sunday mornings for the school chapel. Amazing.
What a thrill to see him thrive. Volleyball, soccer, academics, social skills...(he completely won over the entire Faith Quest crowd with his own rap about a Butoro Boy!)...what a joy.
This morning (Saturday), Ronald came over to tell us that he saw our son's name in the paper. (Uganda Monitor Page 1) Samuel Balinda scored in the top 5 of this district on the Uganda National Exams...which is a high and distinct honor. It pretty much secures a place for him in a very good secondary school.
And it makes me cry.
Sam has faced obstacles like I can't even imagine. And unfortunately, many still remain for him. Mainly, as we watch him face adolescence, he is coming up against the obstacle of himself. His choices. The direction and path he will walk....
I pray for him like I pray for my own.
That year....seven years ago...was a big year for our family. We were expecting one child. God graciously gave us two. One looks just like us. One never will. :-) Both lives are results of His miraculous care and healing. Both are treasures in our lives.
...and one of them just aced a big exam and will head on to the next phase. We are so thankful for what we've seen God do in Samuel's life. Please pray with us that Samuel will hear God's voice and walk with Him in every way.