Saturday, September 28, 2013

"When you are young..."

We visited our colleague and friend, Rose, and her brand new baby girl, Lakisa, this week.  This adorable healthy newborn was an answer to prayer as mama and baby are both healthy and thriving.  This is not a given in this area.  Child and maternal mortality rates are high - very high.

But what struck me was a comment that she made as we sat in her tiny sitting room with her husband (unusual!), her two sons, a maid (usually a young lady from one of the families who needs domestic experience as she waits to get married), and the two grandmothers.  Yes, both grandmothers came to help.  This is a little unusual, especially since Rose and her husband are from different tribes.  But the happy grandmothers were both sitting there, together, loving on their grandbaby.

"The baby is doing so well because the mothers are here to help.  When you are young like us, you can't have a healthy baby.  You need help from the mothers." 

Rose is probably around 30 years old and has had two children already.  She's educated, her husband is educated, they both work for NGOs.  Yet, she readily acknowledges her need for someone older and wiser than herself to help her take the best care of her children.

We have a lot to learn from that attitude in the West.  In North America, we believe that only we, the parents, can possibly know what is good for our children.  Grandparents are token people in our lives, there to babysit and spoil the child.  Other people have no say.  We don't want to hear anything about parenting - it offends us for someone to bring up parenting - it's a sacred topic that you can't talk about.  We are all-sufficient when it comes to parenting.  We've read the books, gone to the seminars, quietly observed what we don't like other parents doing, and come to our own conclusions, i.e. the Right Way to parent.

Conversely, everything here is communal.  Any stranger on the street can tell you how to raise your child, clothe your child, or feed your child.  Your child is not your own.  In fact, your child is "owned" by the father's side of the family.

There are good and bad aspects of both cultures.  But I think we could take a cue from our Ugandan friends as they seek advice and wisdom from those older and wiser.  Can we humble ourselves and take unsolicited advice? Can we humble ourselves and solicit advice? Can we let others speak into our lives?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Heavy reality

My heart is heavy.  I'm facing the reality that I'm giving a very serious diagnosis to an orphan.

If this was a child in North America, his parents would be grieving, angry, and reaching out to find resources and support...

If this was a child in North America, his future would be full of plans for transitional care, skills training, adult living options, surgeries, medication after medication after medication, specialized diets...

Here's a reality about orphans worldwide, but specifically in sub-Saharan Africa: this kiddo has relatives.  But, for reasons that I will keep private, they have rejected him.

So, he does not have an advocate.  He does not have a mom to stay up at his side all night watching over him.  He does not have a dad who will run into town to get his medication before it runs out.  But he also does not automatically have the option for adoption because he still has relatives.

The good news? He has us! Praise God that he is a Home of Love child.

The diagnosis is still difficult.  His prognosis is still uncertain.  But at least we have a broad support network that gives confidence that we will find the right placement and options for his care.  Pray that the relatives will understand and make the right decisions about his care.  Pray as I seek 3rd and 4th opinions regarding his diagnosis!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

God is bigger than a caterpillar

Tonight, I'm sitting under my mosquito net, Googling "stinging caterpillars." I'm always learning something new - usually out of necessity.  This evening, I narrowly rescued Baby from a "bad" caterpillar that was making a bee-line for him.  This is the prickly caterpillar that people here fear greatly.  Fear almost as much as snakes... but not quite... nothing tops a snake.

After I kicked the prickly caterpillar away and snatched the baby to the sound of Christine exclaiming about the dangers of that caterpillar, the caterpillar kindly obliged and curled up into a ball waiting patiently until I could find something to kill it with.  I then scolded each of my other children for not wearing their shoes outside (again) and made baby play next to me for the rest of the day...

As if I am in control....

Yesterday, I lost him twice.  And silently freaked out. And got silently angry at the teenagers and adults in my household for letting him get out of their sight.  And beat myself up for the near-death experiences that he surely had when he wandered away from me...

As if I am in control...

Today, I lost him (only once!) to the bathroom (i.e. yucky danger room) while I was occupied feeding Gracie.  And I then strapped him to my back for the rest of the day...

As if I am in control...

But here's the good news: I'm not in control.

Although I forget this daily, my children's survival in this dangerous world does not rest on my shoulders.

I live for a God who is BIGGER than stinging caterpillars, bigger than snakes, bigger than yucky danger rooms, bigger than roads, water, cars, rocks, trees... bigger than all the things that can harm my children.  In fact, He's IN CHARGE of all the things that can harm my children.  In fact, He CREATED and SUSTAINS my children.

This is particularly significant for those of us who have children with special needs.  Me being awake all night will not keep Gracie alive if God decides that it's time for her to be home with him.  Me being asleep at night will not surprise God and cost Gracie her life prematurely.

This is significant for moms of any number or age of children.  GOD IS BIGGER, BIGGEST, CREATOR, and SUSTAINER.

Let that be our hope, our glory, our peace, our joy, our satisfaction.

In the meantime, pray that I will survive Baby's new found independent streak, find myself trusting more in Christ, and being wise!

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