Our Sisters in Africa

Take a hop, skip and a jump over a few continents and you find a tiny transformed village.  By plane, by bus and lastly by foot, we reached Adacar this past July and oh, what an amazing sight it was.  Our time there was short, relatively speaking, five full days and when I say “full” I mean it.  One of the most special times there was the visit to our sponsor children’s homes. I could go on and on, but I want to share this story about one of my sponsor children’s (Martin’s) mom, this lady is pretty amazing and after my visit to Adacar this summer, I find myself praying for her almost every single day because she’s got a huge job ahead of her…

As far as I can tell, Martin has four brothers and sisters and at least three of these, besides Martin are sponsored through Children’s HopeChest.  Martin looks just like his mother, ebony skin, high cheekbones, searching eyes, distinct nose, but I noticed that his other brothers and sisters didn’t resemble the two of them too much.  Slightly peculiar, but I know families there can be just as blended as ones here. The children adapt and life goes on, right?  Sorta. 
Martin has a slightly younger sister (15 or 16) named Betty.  Betty is beautiful, sweet, kind, lights up a hut.  Her and Martin seem to be very close, then comes Nicholas, talk about all smiles…an amazing kid and then the littlest (can we say cutie-cakes?) is Lucy and, as far as I can tell, they have one more brother.
As Martin led us to his hut, he signed something to our team member, Maddie.  She translated, “Martin apologizes for the appearance of his home.”  What?  I thought.  A hut is a hut. We got there, waited a while for his mom, hung out with the neighbors and their children–and waited a little more, finally Betty piped up and said (in Ateso), “Mom went to get the water jug fixed.”  Their only source of “running” water had sprung and leak and mom was out trying to get it repaired.  I don’t know where or exactly how, as it’s not like Target is just a mile down the road, but about 10 minutes after that, I hear, “Yiyiyiyiyiyiyi!!!!!” –a customary joyful expression of the women in Adacar–getting closer through the bush.  Music to my ears.  Martin’s mom comes running through the tall grass with the water jug on her head and embraces me.  It was a pretty cool moment.  We chatted a little while through the interpreter, she showed me around their homestead, a large dirt circle about 15 feet in diameter with three sturdy huts around it and one hut (possibly used for food/grain storage) in need of repair.  For the middle of nowhere, I have to say it was pretty beautiful.  Simple. We were taken to Martin’s hut, yes, it appears that the oldest child gets their own hut–a cool custom.  We chatted some more and I gave her the few gifts I got from the small town store for her.
This year’s visit to Adacar and seeing Martin’s whole family set things in a tailspin because their story is deeper and more complicated than I initially thought, in a story recounted by Betty to one of my teammates (cutie-pie Lucy’s sponsor): Martin’s biological mom and dad married and had two children.  At some point Martin’s father left Martin’s mother and married another woman, and had three children with her.  This woman died, and now Martin’s mom has taken charge of ALL the children. The father is nowhere in the picture. It appears, though, that his dad is still alive, because Martin gave me his cell phone number…
Wow.  Here is a woman, day after day, cooking, cleaning clothes, providing food and water and caring for three children that aren’t even her own ON HER OWN.  I’m astounded and challenged by her strength, love and her selflessness. 
I know this isn’t an isolated case, though, there are woman all over the CarePoint who are loving and providing for children who aren’t biologically theirs because one or both of their parents have died, either from HIV, or malaria and may have just left.  The enormity of their generosity puts me to shame and at the same time energizes and pushes me forward because I can see the supernatural strength that God has given to these women–and how their Maker, their Husband is providing for their children.  It sends chills down my spine to see the gospel in action: the Father of the fatherless, the Defender of widows setting the lonely in families, it makes me want to send up a couple of my own “Yiyiyiyiyiyis.” 

This got me to thinking, when do I feel the most secure, the least worried, and close to zero on the tense meter?  When I know my child is being provided for, mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, when I don’t have to struggle to get these needs met. 
There is something tangible that you can do to give our sisters hope: support their children.  Imagine living in a world with no government subsidies, no free education and your food source heavily dependent on the weather and what you’ve been able to grow with your own hands.  The odds seem overwhelming.  But here is what HopeChest, through sponsorship, does in lightening that burden in very tangible ways, by providing:
-school fees and money for their uniforms
-regular Christian discipleship
-each sponsored child yearly physical exams and helps pay for medical emergencies
-one hot meal a day, sometimes, the only meal they get
-each child in the program also gets a goat, which can be used for trading in the market place
I know I’ve written sponsorship posts before, so maybe I’m a broken record. 
Over and over again, we are admonished in Scripture to put feet to our faith:
“What is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds, can such a faith save him?” James 2:14
“…and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
I’m going to be honest here: I tout Children’s HopeChestbecause I have SEEN the results with my own eyes: I have seen the hope, the life, the change it has brought about in these children’s lives and in their parent’s lives.  I have seen the TRANSFORMATION of an entire community in just a four years and I have seen what hours of prayers and commitment and love and traveling just once a year to say “hello” will do, and this verse in Isaiah LIVED OUT.  It is amazing and indescribable and just. Wow. God.

So yes, I want you to sponsor a child, but I also want you to accept them into your heart and into your life, into your family’s lives.  I have two sons: Martin and Paul who are growing into men who will one day be husbands and fathers and have important jobs to go to every day whether that is in the field or in the classroom or in an office somewhere in a big city. 
We all share a very important job, let’s roll our sleeves up and get to it.

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