We went on an expected trip yesterday, but ended up with an unexpected call on our lives and ministry. It was a predictable trip. We got permission from the government to travel, because we are currently in a lock down from Covid. Everything should have been easy peasy and it was, technically. The trip was perfect. Well that was until we got about 20 minutes from the village where we we traveling. Yesterday was a day that we (Woven2Gether) had been anticipating for 4 months. Waiting to reunite a momma with her baby girl. Medina just got released from prison on Wednesday, now we were on our way to reunite her with her Stella. This was our plan, but God had more than this for us and we soon found that out.
We were traveling down a dirt road for 18 km bumping along, thanking God for this little girl we would have in our arms in just a short time. Then the probation officer, who was leading the way on his motorbike, turned left. As we came around the corner, there sat a little boy, in filthy clothes, 0penning and closing his fist, which means in Acholi, “you come”. He was starving. We stopped. We had to stop. We didn’t know what we were going to do but we knew we had to do something. The probation officer promised us that we would stop and see what to do after we picked up Stella. So Brenda, our social worker, reassured him, we would be back in just a little while.
We drove off, my heart aching. It was like I had stepped into a Compassion International or World Vision commercial and it wrecked my heart. We didn’t know what to think or say, we just knew that God had to do something for this little guy or he would surely die. We just couldn’t just leave him like that. But for know we had to continue our journey to go get Stella.
This would be the first time that Medina (momma) would be able to parent her child in her own place, in her own way, with her own love. One day we will share Medina’s story, but until then just know that her getting her daughter back is a miracle and I cried when they saw each other and wrapped their arms around each other. It was a beautiful picture of all the love that would now be able to flow back and forth between these two.
When we got to Medina’s home village, they acted like they didn’t know Stella and she wasn’t there. We had to wait awhile before the probation officer made them go get her. When Medina saw her being carried to her she, walked with arms out and Stella came right to her and just wrapped her arms around mommas neck. The tears flowed from Median’s eyes and rightfully so. They were together. A prayer answered.
It was a three hour drive, time of talking and discussing whether or not she would be released to us by the family. Thank God for the anointed probation officer who spoke with such grace and wisdom. For what could have been a family battle was a voluntary release of Stella back to her mom. That was a HUGE Miracle. When we share her testimony you will understand why. Our hearts broke right along with Medina’s when we saw Stella. No bigger than a 12 month old, we knew she had been starved. She is five years old but truly isn’t any bigger than a one year old. I couldn’t believe it. Medina look at us and said she is starving to death, and she was. Then we found out the day before she was knocked by a bull cow and almost died. Her head is a bit banged up and her shoulder is sore but she is okay and we just praised God. It was time to bring her home!
We were on our way back to Gulu, but first we had to stop to see that young boy that we promised we would go back to. When we arrived at the place we had first seen him, he was still there. He was just sitting on the hillside on the corner of the road, covered in poop, from head to foot, literally starving to death. We figured he had to be around 6 years old, maybe weighing 30 pounds, not even. It truly broke our hearts. He didn’t seem to be able to talk. He kept making a clicking noise and a cluck like a chicken. Who knows how long it has been since he has communicated with anyone.
The probation officer spent the next hour trying to get permission for us to take the boy home. The boys father, had remarried, moved away, and abandoned him he no longer wanted anything to do with him and his mother had died. So the uncle was left to decide what would happen. They agreed we could take him home, but not before they would request that we would pay them to take the boy. The probation officer stood in the gap for us, and spoke firmly to them about their hearts to sell a child that they left to die of starvation for years. He was so appalled by their behavior. We walked away and put him in the car and headed home to Gulu. God brought him into Woven2Gether Ministry so he could heal.
We wanted to bathe him, no one would give us water. We literally had to beg them to get them to bring soap and water. As we undressed him our hearts melted within us. He was completely emancipated, nothing but bones under his clothing. I could wrap my thumb and pointer finger around his upper arms and legs and still had room inside my fingers. He pants full of years of human waste. I had to do everything I could do to not break down and cry. He stunk so bad of feces that it wretched your stomach. When the water hit his body he started scrubbing. He squinted with his right eye. He couldn’t see out of it. It seems to be paining him. We are gonna take him to the doctor to get looked at. Brenda, our social worker, helped bathe him. While she was bathing him, he grabbed the soap and washed his hair and body. He was so happy to be getting clean. He smiled and just scrubbed and scrubbed. Then a nice woman gave us a set of clothes for him. He was so happy! Who knows when the last time was that he had clean clothes on. It was good to see he was capable of understanding and doing some basic things as we weren’t sure of his mental state.
Then we asked some questions of the the community that was now gathered, watching and listening to see what was going on. His name, Angnom, meaning from dust you come to dust you shall return. It is a name with a curse. We instantly knew we would be changing his name. Then I couldn’t believe what I would hear next. 2006. His birth year. This couldn’t be right. The boy standing by our side was 15 years old. I still can’t believe it. Each time I look at him I wonder how he stayed alive, other than the grace of God I have no answers.
Joshua. His name is now Joshua, it means God saves. We will be adding an Acholi name to it which means redeemed. For now Joshua. He was so excited to get in the car! He just smiled. We took Stella and Joshua out to eat and we let them eat to the full. We had to teach Joshua to use a cup but he learned quickly. They ate and ate and ate. They loved the food and the juice and our hearts were blessed that they were saved, they would heal. They would grow tall and strong and be loved. My heart was full. There in our back seat was a momma reunited with her baby and a boy who just gained a family. We don’t know where all this road will take us but we am excited to follow it.
We thought a ministry would take Joshua, but they don’t take kids with mental issues. So we had no idea what we were going to do. Well, he is stying with us, in for a time until we pray and figure out what God wants us to do. He slept in a bed with blankets under a mosquito net, more than likely for the first time in a long time. He was a happy boy. We were happy for him. Stella, safely in bed with momma was all smiles, laughter and jumping around the bed. Who knows where she slept before this. I tickled her and she laughed and laughed. My heart is happy. Mom watches, her heart is full. Soon we will reunite her with her son Moses, who is four months. But time for Stella now.
Then a phone call came that a woman that we picked off the streets who is 7 months pregnant, tried to start the grass hut on fire that we put her in. So at 10 pm at night down the dark road we went to gather her blanket and net to move her to my friends for the night so we could bring her back to her auntie in the morning. What a day it was. We are blessed.
Then the morning came and I walked into Joshua’s room, poop, everywhere in his bed. On his net, on his blankets and mattress and he was holding a clump of it in his hands. My heart broke. He has no idea what to do. So we got him all cleaned up. The rest of the day was pretty easy going. Joshua had a doctors appointment. Bacteria infection, eye infection, low iron. Medicine prescribed and started. He was so scared at the hospital of the needle that it took three doctors to hold this little guy down, but he did it. He will get stronger every day, so will Stella. God has them both in the palm of His hands. We found out Joshua loves Futball (Soccer) so much. It really makes him smile!
So life is always bringing change. I am learning to open my hands to God and let Him have all I have to use however He wants since all comes from Him. Life is a blessing but it is also sacrifice and love isn’t an emotion it is a choice. Today we chose to love. To open our home to yet two more children. We are now a home of 9. God will do and is doing great things here. We praise Him for letting us be His hands and feet.
Thank you to everyone who prays for us. Please continue to pray for Medina and Stella as they bond and grow together now. Please pray for Stella and Joshua, that they are strengthened each day and pray for Joshua to learn to use the toilet by himself again. Pray for us to have mercy, grace and patience as our home seems to be changing almost daily.
Thank you to those who have donated to Woven2Gether. You make it possible to take in these beautiful lives, feed, clothe, and give them bedding, shoes, and a home. This is the fruit from the seeds you have sown and we pray that God will multiple the blessing back to you. You have been a vessel for God to save, redeem and restore lives. Your gift isn’t just a gift of money it is the gift of life. So thank you with all our hearts.