"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on 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."
"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
I met Agnes* in 2009 when she was six months pregnant. She was 13. She was embarrassed and shy and unsure of the new people who were now interested in her life. She gradually warmed up and became a joyful side-kick to whatever I was doing. She’s one of my favorites.
Agnes is fun and funny. She has a hilariously sarcastic sense of humor. She loves to laugh and easily elicits joy in others. Agnes is discerning and truthful and unafraid to speak her mind. It’s helpful when she’s revealing hidden motives of situations she’s observed. It’s helpful when she senses someone’s needs or when she’s advocating for someone wrongly accused. But it’s hard when she’s hurting and wants control over every decision.
Agnes is lovely and Agnes is broken. She was orphaned at a young age and moved in with an older sister who also died. Her uncle, who makes charcoal as subsistence living, took her in. Hating this change and wrought with emotional pain, she wandered around in defiance. In her wandering, she was taken advantage of and became pregnant. She was brought to us in this condition, expectant and hurting.
Agnes is bright. She finished primary school, performing well on her exams and was set up in high school for a successful future. I envisioned her finishing college and creating a sweet life for her and her child. We shared this dream regularly and she’d talk excitedly about someday buying a big car her son would drive her around in.
Life has a way of bringing past reality to the surface. It can be incredibly painful. As Oasis children navigate their hurt, there are several types of responses that ensue. Agnes’s response was to RUN! At the height of her potential, Agnes, among the top five students in her school, ran away with a cunning man who promised her love and freedom. He lied and left and she crawled back for help and delivered her second child, who died after a month from an incurable heart condition.
Agnes returned to school, determined to finish and go to college. But, shortly after, she fell for another man who was even more convincing. He too lied and he forced her to abort her third baby. During this time, of her own volition, she left the Oasis program.
Agnes has continued to regularly call me to let me know how she is doing. In 2014, she married a good man and gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Purity. (I feel the weight of the declaration of a transformed future in this name.) When she called the following year, her husband was working far away making very little money. She was hungry and desperate and couldn’t feed the baby. We worked out a plan for her to attend tailoring school and she proudly graduated in July of 2017.
Through all of this Agnes’ son has remained in the Oasis program. We’ve watched him grow from a tiny baby to a delightful young man over the last 9 years. We adore him as we do his mom!
This brings me to the present. Today was the day that Agnes’ son transitioned home. Agnes just started a job in a small tailoring shop a thirty-minute walk from her home. She’s expecting another child. Her husband has work building the railroad. He loves her and all her children. Her son was thrilled to go home. He is going to thrive because he has a family that loves him.
It’s our dream for every child to find a loving family environment with people who know them and know their story. Agnes and her husband have established a simple home and are building a loving family. We’re proud of them for this. Agnes’ son will remain in the Oasis guardian program until the family can get their feet under them. We’ll be covering his schooling needs and checking in on him regularly. He’ll walk to and from school each day and come home each evening to be with his family!
It’s not exactly what I dreamed it would be for Agnes. There was only a little upward mobility. There’s no college education and no car. At least not yet. Maybe, hopefully, the next generation will make different decisions. The journey with Agnes has been a lot messier and more exasperating than anticipated and has required forgiveness and ‘do-overs,’ but I’ve seen God right there in the middle of all of it, particularly the ugly parts. He’s comfortable with messy and I’m learning to be.
I’ll miss seeing Agnes’ son around and I’m sad I won’t see him daily, but I’m truly thrilled he’s home. It’s right where he should be.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
A friend at Liberty, who is an ER nurse, graciously went over to her dorm, took a look at her and recommended she be evaluated at a hospital. We drove through the night to get to her and bring her to the hospital. We were SO THANKFUL to be in the US...
She had a concussion and some deep tissue bruising but everything else checked out ok. Some gracious friends in the area let us stay at their house while she hibernated in a dark room until she could tolerate light again. She had a hard time getting up and down the stairs because her left hip was bruised internally.
During her recovery, the family we were staying with let their 'therapy baby' hang out with her! This brought her SO much joy! She's missed having babies to hold in college!
By the third day, she was able to tolerate some light and join us for meals!
Amazingly, she only missed four days of school and we were able to drop her off in her dorm to finish her semester. She had to avoid church and chapel for a month because of the lights and noise, but she was able to go to classes and even work on her computer to finish homework.
We are PRAISING GOD for sparing her life and for such a quick recovery. Thank you to all of you who were praying so diligently for her! We are thankful!
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Tuesday, April 4, 2017