"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, August 1, 2012

Dennis and Daisy - Tragic Loss

It is with deep sorrow that we write this letter to tell you we lost two of the precious children in the Oasis program.  Daisy and Dennis both died within weeks of each other. Every child at Oasis is special in their own way, and both Daisy and Dennis had God’s fingerprints all over them.

Daisy’s Story:
Little Daisy was born on June 4th and was welcomed into the Children’s home with joy.  She was a beautiful baby and lived up to her name. (See previous blog for story). When she was only a week old, she contracted pneumonia and was taken to Tenwek Hospital.  After 10 days, she recovered from the pneumonia, but when the doctors tried to remove her from oxygen, she began to struggle.  So, they looked for other health issues that could be causing this. 

An x-ray was performed which revealed that Daisy had a significantly enlarged heart.  This was very concerning.  An additional test called an echocardiogram was needed to determine the exact cause of the heart enlargement.  There was also concern that if the condition required surgery there would not be a doctor available at Tenwek to perform it until October.  The doctors were hopeful that Daisy would recover enough to come home and be able to have surgery in October. 

However, over the course of the month, Daisy’s health continued to decline.  So, the doctors recommended that she be brought to Nairobi for additional testing.  On July 11, Daisy went in an ambulance to Kenyatta National Hospital where an echocardiogram was performed.  It was found that she had 3 holes in her heart in addition to transposition of the great vessels.  This meant that her aorta and pulmonary vessels were switched.  This is a fatal condition that can only be reversed through a complicated, and high-risk surgery.  Unfortunately, there was not a surgeon in Kenya who could help. 

Daisy quickly became weaker and weaker. On Friday, July 13, 2012, she died in the loving arms of her mother and woke up in the loving arms of her Heavenly Father.  Daisy was buried this week and the mamas placed daisies on her grave.  We all mourn the loss of this precious flower.

Dennis’ Story:
Oasis found Dennis when he was 14 years old and recruited him into the Day Program in the Bush at the end of last year.   Immediately, we recognized that we had a special boy on our hands. He was incredibly affectionate and his smile was charming.  He loved to give hugs and wanted to snuggle up next to anyone who would put their arm around him. He was the kind of kid that melted your heart in an instant.   

However, Dennis was sick.  He had epilepsy.  Two years ago, while having a seizure, Dennis fell into a fire and severely burned his leg.  Due to lack of good medical care, it was left untreated and developed significant scarring and infection that affected his ability to walk. 

Many of you knew of Dennis because he was recently taken to Kijabe Hospital to have surgery to repair his burned leg.  In addition he was put on a medication regimen that helped get his seizures under control.  After surgery, Dennis came to live at the Children’s home on The Hill while he recovered.  He thrived on The Hill.  The other children embraced him fully and the mamas coddled him.  He was finally able to walk again.  Indeed, hope was restored to Dennis.

Sadly, on the evening of June 25, Dennis began to have a massive seizure.  It lasted for more than an hour.  Afterwards, he never regained consciousness.  He was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing that could be done and we lost our precious child. 

He was buried a few days later with more than 300 people from The Hill and Bush communities gathered together. It was sad...so, so sad to say goodbye to one of our children; to watch the family wail and mourn over their lost brother, nephew, and cousin; to see the other children at TCH weep over the loss of their friend.
Below is the journal entry one of the Oasis staff members wrote immediately after hearing Dennis had passed away:

 I honestly can't even describe the deep sadness I feel right now and cannot seem to stop crying for the past few hours over this loss.  We lost a family member today and a boy who had the deepest joy of the Lord and a smile that could just melt your heart.  Dennis would just beam when he saw us.  He gave such intense hugs that he almost caused pain because he squeezed so tight.  He loved life and didn't seem to mind the pain of his epilepsy or his leg.  He was so strong and so inspiring to be around that you could not help but catch his joy. 

When he was in the hospital, Ann would take him candy and he would share it with every kid in his room so that they all could be as happy as he was.  He had that special kind of generous, gracious, and wonderful heart. 

His life was hard but you would never have known it.  I honestly cannot put into words how much I loved this kid, and I'm sure the Smith's can't either.  Anyone who met him knew his contagious joy and was blessed by it.  He was simply put a beautiful, precious child.  
Even though it is a loss for all of us, he is with our Father now and is healed and home.  I have this incredible image in my head right now of Dennis playing around in heaven with 2 good legs, no seizures, and running into God’s arms for a big bear and finally experiencing Someone who can hug back as tight as he can. 

God only knows why this was Dennis and Daisy’s time to go. Phillipians 3:21 tells us that when we get to heaven, Jesus will transform our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.  Though Dennis never had the chance to run here on earth, I can assure you Dennis is running now as he had a strong and vibrant relationship with Jesus.  And though Daisy struggled with every breath, we know she is enjoying perfect health in heaven. We who remain have hope because Jesus made it possible to have a relationship with God. 

We have been reminded during this tragedy of how Oasis is really a family.  Everything we do is built around our desire to engage kids and sponsors in personal and meaningful ways.  Although we prefer to celebrate successes, we also must be prepared to grieve losses together.

As we left Dennis’s funeral, Wilson, the older brother and caregiver of Dennis pulled us aside.  He had been unable to speak during the funeral because he was too overcome with emotion.  He requested that we personally thank all of Oasis for stepping in and helping Dennis.  So thank you to all of you who step in and help these precious children.  We are so grateful for you! 

A video tribute to Dennis can be seen at:

Oasis has set up a memorial fund in honor of Dennis and Daisy.  Funds donated will go towards other special medical cases. If you wish to contribute towards this, please follow the instructions below. 
How to give to the Dennis and Daisy Memorial Fund:
1. By Check to Oasis for Orphans
Memo:    Dennis and Daisy Memorial Fund
Send to:  
Oasis for Orphans                
P.O. Box 524             
Wadsworth, IL 60083

2. Online at - www.oasisfororphans.org/donate
Donate to the General Fund

In the memo field type: Dennis and Daisy Memorial Fund

Baby Thoughts...

The past few weeks I (Ann) have been thinking about babies. Doubtless this is due to the baby experiences we’ve run into recently.  I am struck at the simple value of every life and yet the complex range of circumstances surrounding the birth of each child. There’s a verse in Psalm 139 that keeps passing through my mind. “For You (God) formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” According to God, a child is never a mistake and each one is carefully and uniquely crafted.  They do change life for those involved however.  Maybe you can relate to one of these stories and can ponder life with me.

Baby Experience One - Last weekend, we went to a baby dedication.  It was a noteworthy day primarily because of the family dedicating their son.  There was a mother present, which is typical in Kenya.  Usually the mothers come to church and even if they are not regular attendees, they dedicate their children.  The significance was the fact that there was a father present as well - and not just any father, a really good father who is not only alive, but is committed to raising his children well - a man who is committed to his wife, and a man who is a leader in the community.  It was joyful to celebrate their son and their family.  It felt good to be there and to celebrate the fact that this was the way God intended a family to function. 

Baby Experience Two - Just a few days ago, we welcomed a new baby into the children’s home.  She is precious, beautiful and a gift.  (pic of Daisy)
It was not a planned incidence however.  Her mom, one of my favorites, arrived at the home in 2009 after she’d been raped.  She was 13 and pregnant and though traumatized, she delivered a healthy baby who is delightful.  Last fall, she started struggling emotionally and began to exhibit rebellious behavior.  She ended up running away twice.  We knew her location was safe but, because she refused to return, we thought she was gone for good.  We don’t force children to stay here.  It was really hard.  After several months of being on the run and realizing life outside the home wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, she apologized profusely and begged to return.  It was a process, but she is now back with us and is a changed girl.  During her absence she became pregnant, and now we are helping her manage this hard road she has ahead of her. 

Baby Experience Three – There’s a young girl in this community who we’ve befriended.  Two days ago, she pulled me aside and, with tears streaming down her face, told me she was pregnant.  She’s 16.  She is the classic story of hundreds of young girls here.  She was born into a fatherless home.  Her mother is incompetent.  A generous relative offered to take her in at the age of 10.  She’s basically like a servant to the family. Though she goes to school and is given food, she spends all of her additional time watching cattle, washing clothes or dishes, hauling water, or cleaning.  She is desperate for love – desperate for someone to tell her she is worthy and valued.  The first boy that came along and told her she is beautiful and that he loves her became her savior.  She soaked these words in like a parched woman in a desert.  Without hesitation, she gave herself to him.  Now she’s pregnant and the cycle continues. 

Baby Experience Four -  There is another young girl in the community in the same situation as the girl above.  However, her mother took matters into her own hands and gave her herbs to induce labor in order to abort the child.  She became gravely sick and was bleeding to death when we were contacted about her situation.  In a series of miraculous events, we were able to rush her to a hospital and save her life but, unfortunately, not the life of her precious child.  This was one of the hardest days I’ve had here as I had to sit with her after her abortion while her dead child lay in a basin next to us.  It was horrific because of the life lost and yet miraculous because of the life saved. 

Life can be hard.  Only a small percentage of situations seem to live up to all that God intended them to be, primarily because of our own bad decisions.  But, even though living up to God’s plan can be seemingly impossible, God desires to be with us through every moment in our lives lived here on earth. He works through even our intentional wrongdoing to provide a way for us to reach out and find Him to begin afresh with Him at the lead instead of ourselves.  Every life is incredibly precious to God and so valuable He was willing to send Jesus to earth to pay the price for our wrong actions to make a relationship with Him possible. He knows we don’t deserve His love and forgiveness but that is why His gift is so ridiculously full of love and grace.  We just need to reach out and take it by asking for forgiveness and asking Him to lead our lives.  And then, like a new baby, we experience a fresh start. 

Thank you for pondering these things with me.  We are so thankful for the role you play in our lives.  May your day start fresh today…