On a summer Sunday in 2013, Conor and I arrived at church with our two babies. My friend, Leesa, was in the lobby area chatting. She began telling me that she and her husband were preparing for a mission trip to Kenya. They were going to visit our mutual Kenyan friends Richard and Hellen Makani who had started a feeding center, school and orphanage for children in Kitale, Kenya. While I stood listening to Leesa's excitement and hope in helping these orphans, the tears began rolling down my cheeks. Rolling. That conversation stuck somewhere inside of me.
A week later I was sitting on the couch with Conor, probably while also feeding my sweet, chubby baby. "I want to sponsor another child in Kenya," I blurted.
He stopped, looked at me, frowned a little, raised his eyebrows, and reminded me that we could hardly pay our mortgage. But if this was serious and I really needed to do it then he would help make it happen.
We were already sponsoring two beautiful teen girls in the same orphanage under the care of our friends Richard and Hellen. We did have some difficulty feeding, clothing, and sheltering our babies at home. But we had a car, we had a home, Conor did get a small paycheck once in a while. So we made it work. We just decided that things were going to get better for us and for the children in Kenya. We chose to hope and believe that God would take care of us all.
Hellen told us the other side of this same story when we met Promise in person in Kenya last October, 2016.
Promise was living in the Kipsongo slum with a small group of people when he was nine years old (2013). None of them were blood relations but Promise lovingly refers to them as brothers and auntie.
There is a black market in Kenya. Someone is selling shoe glue to kids. They huff it and it makes their brains swell dangerously. While they are high these boys are able to eat trash to stay alive. Beyond the threat of starvation, there is pressure to join a gang, sniff glue and survive together.
Promise saw his friend was being recruited to join the street boys, as they call themselves. So, he went to Mum Hellen and asked her to take his "brother" into the orphanage. Hellen told me this was the first time a child had come to her asking for help, not for himself but for a friend.
At the time Hellen and Richard were focused on rescuing only girls from the slum, but her heart was moved by Promise's selfless cry. She decided to invite his friend to live in the orphanage, knowing that Promise would continue life in the slum. Some time later, she received a phone call from Conor and I. We asked her which child needed sponsorship most. She said she knew right away that it was Promise and our call was an answer to her prayers.
Promise made an incredibly courageous choice and put his brother's needs above his own. Hellen found some wiggle room at the children's home. We stretched our budget and our hearts a little further. And a way was made for hope and a future for one little boy who now calls me "mum." He held my hand, I kissed his head. I cupped his cheeks and told him he is loved and wanted. Loving him hurts. I miss him. I want more for him. Caring causes pain and it drives us to action. It seems the only way to ease that ache is to care more, love bigger.
"We were made to give," said my friend Mandy on her blog a day ago. This is the sixth year she has hosted a raffle to raise money to provide clean water and jobs that keep it flowing in Uganda. I am donating some prizes and I would love it if you would join me by bidding in the raffle starting Saturday. Mandy is partnering with The Adventure Project and Water for People, all rallying around World Water Day, March 22, to create more jobs and even a piping system for clean water this year. I will post my items later this week. For the latest please visit Mandy's page.