Friday, August 12, 2011
Say hello to Brian! This precious little boy stole my heart right away, and I wanted you to meet him and hear his story. Brian lives just a hop step and a skip away from me in Namatala, the poorest housing area of Mbale. While I live in a 3 room carpeted, furnished, bug-free (mostly ;) ), beautiful apartment, it takes me only 5 minutes to walk to Brian's small mud and thatch hut where he lives with his mother, Regina and older sister. I first noticed Brian among all the many children of Namatala that swarm around the muzungus because of his clothing. That first day as Paul scooped Brian up in his arms, we were surprised to find that under the extra long, tattered, dirt encrusted, gray t-shirt, this bright eyed little boy wasn't wearing any shorts. I was later told that while he owned exactly 2 t-shirts, he didn't have even one pair of shorts or pants. Surprised, I determined to find out more about this little boy. Brian is the youngest of the 6 surviving children born to Regina (out of 12!!!!). From reasons we don't know, Regina suffers from many many ailments and is unable to walk or do anything besides lying on the mat outside her hut. While Brian is only 7 years old, many times the job of finding food and water fall to him. By 'finding' food, that is exactly what I mean. Some of the time they just rely on the charity of their neighbors, but since neighbors can't help all the time, Brian is out in the trash heaps searching for anything to fill their stomachs. They don't have money to buy clean well water, so Brian will walk to the river and fill his jerry can with that water made precious by the hard labor and weary feet required to obtain it. The family's only source of income is provided by Brian searching for small scraps of metal to sell in town, which brings in only pennies every now and then. As I heard his story and grasped his small hand, my heart wept. I knew before I came that I would be faced with poverty here, and that the needs would overwhelm, but looking down into Brian's face made it real. I started praying fervently for a long-term solution for this family. For a couple weeks all I could do was pull Brian close, hug him, laugh with him, watch him play with my funny white fingers, and pray, pray, pray! Last week, those prayers were answered! There is an organization here called I Choose You which sponsors children from Namatala to go to school and receive a monthly distribution of basic food supplies. Brian and his family have now been included in the monthly food distribution and have received the food they were so desperately needing! Now we're just waiting for a sponsor for Brian so he can actually start attending school as well.
There are definitely days when I'm frustrated with language learning and I wonder why I'm taking the time to do so. When there are so many needs right now to be met, and so many children to love on, why am I in my room studying?? When playing games, singing songs, and distributing meals can be done without words, why am I struggling so hard to be able to speak? But then I look into Brian's eyes and wish beyond all else that I could talk to him and know what he is thinking and feeling and wishing. I wish I could tell him that I love him, and that Jesus loves him with the words that will make him smile and laugh for joy. So I will continue on. Stumbling on in this language, and daily causing offense in this culture until I have learned well. Daily learning what it means to lean on Jesus and be who He wants me to be to these precious people.