We’re dancing in the living room, my two-year-old daughter and I.
I’ve been cleaning windows but she’s led me to the carpet, saying “up, up,” and we’re twirling now to Christy Nockels singing all about Jesus. Aria’s head leans back and she closes her eyes and for a moment, I am not checking off items on a to-do list. I’m simply being the arms around a little girl’s heart, and then I see them: all the little hearts I am holding in my arms. Because whenever a mother cares for her child, she cares not just for her, but for all the children this child holds within her, and so on.
And for a moment, I see each twirling the other, because I’ve taken the time to twirl her.
When you care for a mother, you’re not just caring for her; you’re equipping her to care for her child, and for all the children to follow, like a long shiny ribbon wrapped around the earth.
And when a mother is not cared for — when she is denied the help she needs to care for her little one, and her child dies — well, then the ribbon unravels.
(I know it would be easy to stop reading here, friends–please don’t? Yes this is hard stuff, but there is hope, too…)
Nothing can prepare you for the words, “Clementina’s baby has died.”
Little Charles, the chubby baby I’d personally held just weeks before when I’d left my own babies for my annual visit to Uganda to check on operations and encourage the national team. The baby whose dimpled hand had gripped mine as I’d walked around the Teen Mama School of Hope, where his own 16-year-old mother attends, as I observed volunteer teachers scratching out fractions and grammar on three separate chalkboards in three makeshift rooms in a building kindly loaned to us until we can construct our own.
Nothing can prepare you for the questions: Could we have done more? What was wrong? Why hadn’t we noticed? Why did God let this happen? What right had we to run a ministry if little children were going to die on our watch?
Then — the anger, as the answers came: as we found out this teen mother had TRIED to get help; that, when her son had appeared lethargic and dehydrated, she’d taken him to the public hospital but they’d refused her because she had no money and so, he’d died in her arms. When the solution could have been so simple.
No, nothing can prepare you for the desire to blame and then the recognition that you’re all to blame and then huddling together and weeping together — us from across the cyber-waves; them — gathering with Lulu pastors and their wives and their families of 10 children each and the teachers and teen mamas and their babies and their mothers and siblings and our Lulu Uganda staff… and Clementina, with her empty arms hanging low.
We gather, here and there, after a three-day Lazarus fast, and we worship a God who promises to turn all things for the good of those who love Him, who’ve been called according to His purpose. And as we worship — us there, and them there — three stones are rolled away.
One, being the stone in Clementina’s mother’s heart. As the worship rings around her in the local language of Busoga, she reaches out and receives Christ for the first time in her life.
And it’s as if that stone rolls against another, which had been keeping Clementina from smiling the entire time we’ve known her and all of a sudden, out breaks glorious day and a smile so pure and radiant like a child has in fact been born.
And then, the third stone — the one keeping us from purchasing land in Jinja, and suddenly a donor sends the full amount for purchasing two acres: not just to build a school and a dorm for the girls, but to build our OWN medical clinic where no mother will ever be denied the help she needs to care for her baby.
Aria and I are resting on the couch now.
The songs keep playing around us and before me, I see them dancing —
the children whose hearts I hold in my arms.
Friends, we’re so excited to share the above video with you–we’ve been working hard to put together a video about the first school in Uganda for teen mothers; would you consider sharing what God is doing through the lives of girl-children like 13-year-old Zion in the hopes that we can help care for more mothers?
Here’s the link in case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNFMJGbDzP4.
And if you want to read more stories about young mothers whose lives are being changed, please go here.
To partner with a single mother in honor of your wife or mother this Mother’s Day (and receive a thank you gift from our own Lulu mamas in return), please visit HERE.
Prayer & Praise Items
*continued healing for Clementina (who will remain studying at the School of Hope)
*praises for more partners for our teen mamas allowing us to now have 14 mothers and their babies attending the school
*praises for the provision of land in Jinja
*praises for provision for us to start a dorm for the teen mothers and their babies
*praises for a pastor’s wife who is volunteering as a School of Hope nurse
*prayers for continued provision for the school and medical clinic, and for protection for these precious families.
May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord give you peace, my brothers and sisters.