Please forgive the formatting problems that made this post so difficult to read, we have updated it and are re-sending this to our partners. Thank you for your grace!

 

By Mommy Emily

I didn’t make it in time.

I was two hours away, lost in traffic in a taxi with a kind East Indian driver feeding me cherries and figs as he navigated construction.

I’d just flown in from Edmonton to Hamilton, having found out the day before on a camping trip with my family that Mum had less than a month to live. Maybe days. I rushed to the city (3.5 hours away) then slept a few hours, caught the first flight in the morning, and then found myself in a taxi reading texts about Mum’s breathing slowing.

Me and Mum when I went home to take care of her, summer of 2008.

Turns out she only had hours, and then, Dad’s text as I sat helpless in the taxi and the cherries tasted sour: “Mum has died peacefully.”

The cab driver patted my arm awkwardly as I tried to breathe.

When I finally got home I kissed Mum’s face and couldn’t stop holding her hand, as if my love could somehow bring her back, her body lying there in the living room on the hospital bed. Then the funeral directors came and took her away and I wanted to yell at them for taking my mother away and I ran out to the backyard weeping.

My one prayer request had been to make it in time. I’d been praying it for months. My sisters and brother had known I was the one who’d wanted to be there to help Mum transition into glory.

I was the one who’d gone home to take care of Mum when she’d first contracted brain cancer, 15 years earlier (details in my memoir, Atlas Girl, HERE. If you’d like a copy and can’t afford it I’d be happy to send it to you. Just email me your address: emily@thelulutree.com).

I was also the one to cause my Mum so much heartache growing up.

But God fixed everything when I left everything to go home. When I went home to care for Mum. And I couldn’t understand now, why of all the prayers I’d ever prayed, He couldn’t have let her stay alive just so I could say goodbye.

There, on the same lawn where I’d married my husband 15 years previous, the lawn dotted with gardens Mum had so carefully loved before getting sick, I heard the Holy Spirit say He’d been protecting me. He hadn’t wanted me to see her go. He said it would have been too hard for me.

This is God’s hard love. This is the place in which we need to trust that He knows better. That He is good, in spite of prayers not being answered the way we want them to be.

And this is the agony I enter into when interceding for the 99,000 children and adults who have been separated from one another since the civil war-turned-genocide in South Sudan. A country we’re trying to enter as a ministry. A people we’ve been praying for, for months, ever since the Lord told us to. He then directed us clearly to the refugee camps of Adjumani on the border of Uganda and South Sudan, where 1.4 million South Sudanese refugees live, 80% of them mothers and children. Only we’ve been waiting over two months for the prime minister’s permission to enter the refugee camps.

Mingkaman, Lakes State, South Sudan. On the road, heading to the tents after the distribution of food © Loredana Taglieri

As I pour over the articles in New York Times about hundreds of thousands of kids forming child-headed households and mothers who don’t even know how to spell their own names or don’t have a phone number trying to contact children who were separated from them when rebels came into their village with gunfire and machetes; as I sob again into the floor, asking God where He is or why He’s allowing all of this to happen, this separation of mother and child, He reminds me that I need to trust Him. That He is still good, in spite of an evil world filled with brain cancer and genocide, ripping families apart.

Photographer Jiro Ose travelled with UNICEF to Uganda to visit Bidi Bidi—the largest refugee camp in the world—and the fathers who’ve made the camp home with their children.

And then He shows me the church — He shows me hands rising across the camps, little hands, big hands, hands worn and wrinkled, all of them rising to touch the hem of Jesus’ cloak — and He shows me tens of thousands of angels carrying provision and, coming down and walking amongst the people, and He shows me The Trinity — the Father, Son and Holy Ghost — wrapping these mothers and little ones into their arms, enveloping them in a family that will never leave them nor forsake them. A family that Jesus came to give us when He left His Father to be born in a cold and lonely world, forsaking all so we might no longer be forsaken.

South Sudanese refugee and father-of-three Idro Erikole, 28, and his daughter Gloria Confidence, 3, play together in their shelter in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, northern Uganda. By Photographer Jiro Ose

Our God is good. His love endures forever, and we must never forget this. His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts, but if we press on — if we rise from the ground and shake off the doubt and turn resolutely towards the light — if we walk back up that hill into a house that’s just given birth to death, and we hug our grief-stricken father and sit down for a quiet meal with him, pausing first to thank God for our daily bread — then the Lord will rise up to fight for us. He will defend us, and will become family to us — mother, father, sister, brother to us — even as we wait for that glorious day when we should all be reunited again in glory.

**

Friends, we need you to storm the heavens for us. In order for the church in the South Sudanese refugee camps to know who they are in Christ, they need to be encouraged… right now they are so divided due to tribal conflicts and extreme poverty in the camps; the prime minister’s office is delaying signing our South Sudan team’s papers so they can go in and begin to minister and reunite the church and bring prayer clinics, business training, pastoral training, and hygiene kit outreaches. Would you pray to the God of Angel Armies that His will be done and that, should this be His plan (which we are convinced it is) that He open doors which no man can shut?

To learn more about our heart for South Sudan and why we’re going there, please go here: https://thelulutree.com/south-sudan/. To learn about the need for Hygiene Kits (which our mamas in Uganda, who’ve been trained in tailoring, make), please go here: https://thelulutree.com/hygiene-kits/.

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