I have wanted to write about something for years, and have not yet been able to do it. I started this post with the intention of writing about it, but spent most of it skirting around what I really wanted to say. I’ve decided to post the first part of what I wrote and post a second post next week. I need time to continue to write what I need to say, and I have the feeling this post would be entirely too long if it wasn’t broken up somehow.

In the summer of 2005 I was sent to serve in an orphanage outside of Maseru, Lesotho by the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s Collegiate Missions program. I had spent ten days in 2004 in Kenya, and felt called to a ministry of love and compassion for two months. I knew deep in my heart, in that place where you know only God is speaking, that while I longed for this experience and would find it rewarding and satisfying, it would a time that would break my heart. I knew, before I even had a plane ticket, that I would see babies succumb to AIDs. I knew, and I went anyway. I knew, but I didn’t really understand.
I didn’t know that in 2009, almost four years later, the hurt in my heart would still be there, would be as real as if the events of that summer had happened yesterday, and what I imagined would be a season of pain would seem like it would not be a season, but something I would carry with me for the rest of my life.
I have seen great miracles. I have held a child who had been HIV+ positive during a second test – a second test that came back negative. I have held a child who was found in the streets by police officers, taken to a hospital where nurses declared her to be dead, and took her to the morgue. The police officers suspected the infant wasn’t actually dead, and pressed for doctors to examine her. This girl was not dead, but ALIVE. I have held a child born months too soon, malnourished and dehydrated, a child who should have died several times already, yet there he was, alive in my arms.

dsc02914Miracle Angela, who nurses thought was dead.

But I have seen death too. I have held children, loved children, who are now held by Jesus. Cried when doctors said, “there’s nothing we can do. There’s nothing we WILL do.” Been broken-hearted when the hospital couldn’t even provide a dying child with aspirin to bring down her fever and relieve her pain. I have held, loved and kissed these children, seen their bereaved parents, and known that these precious babies rest with Jesus.

tebello1Sweet, sick little Tebello, now resting peacefully with Jesus.
mostislis2Darling Motsilisi, who came to us the day of Tebello’s death, is with Jesus too.

I fell in love in Africa, with each of the 25 babies that came through our doors, desperately miss the one we buried while I was there, and the second sweet girl who was buried shortly after my departure. But, there was a tiny boy who captured my heart, and whom I love as I have never loved anyone else on earth.