|Ruth and Timothy with Ethan at Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda|
My first adopted child Ruth is simply beautiful. We first saw her when she was six weeks old. Even as an infant she had thick diva hair and long captivating eye lashes. My dad saw her for the first time when she was two years old. He pulled me aside and said, “David, I’ve never seen a girl this beautiful. I can’t believe her eyelashes.” When Ruth enters a room I watch all the men notice. She has very unique features. Her hair and skin color are like the people from northern Uganda. Her facial features and body are refined and softly round like those from western Uganda. I’ve had strangers in both America and Africa courageously move past stares and ask, “Where did this girl come from? What is her story?” All we know is that she was abandoned outside a home in Kampala, went from Sanyu Babies home to our home, and is our daughter with all legal and relationship rights.
Ruth is growing into a woman. Life is changing.
The teachers, headmaster and bazamu at her school make her daily educational life safe. The men who pastor with me make her church life safe. The leaders of our umudugudu make our community safe. My dad, brothers, and sons are all strong and when near Ruth keep her safe. The leaders of Rwanda have made Kigali a city so safe I don’t worry when Ruth walks through the streets to visit friends. I am immensely thankful to all.
Yet, I know the fate of a beautiful young woman in a world where no men protectively watch her. Beautiful young women outside of families are often mistreated, exploited, and then harshly judged. What if God had not placed Ruth in our family? God guides our lives. However, we make choices that have consequences.
|Gabriel Mugisha Jacobs with the nurses cared for him in Rwamagana|
Yet, I know the fate of a handicapped child who is not in a family. They are labeled. If they are in an institution competing with many other children they lose the initial competitions. The extra care of a dad or brothers who run is never given. They become victims instead of victors. What if God had not placed Timothy in our family? God guides our lives. However, we make choices that have consequences.
My foster son, Gabriel Mugisha is a blessed messenger. His life has been too short for us to see all God intends. Yet, we know that he has a remarkably strong will to live. His story and spirit captures all who meet him. He was born on 11 March in a village weighing only 1.3 kilos. His biological mother abandoned him at the Rwamagana hospital the next day. He came to our home 8 weeks later weighing only 1.5 kilos. He now weighs 5.1 kilos. Doctors at King Faisal Hospital found a cyst in his brain on August 10. For 3 months it has been irrelevant. Now Mugisha is having convulsions. We do not know where this will end, but we have seen God do the remarkable through Mugisha. The most recent doctor’s appraisal is that Mugisha needs medication to manage his convulsions. After several days of medicine the convulsions are declining. We are all hopeful.
Yet, I know the fate of a premature baby who is not in a family? Most do not live. Most do not get the chance to fight for their lives with the support of a family, church, and community. What if God had not placed Mugisha in our family? God guides our lives. However, we make choices that have consequences.
Ruth, Timothy, and Mugisha all received a God intention to be a part of a family. Without that opportunity their lives likely would be tragic. Now, they are full of all the promise of childhood. Statistically, they are the fortunate few. There are thousands of children who are not part of this fortunate few. Yet, each day in Kigali thousands of us drive a car to work. If we can afford to drive a car we most likely possess the resources, network, and creativity to care for one more child.
Some may look at our family and conclude we are some type of “great men and women of God.” That appraisal is mistaken. Those who know us best know that what good we do is simply the result of God’s grace. This grace is available to all.
|NYIRAMATAMA Zaina, with Mark, Chelsea, and Gabriel MUGISHA Jacobs|
Thus I conclude. What if God had not placed these children in a family? God guides our lives. However, we make choices that have consequences. These choices are by grace. Grace is available to all.