my feet dangle from the exam table. my head bent down as i wait for the doctor to change the packing in the wound on my back. i stare at the hardwood floor. then the modern curtain and the scale in the corner of the room. the ac is running on a warm day like today.
i’ve just returned from uganda. i got a bug bite that needed to be drained and was put on an antibiotic during the process so infection would not set in. after seven days into the medication – fever, nausea, shakes, chills, and rash took over me. a medical team at the hospital, including a tropical disease doctor, worked around the clock to gather blood work, monitor my heart, check my vital signs, and give me plenty of fluids. i would press a button and a nurse would come to bring a cold cloth or refresh my cup of water. the technician ran a clean ship with her slip covers on everything that touched me. no germs. no way. as a i looked to my right out of the hospital window, i waited for the sun to set or the fog to take over. tests were being run to see if i had malaria, a parasite, dengue fever. with only the beeping sounds of medical machines and the heavy breathing of my roommate, i laid in silence. the tears left my eyes, making a trail to my ears. i was thinking of only one thing. saddam.
saddam, our sponsored child through compassion had malaria this past december. while in uganda, ben and i were able to look through his files and see his hospital record that showed he was cared for. he didn’t have to fight this at home. he didn’t have to die from this. i sat looking through this child’s files. i have received many letters from saddam at home and have gathered our boys around the kitchen table to write him too. when we tuck the boys in at night, we pray for all our children. the three we physically have in our home, our little girl in india, and our two sponsored children. i felt one step closer to him on his red soil. holding his medical history. gleaming over his school records.
ben told me he lives nearby the church. ben came last year with epic and compassion and met saddam. we were coming to the ugandan church daily to work with the people and to meet kids at the school. we were coming to encourage and be encouraged. but the next day came, and stephen, our interpreter and saddam’s school teacher, would walk us to saddam.
we walked out of the church grounds
and up the city streets
past a few storefronts
and turned between some homes.
saddam. waiting in his very best for us.
his mom greeted us at the door and ushered us to the only seat in the one roomed home.
she graciously took to the floor.
all of us were all smiles. it was one thing that translated well.
ben and i took turns letting saddam know how proud we are of him. we commended him on his school work.
i told him how i have longed to come and meet him this year.
ben reminisced of their time together last june.
we spoke of school and hard times. we shared of our boys and their interests.
we learned that after a year of fear that they were living in peace.
gifts were given. of shoes.
oh! of shoes. he was so happy for shoes. and of course, there was more gifts for him.
he read aloud cards that elijah, sam, and asher wrote him.
with those dimples, saddam would look up between each card and grin.
we shared gifts for the family. it was a joy to see their joy.
with our compassion partnership, we also got to deliver a box of food staples to saddam and his family.
to the curtain behind us napped saddam’s niece. to the right of the door stacked the pot and pan.
to the left were the bananas that saddam’s mom sold for a living.
and to the curtain before us stashed the few possessions the family owned.
yet, oh the joy.
i asked saddam’s mom, “your smile is beautiful. what gives you that smile?”
“the grace of God. He is good to me.”
and now i’ve seen two worlds.
the one from which i came with a target store to buy the gifts.
fast food chains to satisfy hunger. coffee shops to indulge caffeine habits.
clothing stores reminding me i’m one season behind on the latest trend.
and the one in which i stand with the cares of the world being food for the day.
yet it’s the same grace that flows from the same God to all of us.
we can give so much to saddam.
and we give and pray differently now that we’ve been with him.
in the few short years that compassion international has entered his life,
he is attending school and attending compassion’s saturday classes.
he’s getting fed physically and spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
he’s learning what it means to follow Jesus and the beginnings of the skills necessary to make a living one day.
when the men in the culture around him abandon women and children,
saddam is learning how to follow God and His ways.
it’s more than a sponsorship. we’re holding his hand through this life.
we’re cheering him on through primary school and beyond.
we’re praying he pursues his dream of becoming a policeman or pastor one day.
we’re daily asking God to take care of him and his mom and sisters.
i write to him differently now. for i’ve seen his world.
i have held him and looked that dimple-infused ten year old in the face.
my life is richer for sponsoring him.
and regardless of what has passed through my body since i’ve been back in the states,
nothing will stop me from seeing him again on his red soil.
i’m getting stronger with each passing day.
the doctor told me today that there will be a scar from the african bug bite.
i’m okay with that.
it’s a reminder that i live in one world, but there’s a part of me in another.
choose to change the path of a child's life today by sponsoring through compassion international.