Saturday, August 13, 2011

I Thought I Was Ready...

I had packed. And packed some more. Checked off lists.

I was prepared.

I was ready.


Until I walked into Z's orphanage at mealtime. Until helping put over 50 children to bed. Until watching children play with dilapidated toys. Until just holding our boy. But more about that another time.

I am compelled to write about what happened tonight.

Today was my birthday.
What a day! (More about that too another time.)

We went to a very popular place for a meal and it was nice. Along the way there were a few children begging. All in all, I have found Uganda cleaner, nicer and generally much easier than I had expected.

We had finished our meal and were returning to meet our taxi driver. I turned around and noticed Brian was far behind me. I figured he had stopped to give some money and love to the little boy who sat on the corner. Just about the time he caught up with me, I saw another boy sitting in the dirt along the sidewalk. About a step and a half after I passed by (saying to myself, "No, I will NOT pass him by!") I spun on my heel and knelt down.

"What is your name?"


"Are you hungry?"


"Today is my birthday and I would like a hug." (Stupid, I know, but I wanted to hug him. Who knows the last time he had one?) He gladly obliged me.

I asked him if he would go with us so we could take him to get something to eat. He quickly gathered his shoes made from leftover tires he had hidden in the bushes and I put my arm around him and we walked.

Suddenly street children came out of the woodwork. I don't know how it happened. But I was tunnel-vision focused on Stephen though asking him questions all the way.

"When did you eat last?"

"This morning." (it was 8:30 pm)

"What did you have?"

"A donut."

We found him a chicken filled bun, and a bottle of clean water. Brian bought two of them for him, expecting to fill his stomach. He politely smiled for 2 pictures and we sat down at the tables together. We had to pass through security to reach this location and my heart about burst when I told the guard with my arm around him, "He's with ME."

As he politely ate his food, he answered my constant stream of questions. His story came tumbling out...who was the last person who'd cared to hear?

An almost 14 year old orphan, Stephen had come to the capital back in January. He has avoided hanging out with most of the street children and blushed because he didn't know how to tell me...because they use drugs. (I have read a great book about life on the streets called It's Not Okay with Me and learned about their brain frying street-made drugs they take to lose consciousness.) He said it meant he had but only two friends. He said he felt lonely.

I asked him how he looked so clean and where he went to the bathroom. (Because I'm a sanguine and I don't always know the right thing to say!!) He pointed down the street where there is a public toilet and a place he can wash up. He washed his shirt recently. He looked good.

He continued to share his story beyond, "My parents are dead." And I learned his father was a taxi driver near the city but was killed when a bus hit him. His mother died back in their village (the name of which he told me 3x but I simply could not get it) in her bed when a loud shock of thunder apparently gave her a heart attack. Stephen is the oldest of 4 children. The others are back with other relatives (he only shared the same mother with them) and no one cares about him anymore. All of this was not told to me as a story or to pull on my heartstrings. Just answering each question in between his bites.

Stephen wants to be a doctor. He wants to go back to school. He used to attend a boarding school here before his father was killed. Now, he begs on the street for a simple meal.

Stephen did not eat that second chicken bun. I mentioned it, but he said, "oh no, I'm going to share it with my two friends." When we learned that, we promptly bought the friends their own bottles of water.

Our taxi had arrived and my heart fell and shattered all over the red dirt. We prayed a second time over Stephen, embraced again and I begged God for how we could help him MORE.

He asked me if I'd be by again and I assured him I would. I want nothing more than to put him on a plane with me and adopt him too...but that's not how it works here or anywhere. There are orphan investigations, legal processes on both sides of the ocean and time to be waited. But Stephen is sleeping on the streets right now. He cannot wait.

And my heart breaks...


  1. It would be a good idea if you could get Hamzza involved with this boy. Do you know Hamzza he is a former street child and does work with kids in the slums as well. Prayers to him and to you. Blessings!

  2. Yes! Kelley, he is my first phone call tomorrow morning! I had the SAME THOUGHT in the taxi coming home!!! Pray that this connection can be made!!!

  3. I thought the same thing also. If he gets into the PCA program he will hopefully be sponsored for boarding school and he will have a place to live and an education. Is there anyone out there that would like to sponsor him if he did get accepted?

  4. You will never be the same. I know I am not. There is a daily struggle thinking of the "Stevens" and the injustice of it all. May God give you vision and clarity...something we all need as we struggle with the precious, "Stevens" out there. Praying that for you right now.

  5. Wow. I am brought to tears. Please let us all know how we can help.

  6. Beautifully heartbreaking! You definitely put feet to your faith this day! Praying for Stephen and all like him. ~Lord, Make a way where there appears to be no way. Comfort and protect Stephen as YOU prepare the days ahead.~

  7. Thank you for such an inspiring post. What a great ending to your birthday. Love you.

  8. My heart is full of both joy and sorrow! Joy because you reached out to one in need. Sorrow because there are so many others like him. I am reminded of the Watoto village. Praise be to God for people who care. God bless you Amy and Brian!

  9. Amy, what a beautiful birthday present, the heart of our Father to love someone enough to take the time to make a difference. My heart is so overwhelmed by your updates and posts, sometimes I just burst into tears! Can't wait to hear it all again face to face!!!! Praying the Fathers continued provision with each new day in Africa. Love you, Kiki

  10. You have an amazing heart to love Amy. Whomever is in your family is very blessed!!! The kids you adopt are going to know God's love in an awesome way!


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