Confession: I was mad at America all day on 4th of July.
I was the Grinch of the 4th of July.
In America, it was a day to celebrate freedom. The entire country came together around BBQ pits and sprawled out under fire-cracking light shows.
In South Africa, I felt swallowed up by oppression. It felt like things wouldn’t stop falling apart, and I missed the Light show as I stumbled to try to find a few more pieces to pick up.
The emergency calls started just before midnight.
Sweet little Given began fainting and had to be rushed to the hospital.
There’s not enough time or patience in the system here to explain to a 22-year old, SiSwati-speaking mother of 4 with a 9th grade education what’s wrong with her baby – so no one has yet.
He just spent his second night there. We don’t know why.
Healthy, happy Given on Sunday
Lifa and I said goodbye to a dear friend, Lindsay, as she loaded up 2 months of memories to take back to Texas.
Something triggered in Lifa - all the goodbyes and all the transitions. He spent the rest of the day fighting me, melting down on me, and remembering all the people who’ve come and gone…. Concluding, of course, that Jesus must live in Texas.
We brought Charity and Kevin home with us for dinner and baths. (They were still wearing Sunday’s church clothes.) They were even more lethargic than normal, absorbing the stress of Kevin’s twin, Given, being hospitalized.
Kevin threw up on the couch.
Charity’s eyes sunk even further in.
But we cleaned them, they ate, and they slept in warm arms for a few hours.
Nandi was safely returned to her mother’s home a week and a half ago. The church intervened; I watch closely; and her mom seems to be coming around, even joining us to worship on Sunday.
Yesterday I found out that she ran away again.
And a friend I admire tremendously, who is serving at refugee camps in South Sudan, wrote me yesterday with pictures and prayer requests. She asked me to pray for the children of Yida – they are dying every day due to malnutrition. The refugee camp is maxed out, beyond an ability to maintain proper hygiene, and there’s a life-threatening emergency every moment.
I woke up this morning, on the 5th of July, saying,
“God, is it time yet?”
Is it time for babies to stop dying?
Is it time for homes to stop being too scary to stay?
Is it time for goodbyes to stop hurting?
Of course it is.
He hates it more than I do.
I’m here to stand for Hope and Homes.
To walk it, talk it, live it, give it.
Some days I feel like it’s happening. I KNOW it, see it and get my hands dirty in it happening.
Those are the days when we do it together.
On Fridays at TTH, the whole staff loads up and drives down the bumpy mountain road to Neli’s house. A child-headed household of five sick, struggling, beautiful children have been abandoned and crammed into a tiny room for way too long.
We don’t have enough money to finish her house yet.
But we have enough Hope and Home in us to keep showing up.
We come with what we have, and we give it.
We’ve made miraculous, truly miraculous, progress in four Fridays.
When we all pick up a shovel…
When we all look for and pour out God’s love on that parched land…
Home is being built. In more ways than one.
As a staff, we’re seeing God in each other and celebrating it.
We’re watching Him build Home together – using our hands!
The 10-year old man of the house, Mpendulo, picked up a paintbrush last week. He wanted to be a part of this Home.
Shy Neli’s sharing her fears and her dreams with me.
Thuli’s asking for help to go on a field trip for school.
We celebrate birthdays with cake and parties.
We work, we feed, we treat wounds, we build Hope.
Home is built in us.
On Fridays, I’m incapable of being the Freedom Grinch.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
And where His people come together, there is the Spirit of the Lord.
He can’t resist unity.
While I was scowling, He must have been giggling with delight as he watched his red, white and blue-clad children join together in thankfulness and celebration.
It’s freedom time. It’s been signed, sealed and delivered. I just have to look up at the fireworks.
There’s freedom when everybody picks up their shovels.
There’s freedom when we know the pieces we pick up don’t pay for our freedom, but can help build Home.
There’s freedom where we are, when we are doing it together.
On the 5th of July, and on all the days after that, I won’t let the real Grinch that come that comes to steal, kill and destroy have my freedom. Or anybody else’s.
Let’s do what you did yesterday, with an eternal twist.
Let’s come together, unified in the purpose of celebrating freedom.
Let’s wave Zion’s flag high, and sing the Hope-Spangled Banner.
Let’s lay on the grass, or maybe do cartwheels, under the most dazzling Light show we’ve ever seen.
Let’s sing and shout in anticipation for the Grand Finale.
Let’s eat together, and share what we have.
Let’s open our doors and invite people over.
Let’s call down unity and love in every country, under every flag, and on every day.
Let Freedom Ring.
**Since writing this blog, I’ve spent the day in the children’s ward at the hospital. Given was having seizures due to high temperature. He was being tested for meningitis, but after the results came out negative, he was discharged. He was so happy to see us and seemed to be feeling much better. Continue praying for his health!