Friday, December 31, 2010

The Ones Left Behind

I was looking at the website of an orphanage in Kenya that someone had told me to check out. They said on their website that when they received a child they would test them for HIV/AIDS and then if they were negative they would find them an adoptive family. If they were positive they were settled into the orphanage for the long haul, expected to just wait there until they turned 18 and aged out.

One tiny little + sign destroys their life. You might think it’s because they are sick or because they are dying or because they are contagious that they are stuck in that orphanage. That’s not the reason. It is because of lies, misconceptions, and stigma that they are stuck.

I wish I could gather the entire world together and stand on a big tall hill and yell…

HIV can NOT be transmitted by hugging, kissing, touching, changing diapers, sharing drinks, or wiping noses.

HIV is spread through sex, shared needles, or from mother to child. There has NEVER been an instance of accidental transmission in a household setting.

Children on ARVs (HIV/AIDS medication readily available in the states) are expected to live normal lives. They will be able to marry and one day have children of their own.

If I took you to that orphanage in Kenya you would never be able to tell me which of the children were HIV positive and which weren’t. I could leave you there for years, allowing you to unknowingly change diapers, clean cuts, wipe noses, and give kisses to the positive kids and you would not contract the disease. (The only way for this to be possible would be if an HIV positive child was bleeding, you were bleeding, and you put the two cuts directly together. The HIV virus dies when it hits the air so touching spilled positive blood with an open sore wouldn’t even give you the virus).

The only difference between the positive and negative children is that one needs medication and one doesn’t. And of course that one is left behind, while one is taken home.

Jesus doesn’t see the HIV positive kids differently. He doesn’t give up on them because of their status. He doesn’t separate them out from the healthy ones and shake his head sadly at their hopeless future. When God commanded us to look after orphans, he didn’t mean just the healthy ones. He didn’t mean just the cute ones. He didn’t mean just the babies. Orphan care isn’t supposed to be easy.

What can you do?

Spread the word! Write a blog post, make a facebook status, and/or tell your friends the truth about HIV/AIDS (you can use the video below to help)

- Donate to organizations working to bringing these kids home ( and )

- Consider adopting a HIV+ child

- Know a family considering adoption? Ask them if they’ve considered an HIV+ child and share the facts with them

- Sponsor an HIV positive child. You can do this through World Vision, Compassion, etc… or if you want to support a smaller organization check out Our Own Home, an orphanage in Uganda for HIV+ children.

Got more ideas? Let me know J

Help empty those orphanages. Help end the lies, misconceptions, and stigma. Help bring these beautiful kids home.

* facts taken from

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Heart Baby

This is the story of the baby that stole my heart. This is the story of how God taught me how to love and more importantly how to let go. This is the story of Esther.

During the summer of 2008, while I was on a mission trip in Costa Rica, God used the book of Esther to first call me to a life lived for orphans. Since then the name and story of Esther have always held a special place in my heart.

I arrived in Uganda on January 21st. On February 6th a baby girl was born to a young man and woman in a remote village 45 minutes outside of Jinja. Her mother died giving birth to her. Her family named her Esther.

3 week later she arrived at Amani and into my arms. She rarely left them for the next two months. I knew it was dangerous to let my heart love her, but I also knew that I was called to a life of love, no matter the consequences.

And there were consequences. When I left her to go to another orphanage there were times I thought my heart was going to rip in two, I missed her so much. I cried buckets of tears over her and prayed and prayed about how I could be involved in her life. I wanted to stay in Uganda and love on her forever, but I knew God was calling me home for now.

I’ll never forget the night I said goodbye to her to leave for America. I held her tightly to my chest and sobbed, struggling to pray over her through my tears. I bathed her sweet body and snuggled her into pajamas. I stood over her bed for minutes, trying to delay the last moment I would put her down. I whispered into her ears that I loved her, that I would pray for her every day, and that I knew God had a plan for her life. And then I put her down and I left.

The next few months in America were some of the darkest of my life. I worried about her constantly, I cried over her daily, and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. And God said, “trust me… I’ll take care of her… I am the father to the fatherless.” Each day I struggled to place her in his arms, only to fail and try all over again.

In September Kelsey and I started Obukuumi sponsorship program where we worked to get children like Esther home with their families. I secretly dreaded the day when we were given Esther’s file. My worst fear was that we would be forced to send her back to an unsafe or unloving home. I’d also been told some things that lead me to believe that her home was not a healthy environment to return to. The night before Kelsey was scheduled to visit Esther’s home I was in a state of full-blown anxiety (yah God is STILL working on me with the whole trust thing…) but Kelsey loved her family and had nothing but praise for the home environment. Concerns I had before turned out not to be true.

Yet I selfishly was not happy for Esther. I didn’t want to lose our skype dates, the pictures, the updates on her personality and new accomplishments. I thought I’d let her go several times before, but I was forced to realize that I still needed to. Our God is faithful and he slowly over the next few weeks taught me how to fully place Esther in his hands.

Today Esther went home with her Jjaja (grandmother) and I can honestly say I am so excited for her. I still love her to pieces, but I don’t worry about her anymore, and I miss her less. I trust God that he will take care of her and that he has an incredible plan for her life.

This journey has brought so much pain, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I let myself love Esther with my whole heart and watched it tear to pieces when I left her. But I am coming out of this dark tunnel and I can say with full confidence that our God never leaves us nor forsakes us. God has and continues to walk me through this journey of loving and losing.

So when I lay eyes on the next child God calls my heart to love I’ll jump in head first, even though I know full well the pain that follows, because I have full confidence that God will see me through to the other side.

Essy girl- I love you. I miss you. I am so honored to have cared for you during your first months of life and so grateful for all you’ve taught me. I’m sending you kisses and prayers from America. Welcome home.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


God with us.

It is the promise of Christmas; that He is with us. For 33 years he was with us in human form, but today he is still with us in spirit. With us when we weep. With us when we rejoice. With us when we question. With us when we know.

"He doth give his joy to all;
He becomes an infant small;
He becomes a man of woe;
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh
And thy maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear
And thy maker is not near.

O! He gives to us His joy
That our griefs He may destroy;
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan"

William Blake

Hold on His promise this Christmas season. His everlasting promise that he is with us, both now and forevermore.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All I Really Want For Christmas Music Video

Orphan Care

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
Isaiah 1:17

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.
Matthew 18:5

I understand that not every christian has as much passion as I do when it comes to orphans. I understand that there are tons and tons of other causes and concerns that your heart could ache for. I don't think everyone is called to adopt. Not everyone is called to go to Africa or China or Russia to work in orphanages. Not everyone is called to be a foster parent. But I do believe as Christians we are called to care for orphans in one way or another.


Become a foster parent

Pray for these kids

Write a check to an organization working with orphans

Encourage adoptive families (make them a meal, offer to babysit, be a friend who doesn't judge, send letters or e-mails)

volunteer at an orphanage

Sponsor an orphaned child

Financially support a family who is called to adopt

Purchase clothing, hats, shoes, etc... that support orphan care and send a positive message

DO SOMETHING. Because every night over 147 million children go to sleep with no one kissing them goodnight. How are they supposed to understand our God's love for them when there is no one modeling it for them here on earth?

DO SOMETHING. Because our God's heart breaks for these children and wants YOU to do something about it.

Need someone smarter to convince you you're called to orphan care? Check out this article in Christianity Today from their July issue

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 Million Realities

Today is World AIDS Day.

25 million people have died of HIV/AIDS
That is 5,500 people every single day
2.1 million children under 15 are living with HIV/AIDS
14 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS

Her name was Peace. She was estimated to be about one years old. She was being fostered by one of my good friends but due to legal complications Peace had to come to Amani for a few weeks. Peace was so sick. TB. HIV. Pnuemonia. Sores. Malnutrition. The sores in her mouth prevented her from sucking a bottle so we would spend hours squirting the milk into her mouth until she was so exhausted she would fall asleep. There were moments when we were brought to tears at her pain. Those nights when she cried her weak cry and we felt so helpless knowing this tiny baby was in more pain then we had ever felt. And so we prayed. And prayed. And prayed. This beautiful baby girl had people across continents praying over her frail body.

She proved the nurses and doctors wrong by gaining weight, getting over her TB and pneumonia. I will never forget the first time she smiled. It was beautiful. Her smile filled her whole face and it brought joy to anyone who witnessed it. Baby Peace got healthier and healthier every time I saw her. Her adoptive mommy and the others who had the privilage of caring for Baby Peace all dreamed of the day she would walk. The day she would talk. The day she would laugh. The day she would run. God had performed a miracle and I was reminded of it every single time I saw Peace's gorgeous smile.

In July I was in the US volunteering at a teen summer camp. I didn't have internet access and lost my phone on the first day. The last day as we were packing up to leave I found my phone in someone's sleeping bag. I had 3 text messages from a good friend. "Did you get the FB message about Peace? She is really sick. Pray for her." "Peace is really bad. The doctors said there isn't anything else they can do. PRAY." "She passed away Meg..."

Beautiful Baby Peace was gone. HIV/AIDS claimed her body for its own. Of course there were times where I doubted God's miracle in her life, but today I see it once again. It's World AIDS day and instead of posting statistics that leave people numb and stationary I see my friends posting pictures, stories, letters, poems, etc... to Baby Peace. Peace is turning those statistics into a face. A reality. A Baby. A loved one.

We know Peace is in heaven, her precious body disease free, but that doesn't mean her story is over. I have a feeling it is just beginning.

This is one story of one baby that HIV/AIDS stole. Multiply this by 25 million. 25 million faces. 25 million stories. 25 million realities.