Just a couple of quick things before I let my thoughts of the day come out to share with you.
First, I wanted to thank everyone for the great thoughts or encouraging words you've shared on the blog, in my email or on my Facebook (feel free to join our cause by going to our website or however else you like to do that sort of thing). They've been quite encouraging to us.
The second thing I'll share with you is the craziest story I've heard in over five years of working with orphaned and abandoned children. At the last orphanage we visited today we were doing the usual...meeting all sorts of kids who immediately come running up to you and say "Hello, I am fine." because that's the English they know. They all like...no, LOVE to shake your hand. It's so fun.
Anyway, I watched one determined boy make his way to us. I could tell he was developmentally delayed and I struggled to understand everything he was telling me in his lengthy introduction. A woman from the orphanage came over to translate for him. Here's the story.....you'll not even believe this. Apparently there was a war in Uganda in 1986. Somehow or another he was found or taken by MONKEYS into the jungle where he lived with them for FIVE years. He was just under one year old. A woman found him all those years later and removed him from his monkey family. I'm serious. Isn't that amazing?
I rather enjoyed my question time with him. I told him he was a real live Jungle Boy and he laughed. I also asked him if I could call him Mowgli. That seemed fine by dear old John. They said that he had been on the news and everything and that the directors of the orphanage had officially adopted him. He said the monkeys fed him bananas and the things they ate. Apparently he also walked on all fours, like he had seen him monkey momma and poppa do. Wild. I asked him if he liked sleeping in a tree or a bed better. He laughed and said that he had slept on the ground next to the tree and that he actually like that. He told me he has a dream to learn English and to talk better. I told him I could tell he was really smart and I was sure he was going to achieve his dream.
Dreams were kind of the theme of our day. I like people who dream....especially when the odds are against those dreams. The stories behind the dream holders always seem to give me goose bumps.
Take for instance the first orphanage we went to today...run by an amazing and hilarious and joyful pastor named Joel. Pastor Joel shared his life story with us...he himself was an orphan and felt his life had been blessed by God in that others had provided for him to have an education and things that he might otherwise never have had. He told God he wanted to provide for 500 orphans to have a chance for a future before he found his way to Heaven. He's well on his way to that dream.
Within a year Pastor Joel's remote orphanage will be self sustaining. He has one of the best schools in the region and each year they add a grade to their orphanage (they're up to the 7th grade now, which is close to done as far as regular schooling goes here). In 2010 he has a dream to begin vocational training programs for the children there. I like that dream. It's one of my one that Sweet Sleep has been involved in for a long time.
Sweet Sleep has a dream this year, too: our 1,000 Beds Project. In 2009 we hope to provide 1,000 beds to orphaned and abandoned children who need a place to sleep. Children who've endured so much heartache and need a place to dream.
I am confident and thankful and excited that you are all a part of the dream for so many children. Each and every one of you can pray for these children, for this ministry, for the directors and staff who work tirelessly to care for them day in and day out. Each of you can share about the work of our ministry. Each of you can pray about whether God would have you GO on a journey with Sweet Sleep to minister to these children. And, you can also pray about how much God would have you give this year to help make these dreams a reality.
Tomorrow we head to Jinja, Uganda. I'm off to dream about what the possibilities there might look like. I might say that I would expect my dreams would be sweet....except for the fact that Stuart just called my attention to a lizard the size of an armadillo inside the window screen. I'm going to imagine that it's a mosquito eating lizard.......
See you in the next blog,