Being a father is not always something that I excel at. I certainly have my moments of frustration, and my moments of failure. However, I also have my moments where my role as a father gives me a unique purpose and calling from God. I am proud to be the father of Gideon and Abel, and my wife Abby and I also have another little guy or gal on the way in November.
Stepping back and forth between the different worlds of Uganda and America volunteering for Sweet Sleep sometimes pose some challenges for me as a father. It is easy for me to project my own frustration with the consumer driven world in which we live on my children. It is easy for me to get more quickly upset with Gideon and Abel upon my return from Uganda when they whine, fuss, or don’t listen based on the desperate needs that I witness in the orphanages. I hope that I am better able to control my frustrations, and inner struggles in the future, so they understand the love that I have for them, and the desire I have for them to know how others in this world live.
My incredible wife has always understood my call to be a father, not just to my boys, but to the fatherless as well. Her support and encouragement are one of the things that allows me to “go,” and to attempt to stand in the gap for these beautiful children of Uganda. My first trip to Uganda took place just one month after Abel was born. Although it was hard to leave my family, I felt God’s calling on my life, and I knew that I was called to go, but without Abby’s understanding spirit it simply never would have happened.
In a country where many fathers are abusive or simply absent, I have found a quick bond with many of the children, and a burden to show them fatherly love and support. As my journey with Uganda continues with Fields of Dreams in the future, I hope and pray that God will continue to entrust me with the task of loving, supporting and speaking truth into the orphaned and vulnerable children of this country that I consider my second home.
On my second trip to Uganda, I forged a special bond with a boy by the name of Dallen at Blessed Hope Champions Academy. I am now unsure about his whereabouts, but I continue to pray for his life, and hope that we will be reunited on this side of heaven. Although I only spent a short week in his presence, it is amazing the bonds that God can forge through the incredible ministry of Sweet Sleep. I want to share with you the letters that I received from Dallen during that week, and the important work that Sweet Sleep does in the lives of these children.
Letter One: (Delivered by Dallen on our 3rd day at the orphanage)
Dear Uncle Mike,
I greet you in Jesus’ name. I love you so much and your friends. I like to be with you every day. I will be not happy when you have to go back to your country, but I will pray for you every day. You will be in my heart all of my life.
Letter Two: (Delivered by Dallen on our 4th day at the orphanage)
I love you so much. I have seen that you love me. I am going to call you Daddy. You are a good daddy. I write this letter to thank you for what you have given me. I have seen that God loves me and you love me. I am very happy. I am now loving God because you have taught me how to love someone. I greet you with your family and your friends. Sweet Sleep is very helpful. I am 10 years old. I promise you – you will be in my heart and my life. I have a sister called Vannitta. May God bless you. Good day.
Letter Three: (Delivered by Dallen as we were loading the bus on our last day)
Dear Daddy Mike,
I love you so much. I promise that you will be in my heart and my life. Please write for me a letter telling me how you feel when you are with me and write for your young boys. Thank you and thank you very much. May God bless you.
From your loving son, Dallen
Letter Four: (Delivered by my friend Amanda after spending 3 more weeks with Blessed Hope)
Dear Daddy Mike,
I love you so much. I greet you in Jesus’ name. I am happy because you are with your family. I wish one day we shall meet in your country. I pray for you every day and will never forget you in my life. How is Gideon and Abel and your wife. I thank you very much. I will miss you even my heart is caring for you. And I wish I could bring you a present But I have not money to come there. I am very happy because you are with your family and they were missing you. You left your family because of me and God loves you.
From your loving son, Dallen
So yes, I am the proud father of two incredible boys, Gideon and Abel, and another on the way. But I am also a father to hundreds of exceptional kids in the Pearl of Africa. I may not get to tuck them in at night. I may not get to teach them how to ride a bike, or hit a baseball, but they are nonetheless my children. We are called as Christians to care for the orphan and the widow, and for me, it has honestly become the most rewarding aspect of my faith.
Happy father’s day to my incredible father, whom loved me enough, that he traveled with me to Uganda last year to understand my passion for this country and its people. I am the youngest of five children, and my father has been a great example of what it means to care, support and provide for his children. And because of this trip, my father now has another child, she may not join around the table at Christmas, but Sarah, a girl in Uganda, has found a place in my father’s heart.
Mike Warneke <> June 21, 2012