Thursday, December 10, 2009

Loving Arms of Jesus

I want to thank all of you for your prayers and thoughts and messages over the last few days.

This post is going to be a bit long but one of the reasons I started this blog was that it is a way for me to journal the things we go through here--not having a woman near by on whose shoulder I could cry is hard but this outlet has made it a bit easier. I pray that this particular post will point you to my God and that His goodness will ultimately be glorified.

I had such hopes that Matete would pull through but on Sunday night she took a turn for the worse and we traveled up to the hospital for a new IV line. Her hand and arm had swelled terribly from the first line (which was also leaking) so we removed it. It was difficult to get a line in because her veins were so small and dehydrated. I was quite upset by how bad she looked. Tom kept telling me that Jennifer had been much worse off and I tried to keep the faith. 
  We finally got the IV in her scalp and took her home. She also got an injection to stop her vomiting and I took a vial home to inject her with again if she continued having trouble. At home I added more dextrose to her IV line and adjusted her IV. She slept and seemed ok. I dozed through the night always rising often to check on her. As the morning drew near her lungs began to rattle and I could tell the end was near. I held her on my chest and we just cuddled.

When we first opened our orphanage we decided that we didn't want to take in babies or toddlers with HIV because we didn't feel up to the task of dealing with all their medical needs. Tom especially didn't want to have to deal with the death. He's so tenderhearted. While we were still building we had a chance encounter (ha ha--no such thing with God) with a missionary who has been helping raise orphans for over 20 years. She told us how she had lost 6 babies in the previous year but that we couldn't let our lives be led by fear. That life and death is in God's hands. This really resonated with Tom and we decided together to just let go and let God.
  One thing that helped move us even further in this direction is that we can't always tell if a baby has HIV when they are tiny. The simple test is only accurate once a child is 18 months old. The more precise test takes 2 weeks (at least) and usually a child needs our help right away. Once we've taken them in we can't see tossing them out again just because they need more long term care.

Last year while I was on a trip to the States we had our first baby death. Tom handled it so well but it did leave its mark on him. By a miracle of the Lord's timing I happened to be on the phone with Tom when it all happened and we prayed and communicated a lot over the next few days.

Then between April and June of this year we lost 3 babies. It was the first time I'd had to deal with death up close and personal. Tom was here for the first one but not the next two. The first one came to us so sick that it wasn't really a surprise--although still very sad--that she passed away. It was my first experience with death and I found it hard to get used to. The next baby was a bit of a surprise because he came to us as a brand new born baby but he never ate and just shriveled away to nothing. I took this one hard because I had worked tirelessly to get him to eat or grow but he just didn't. In a different place he may have had a bevy of tests done and we could have found out what was wrong. But this is not a different place and we have to trust God for where he has placed us and each of His precious children.

In June we lost our (then) youngest baby to a bout of pneumonia. It came on fast and within a day she was dead. I really had a hard time with this one because it was so unexpected. I also felt I had failed because I had been looking after her all day--walking the floor with her, patting her on the back to relieve the congestion and making sure she got all her medicine. Finally at 1:30 AM I lay down next to her. I asked the Lord to wake me if she needed anything and fell asleep. 
  When I woke up at 5 my first thought was for her. I turned over and saw her sleeping peacefully. There was a split second of relief and then awareness. I fell apart for a while--had a scream and cry. I did blame God, I'm ashamed to say, because I had asked him to wake me and I felt he had failed. Later on, after prayer and some encouragement from friends, I realized that He had answered my prayer--there was nothing I could do for her and he spared me from watching her last moments.

  Because of this experience though, I was determined not to leave little Matete at all. I was so grateful that she would feel loving arms around her as Jesus welcomed her into His. I kissed her little head and stroked her hair as she drew her last breath.
  God has really worked in my life over this past year. I know that His will is perfect. While I don't believe that I will ever be ok with the suffering, God has given me so much more peace.

  As I was reading blogs a couple days ago I came across the blog of Katie, a young woman serving the Lord with children in Uganda. She is such a good example of someone who gives their all to Him. This blog she wrote spoke to me so much. It really echoed my thoughts. I was grateful for the Lord reminding me that I'm not alone. To find this post just when I needed it reminded me yet again of the Lord's love.


  1. Wow! You, my dear, have an awesome attitude and a gigantic heart! I am so terribly sad that little Matete passed away, but how wonderful that she spent the last few days of her short life with gentle, loving, people who tried so hard to help her. I know she had to feel the love all around her.
    As always, God bless and keep you.

  2. Oh, Amy! I am so honored to be able to read what is in your heart. It is truly a blessing. Thank you for sharing. I am visiting from SITS and wanted to share a bit of comment love. I'm so glad I stopped by!

    How amazing, and yet heartbreaking, your work must be. I can not imagine running an orphanage, especially with all the terribly sick babies you have had. I have always had a heart for those who are sick. I worked in the medical field for many, many years and then I served in Medical Missions for several years before I became too ill to continue. (It is a LONG story, but you can read about it on my blog if you'd like.) It makes me so sad that I was unable to continue but I know the Lord's plans aren't always the same as what we have in mind. :o) I just have to trust that He has a reason for what I'm enduring now.

    I'm really tired now but I will definitely be back to read more about what you and your husband are doing there in Africa. I would absolutely LOVE to be able to visit and/or participate in a outreach in Africa, specifically Tanzania, sometime. We have a 'son' there who we've sponsored for about 7 or 8 years. We would give just about anything to be able to meet him one day. It would truly be a blessing. How far are you from Tanzania?

    Well, I will be back soon but in the meantime, I will keep you, your husband and your precious children in my prayers. Take care, my new friend.

    In Christ Alone~

    Teresa <><

  3. Dear Amy,
    It's so wonderful that you can put things of your heart into words.
    I really admire you and Tom and the work you are doing...
    God bless you


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