Shortly after the Grace Church of Orange mission team departed for home, another mission team arrived to work with 1Hope, but this team is from the wunderbar country of Germany. This amazing team is composed of 18 members who are energetic, eager and efficient experts in what they came to do. They have come to work on projects in three places: the Baby Home, the Mack’s home and the Lester’s farm. In just a matter of days we witnessed: an unsound wall come down, and a strong, sturdy brick one constructed to replace it, a leaky roof stripped off and a watertight one put in its place, entire bathrooms completely gutted and redone, insulation installed, trees uprooted and drainage problems solved. Just to name a few… 1Hope has been incredibly blessed and encouraged by their service.
In the midst of all this destruction and construction by our German brothers and sisters, we received a surprise visit from my very own sister and brother (in-law). Without our knowledge, my sister, Jocelyn and her husband, Mark, planned to visit us during her school’s Spring Break. Mark is a talented film-maker by trade, and so, of course, the entire “surprise” was documented here. If you click to watch this, please know that I was already in distress before the surprise because I desperately needed to use the restroom, but my dear friend, Marda, unable to hold the suspense any longer, told me not to!
We had a wunderbar week spending time with them. Here are the highlights:
Wednesday Night Fellowship in Salvakop. We and members of the German team visited our brothers and sisters’ homes in Salvakop and offered encouragement and prayer. The “homes” I visited were very small shacks no larger than a very small bedroom. The life in Salvakop is heavy, difficult and full or burden. That evening our friend, Linda shared that learning of the hope she has in Christ through the Wednesday night Bible Study and attending Living Hope Church has helped to lift the weight of her worries and troubles. All praise to our mighty and merciful God!
Thank you Mark and Jo for your visit! We are so thankful for you, encouraged by your visit, and love you very much!
Anyone else want to come for a visit? Our door is open and you are more than welcome…But please just tell us in advance. Don’t know if I could take another surprise 🙂
Who is Muphamuzi? To end this post, please read the beautiful story of redemption found in the life of Muphamuzi Mack. My very dear friend, Marda Mack, was recently asked to tell her son’s story and this is what she wrote. May it remind you of the great love our Father in Heaven has for us.
Our sweet Muphamuzi will never know his story or understand the impact he has made on our lives and the lives of others. He is a happy content little guy that finds most of his joy in time with daddy, pizza night, and watching shows:).
He was born on March 16th, 2004 and is now 9 years old. He was born HIV+ and we were told he must of had a stroke in his mother’s womb due to her being extremely sick while pregnant with him. His story is not clear since he was abandoned but the paperwork trail says he was left at a government hospital as a very very sick little baby. The hospital chart shows that both him and his birth mom were admitted on their “death beds” but the mom checked herself out and left him there. The social workers assume it is the nurses who then gave him the name “Muphamuzi” which means “give me a home.” Since most babies born with HIV head downhill to AIDS at a rapid pace without meds he was already with full blown AIDS. Once being put on ARV meds he recovered enough to be moved to a Place of Safety called “Door of Hope.” They however could not keep him because they do not care for HIV+ babies. He was transferred then to a Children’s home for HIV+ children where he would spend the rest of his life like all of the other children there – because HIV+ children are “unadoptable” according to most people. Not because of the child or the virus – but because of people own misconceptions of the virus.
In 2007 we moved to South Africa and couldn’t wait to love and hug on children who needed a home. We had 3 girls, so we decided we would only adopt girls and keep the rooms pink and the Barbie collection growing:). We had visited a particular HIV children’s home several times and we decided that for us we really did not mind if a child had HIV and it seemed they, more than anyone, really needed a family. I phoned the director and asked if she had any little girls in need of a family. She told us she had a little girl that they really needed to move because they had no more room, but that there was also a little boy that came to their home the same day she did and he is really attached to her and he “is such a fragile soul.” I don’t remember us really discussing it, or thinking about it, or spending hours or days praying about it – I only remember Josh and I thinking “a fragile soul?” How can we say no to a “fragile soul?” So, we painted a room blue and picked up two children (a boy and a girl) November 2007. We look back now and think how very crazy (and God ordained:)) that we did not ask anything about these children – the only thing we knew is that they were HIV+ and needed a home and that Muzi was “a fragile soul.”
A fragile soul he was. He was 3 years old when he came to our home. He was not potty trained, did not walk, did not talk, did not smile, did not laugh. He ate everything including paper and sand and anything he saw lying on the floor in his reach, and we learned quickly that he would keep eating at any meal until we actually stopped him. If we set him on the floor he would have been content to just sit there and not move all day, if we let him. Josh and I would often comment to each other “I wonder where he is,” there was just no person in that little body. He was deathly afraid of Josh coming in to hug him goodnight and would scream and crawl to the corner of his bed. He took his ARV meds every 12 hours and because of all these meds had a continual runny tummy. Every morning and every afternoon after his nap I knew I would find him covered in diarrhea from head to toe and so showers and washing bedding became a normal part of our day. Showers were also “torture” to him and so the battle to clean him off became a time I would get hit, kicked and soaked in the process but once all was clean he was very content to just hug. Over the first several weeks in our home we had to teach him how to play and how daddy coming to hug him goodnight was SO FUN:)!! By the time he had been in our home for 3 months he would often let out a strange noise which we quickly noticed was a laugh:), he thought daddy was a very funny guy! We had a brain scan done during that first month he was with us and the brain scan showed major damage to his little brain.
Over the first year with us he learned to walk, talk (a little), laugh A LOT, and LOVE playing!! We worked hard to teach him to dress himself, feed himself, sign language for a water, please and thank you. We took him for some therapy and the therapists said after looking at the report from his brain scan and spending time with Muzi they were having a very hard time believing that brain scan belonged to this little boy. The damage to his brain shows a little guy who should just be a “vegetable” they told us. We smiled and just could not believe that giving this little guy a home, a family had made that big of a difference. Muzi is 9 years old now and by God’s great grace and kindness has this past year been totally potty trained. He “talks” and tries to say everything and HE LOVES TO SING:)!!!! He will never be able to learn academically but has more joy than most people you will meet. God is so good, so kind!!
Muzi has taught me a lot!!! There were times during our morning “wash off” that I would think “how in the world will I do this when he is 16 or 17 or 18?” God reminded me that He will ALWAYS give the grace needed IN THE MOMENT – and we were managing quite fine in the moment and to worry about the future was really a waste of the time God had given me because I knew His grace would be there in the future:)!! Josh and I also realized how we are a lot like Muzi in the shower – God is trying to clean us up from our junk and sin and we are kicking and screaming as if “living in that junk” is what we would prefer:). I am also so so thankful for the way God has taught me to do all I can to live in the reality He has given me. Many mornings I would stand at Muzi’s door and pray “please Lord, let his bed be clean this morning!” Well, day after day I would be hugely disappointed and Muzi would then have to put up with a very frustrated mommy washing him off. One morning I thought “this is really silly and unfair for me to ‘wish’ this.” I knew he would be filthy and his bed would be covered so instead I started praying “Lord, I am going to open his door now and we will start our morning together washing off, please help me love him.” Wow, that has helped in so many ways in my life with 9 kids. Going to bed at night with 3 kids under 2 I stopped thinking “Please let them all sleep through the night so I can get good sleep”:) and started thinking “I am going to lay down now and wonder when my first little one will wake up and need me.” Living life in the reality of what God has given me and being thankful is something God has used to give me such joy – only by His grace alone!!!! It really makes me cry just to write all the difference our dear Muphamuzi has made in our lives!!
We also realized every time we looked at Muphamuzi that although it is good to bring loads of food, bags of clothing to orphans (which we did many Saturdays to a nearby township where we would play games and share the gospel with the kids) – no matter how much we brought those 60 kids every week, they ALL STILL NEEDED ONE THING – A HOME!!!! Each little face was crying out “MUPHAMUZI”!! That is what really steered our minds to what we believe is the BEST way to care for orphans – take in abandoned babies and pray God will place each of them in a family – “give them a home”. This little simple-minded guy is who inspired Muphamuzi Baby Home. Because of his little “fragile soul” God has used the baby home to already care for 10 babies of which 5 have already been “given a home”!!
Muphamuzi will never know the impact he has made in our lives and in the lives of others; but so often we can look at him and think “wow”, he was given a home and he calls me “mommy” and loves loves hugs goodnight from Daddy!! His favorite answer to any question at devotions is “God” or “Jesus” and if you ask Muzi what his job is – he will tell you “OBEY”:). This little fragile soul loves Jesus without any questions of His love for him! It just is!! God made him and Jesus loves him – he knows those 2 very important things!!!
The truth is, if we had known Muzi’s full condition at the beginning we probably wouldn’t have taken him in. We are that selfish. What’s amazing about God is He knows our full condition and He was still willing to go to the cross for us so that we could be His children. Awesome.
As you celebrate Easter, may you be astonished and amazed anew at the empty tomb and all that the Risen Lord has accomplished on your behalf!