The Devil is a liar. This is a phrase that I often here in Uganda. I'm not sure why we don't use it everywhere.
This last week I had the privileged of traveling to Jinja with a woman who is working with people with disabilities here in Uganda. She travels around the country empowering nationals and those working with people with disabilities with trainings and encouragement. I'm honored to have met such a noble woman who dedicates her life to helping make other's lives easier.
We went to two orphanages in and around Jinja who serve people with disabilities. The second one was in the middle of a sugar plantation! The first is the one I would like to share with you today.
We drive down the street and I couldn't have missed it. Children are sitting on the raised porch. They are a all lined up in their wheelchairs. They are so excited to see their good friend, the woman who brought me. We begin greeting child after child. It is easy to notice that many have CP. Their arms and legs are bent and their muscles are working against them. I have worked with people with CP many times and so I know that the brain over muscle control is strong and these children can't help their spastic movements. I offer my hand and wait. Some are eager for the challenge to get their muscles to cooperate for the connection of hands which will suffice for a handshake. Others this challenge is far too great and I quickly grab their hand and shake it for them. I ask their names and some who can speak feed me the information. I greet each by name. There faces beam up at me. They are so happy to meet me. With the exception of one, the woman who brought me says that she's always grumpy :)
From the entry way comes bouncing two children. They are so excited to see my friend. Peter, can't contain himself. His little legs, not developed for lack of walking pressure, jet in and out behind him propelling him along. His arms, with clenched fists, are on the ground holding his small body up. He has mastered the art of crawling even with the extreme difficulty his muscles give him. He cannot contain his joy and burst of joy come spilling out of his mouth in screams and yells. I am happy to be here with him.
Once inside I am hit with the smell of urine. My thoughts go back to an orphanage I visited in Burundi. At that orphanage the children openly urinate on the floors. I am impressed at this orphanage the children all have on makeshift diapers in the form of towels, the workers quickly wash the floors as accidents happen. The children all look healthy and clean. Again I am happy to here there.
While on the tour I see how much the staff members care for these children. They know them by name and seem to be working on a different skill with each child. Children are taken for physical therapy. The supplies aren't many but you can tell they are used and the children's muscles are stretched to keep them functioning. There are multiple small bedrooms and the children have a bed of their very own to sleep in with a staff member in the room. At night a staff member is in charge of only 4-8 children at a time. This is such a great day for me to see such great things happening for children.
During meal time I was sitting next to a boy, he looked to be about 13-15years old (I could be very wrong). He was being fed and was having much difficulty. In the states most of these children would be tube fed. That just isn't an option in this village setting. The children instead are fed the local food of rice or posho (think of a corn flour dough ball). I was able to help this boy turn on his side and cough out the food that had blocked his airway.
While feeding a woman entered the room, this was the director but also the mother of this boy. The boy (not pictured) was so happy to see his mother that he started humming. She had such love and care for her son. She had taken what seemed, the the world around her, a bad situation of having a child with disabilities and had reached out to other children who found themselves "left out in the cold". This woman's heart shined through. She really did care about those who Jesus showed such love for in the gospels.
When asked what the best part of my three day trip I easily said it was this center I visited. It was such a blessing to see a mother of a child with a disability reaching out to other children in her area with disabilities, some of which are left under a tree to die.
This is where I come to the title of my post. Three days after visiting this center and seeing the lovely faces I received word that the director's son, the one I helped while eating, had died.
My thoughts went directly to that phrase "the devil is a liar." This was the encouragement that Isaac and I received when we lost Elijah. We didn't understand it at the time but as the minutes and hours after his passing moved on the devil's lies seemed to creep into our thoughts. We were so vulnerable that if not careful his lies could have walked right into our souls. People around were so well meaning but things they said weren't true. Things like, just get over it. Don't cry he wasn't even alive when he was born. Things like, you'll get another one. The devil used those thoughts to creep as far as we would allow them. It was great to have Isaac around because we worked the guard shift for each other. When one of us would say something that wasn't right we would correct the other. Feeding ourselves truth instead of lies. We were believing truth, even though it hurt sometimes.
I just received a call from my friend. She stayed for the funeral and to support this mother. She said that the things that people said were so hurtful. "Why do you morn over a lame person, you should be happy." These people's words let us know that they have completely missed the person lost, all they can see is the burden lost. I praise God that this mother didn't see her son as a burden but as a person. We are all made in the image of the Almighty God and if we dismiss that then we miss out on the full image of who God is. Perhaps it is strength in weakness, perhaps it is something else about his nature that he wants to reveal through these precious ones who for no reason of their own seem to be trapped in bodies.
The funny thing about the devil is that he is predictable. I had only met this mother for 2 minutes while she was greeting her son and yet I knew what lie the devil would throw at her, "all your work was in vain, he died anyways." What a hurtful message. I've heard that one from him before. He uses it in so many situations, I was all prepared for something and it was canceled, I wrote an application or did a job interview and was rejected, I poured my heart and soul into something and people don't show up. Again and again I hear the deceiver's words come through, "all your word was for nothing". I'm glad I know that he is a liar and the work was not in vain.
For this mother, my prayer is that she would not listen to the devil and that she would continue to serve people with disabilities and letting them know that Jesus loves them. This the devil doesn't like and this he will do his best to fight against.
Please join me in prayer for this, mother, her family, the staff members, and the other children who cannot express their sorrow for the loss of their friend.