Age 11. When I was 11 my mother began pursuing her dream of becoming a college graduate. She dropped out the first time to have me. My baby brother was just one year old and her studies required much of her time. I was so excited for her that I didn’t hesitate to learn how to cook and swooped up my brother each night from his crib to sleep in my bed. In fact, today my brother would say I am his second mom.
This is why Hajara’s story struck me and pierced my heart. At 11, she was having her first baby. The first of 7. She was cooking and coddling at the same tender age but in a much different role and in a much different environment. As her family grew, so did her responsibility. And at the age I was able to let go of family responsibilities to pursue my own college degree with never ending tests, she was taking a test of her own. One that said she was HIV+. While my whole life was ahead of me, hers was looking more and more bleak. And not only was SHE given this diagnosis, so was her husband and infant son, her seventh child.
Her story broke me. As I wrestle with stateside comments about how on earth I get through my days being the mother of three boys, she is just trying to live. Trying to feed her family and stay healthy despite HIV and TB. God had me on the best collision course I could have ever asked for. This woman, my HOPE + sister, has changed my life despite living an ocean away. I could tell you that I no longer take my amazing health for granted or the fact that I can choose between Italian food or Mexican food on any given day. But what she has offered me is a new perspective on my own Hope. I think I mostly took for granted that my Savoir offered me the only hope I will ever need in this life. Every day is a gift from Him. Every day that I get to have relationship with Him and others is now more purposeful. And I am humbled that I get to pray for and write to my HOPE+ sister about THIS hope I have. This HOPE is the anchor for my soul and I desperately want Hajara to have this anchor too for she is muslim.
The latest update on my sweet sister is that she purchased goats. I am pretty sure this is my first time to cry over goats but whatever. She looked healthy, healed from the TB, and her smile in the photo makes me happy x10!
My husband just phoned the best news to me today. He is on his first trip to Uganda and what a trip he has had! As he left I told him he would likely not meet my sister. She lived far from the house he was building a pit latrine at. However, a great new collision would happen. As the men finished their building they arrived at the village church to see the new building that was recently built. The whole village was there. Including Hajara! He wept as he relayed the meeting. He was moved that she would walk the 40 minutes to get to the church. And then she presented him with about 20 avocados. What a sacrifice on her part. A mother who said she didn’t always get enough food! What a day to rejoice!
I can barely hold back the tears today. I arrived in Uganda 4 days ago with the anxious excitement of seeing my Hope + sister. However, the news I received 2 days ago has me more excited than ever to get to this day. You see I received the news that Hajara had accepted Christ as the Savior of her life. And today I worshipped OUR Savoir with my sister! She arrived late and I ran to her, tears streaming down my face to embrace her neck and meet her beautiful 5 year old son. Her son held my hand and slept on my lap. And my sister sat next to me radiating the hope she has found. To celebrate my sister receiving her HOPE, her Anchor, is an overwhelming feeling. A feeling that kept me from eloquent words at her home. A feeling that had me crying once more over goats and sheep and cows. A feeling that will undoubtedly change me once again as I return home.
You will not regret your decision to give a hand up to a HOPE + sister. And I guarantee God has something to give you too! Become a sister and change a life. Change YOUR life!