This Father’s day was my favorite. We now have three kids that demand our attention all day and all night. It is hard work, requiring more of my time than running a school and working at a health center combined. It wears me out- the tremendous energy input, the insatiable demands and the constant decision-making regarding problems I have no idea how to solve. Is this child sick? How can I convince them to eat healthy food- even if it is the 4th time we are eating pumpkin that Amy has cleverly disguised? Why do they keep waking up in the middle of the night? Who hit who first? Whose toy is this? How much time should each get to have to play with this favorite toy? How do you convince them that mosquito nets are fun? What filthy toy, floor or child is ok for them to play with? How do I help them extend grace when children do things to them without knowing it is hurtful? How do I give them individual time when 4 people are waiting in the katubi with problems they need help with? Do I read a Bible story tonight about a boy or a girl?
Despite all of these complicated processes, I would not trade it for the world. My children are fast becoming my best friends. I love walks to the river, song time, playing “The Missing Cake,” crashing cars and making crafts with them. They constantly remind me that God loves me, God’s kingdom is here, we need to share His love with everyone, and it does not have to be complicated. Interestingly, the above complicated questions are the same ones I ask myself regarding our ministry to the people of Bundibugyo everyday. Thanks for the training munchkins!
This father’s day, they reminded me of these truths through a puppet show musical that described our life in Bundibugyo. An excellent production, especially for the young and up-in-coming Director Lillian Joy. Despite the warning on the sign, we laughed a lot with tears of joy streaming on our faces.
In addition to these little ones making fatherhood so precious, I am filled with appreciation for my dad and father-in-law. They have constantly sought to love me, encourage me and guide me in the trials of life. I am filled with fond memories of teetering on canyon walls and treating HIV patients in Africa with my dad and killing rattle snakes and sandboarding with my dad-in law. I constantly refer back to advice given to me through the years and constant reminders that God will provide, we are blessed to bless others and I am loved. They are a great joy for me. This joy makes being in the heart of Africa thousands of miles, three airplane rides, an 8-hour car ride and 3 days away especially hard this week.
Thankfully, my mother-in-law gave me a e-book for my nook before we moved. The book is entitled Fathered by God. What an amazing concept. God wants to “father” us. I am still learning what “to father” means, but I am discovering that I need and desire it. I need daily help regarding problems I have no clue how to handle. I need guidance in decisions that can lead to terrific and potentially terrible outcomes. I need encouragement and sometimes a small push to lead. I need to know I am protected and provided for so I can seek to protect and provide for others. I need someone to remind me to stop and see the beauty that surrounds me as I am being swallowed by the task. God desires to give this to me! His grace allows me to seek Him despite my brokenness. It even allows me “to father” despite the barriers of my own selfishness. I have a close friend, confidant and encourager here with me in the heart of Africa. I have never needed it so much. I also have never felt it so much.