A Special Guest

jenThis is a blog written by a friend and fellow missionary Jen Hathorn.  Jen is a U.S. doctor serving at Egbe Hospital through World Medical Missions.  Add her blog to your reading list… For His Glory

“Come on. Hurry up!” Keeping these thoughts to myself, I valiantly work at reigning in evidence of my impatience, but it’s a challenge! The slow in-take process seems to have stalled out and there is still a long line of nursing students waiting for health exams who stand between me and my plans for the evening. Sucking in a deep breath, I let out an extended sigh and force my mind to reconcile to the reality that it is already 5PM and there is certainly no way that I will be leaving anytime soon. Today is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. This year it’s a lonely one. No one around me is sharing in the excitement of the day. No one else is relishing the rush to finish work, the push to get home, the anticipation of gathering for a feast with family and friends. No one else is taking the time to find little, big or even silly things to be thankful for. No, for those working at the hospital, today is just another Thursday in Egbe.

Its well after 6 o’clock by the time I finish seeing the last nursing student and all the other patients who trickled into the ER during that time. Seun made two loaves of wheat bread earlier in the day (Katie graciously took them to the guest house for me), so only the honey roasted carrots and broccoli casserole will be no-show’s at our dinner, casualties of my day. Before leaving the hospital I catch up with the resident on-call, make a pit stop at my office to write a few memos for tomorrow, then locking up I make one more stop, the one I’ve been waiting for all afternoon. Greeting the nurses on duty in maternity and the women’s ward, I remind them of my plan for the night. Because I forgot to bring a bag I scoop up an extra diaper and a small feeding bottle filled with the powdered formula for an eight o’clock feed, and fit them into the pockets of my skirt. Then I quietly enter the nursery and pick up sleeping Lily Anne. Finally, its time to go home!

lillyLet me tell you about Lily Anne. She came to the hospital 12 days ago the center of a vortex of noise, confusion and anger. One of the hospital staff had been plating her hair when she and others heard the muffled cry of a baby. The cry persisted and as no one could locate the source, a search commenced that quickly had the group stopping in horror as they realized the cries were coming from a locked pit latrine. The owner of the latrine refused to remove the lock, so the police were called and after breaking it they removed the heavy stone that covered the latrine. Everyone peered into the dark recesses of the pit, a pit created to collect human waste, and saw a little bundle at the bottom. Lily was that bundle. Wet and still covered in birth fluids, she had been wrapped in two pieces of cloth then shoved into a plastic bag, her umbilical cord still attached. Discarded like trash on the day of her birth, a day when she should have been celebrated and loved, Lily’s first few hours of life were raw and dark. Thankfully she was found! Since coming to the hospital hours after her rescue, countless people have come to “claim her,” she has been visited by the King and many chiefs, and she is now waiting for a family to adopt her through the state’s welfare system. Almost everyone in the hospital and around town know her story and Lily Anne is doing great! She was unharmed from her time in the latrine and until she moves on to live with her adopted family, she is thriving here with her hospital family!

sue-and-peteI brought Lily to our Thanksgiving meal, she was our special guest! She was held by many and cooed and prayed over. People commented on her sweet face and peaceful sleeping. We marveled at her story and at the obvious mercy and grace that has been present in her life. Over and over people whispered in her ear that she was alive because God had great things in store for her. Someone even wanted to change her name to Destiny. At the end of the evening, as I was taking Lily Anne back to the nursery for the night, the guard at gate B asked to hold her, one more person who marveled at the gift of her life.

How very thankful I am tonight! Thankful for what Lily Anne’s life represents, for she carries the distinction of bearing a story that mirrors the greatest story ever told — the story of redemption. Intended for death, she is alive. Covering her life is the certainty that good is greater than evil. That life is more powerful than death. That grace and mercy triumph over sin. That light extinguishes darkness. Unfortunately Lily had a premature encounter with the harshest reality that every human will come to know during life — in this world there is evil, raw and dark. I have yet to meet a person who has not felt the torment of the evil caused by sin, their own sin or that of another. Not a soul past or present has lived to escape the shadow of death. And every heart has tasted the bitter poison of pain. There are times when this wickedness traps us and we feel confined. Hopeless and abandoned. Thrown away like useless rubbish. Sinking to the dark bottom of a great pit, left alone to die. Left…Alone…To…Die…

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Redemption tells the rest of the story. It tells of the story of a broken stone that was moved away. It tells of the merciful arms yearning to cleanse and heal. It tells of the Father anticipating the moment he could make us his own, adopting us into his glorious family. The story of redemption is extraordinary, made all the more vivid when contrasted against the darkest of evil. Are you living a redemption story? Have you experienced the great power of Jesus breaking away the chains of your sin, releasing you from the darkness that trapped you? From the perspective of humans on earth, sin feels powerful and overwhelming. From the perspective of the Eternal, Almighty, King of Kings, the very source of power, sin is nothing more than the first chapter in the greatest story ever told — the story of redemption.

A Birthday, Miracle!

img_2187Friday was Parent Visitation Day at the kids school. As Katie and I went we were a little worried, a little hesitant, kind of dreading the visit. You see, for the past year Iyanu (Miracle) hasn’t been the kid to receive too many compliments from outsiders. Lets just say I don’t have a bumper sticker saying, “Honor Roll Kid Dad”!! In fact his teachers, friends, and even family are quick to tell us, “That boy is stubborn, he plays too much, his grades are poor, he has a temper, he is always up to no good!” So, driving to school Friday we prepared ourselves for these words. As Iyanu’ s father these comments sting. Especially because this isn’t the Iyanu I know exist. Sure at home he has his moments, but he is good; he is kind and loving. I know hidden underneath that tough, stoic exterior is a heart of virtue. The condition of his heart is what gives me hope. He can learn to be thoughtful and respectful of our family and others.
img_2319Well, I left school that day with a heart so FULL. Like the feeling of hitting a walk off grand slam. His teacher sat Katie and I down and said, “She had NO COMPLAINTS. His attitude and work ethic has improved a lot, and his results show the same!” We asked, “Are you SURE there is nothing we need to work on?” And she assured us, “No, he is doing fine!” As we turned to look at Iyanu sitting beside us his face was beaming- all smiles! We hugged him, and celebrated in this small victory. Later explaining how proud we are because change is not easy. It takes humility, and it takes work! I always tell him a quote my Dad told me growing up, “If it was easy everybody would do it!” Being a good parent, son, worker, and CHRIST FOLLOWER is not easy. To make the commitment day in and day out is what separates you from the rest of the world. Iyanu has made the decision to change, and I couldn’t be prouder.

img_1521Well today we celebrate his 11th birthday, and my 1st as his father. A fast growing 11 year old; I know him and I both still have a lot of work ahead. However, I am beyond grateful to the Lord for how far He has brought us. For I take no credit, its only through HIM this birthday “Miracle” is possible! Happy Birthday Son!

“Therefore, as the scripture say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:31

“If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.”
2 Corinthians 11:30

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Happy Birthday, Testimony!

img_2189Tomorrow is Testimony’s 9th birthday! Like all kids, she is obnoxious with excitement! Bouncing about the house, ready to eat cake, ready to open presents, elated to be leaving behind year 8, and eager to face year 9. On the other hand there is me. My inner being sits in stark contrast to that of Testimony. Today I fill an overwhelming sense of sadness, a dreadful feeling in the pit of my stomach. Shamefully, I try to suppress these feelings and bounce, bake, buy gifts, and dream right along with my daughter. Fantasizing together about all the greatness nine years old will bring!

img_0727So, why am I so sad? What is wrong with me? I am sure many can guess. Kids grow up too fast! Each stage of life is so unique, so fun, you just innately never want to see it end! A child’s birthday almost becomes like a funeral, a dreaded good bye to those cute fun memories that particular year gave you: when they looked this way, talked that way, and learned this or that. I experience similar feelings with my nieces and nephews, but with your own its stronger, and when you have missed seven birthdays prior the pain becomes uniquely deeper.img_1263

I don’t share these feelings to bring a dark cloud over celebrating Testimony. Rather, to lament. First, my emotions and affixation on trying to memorialize and bottle up my time with Testimony. Secondly, my feeling sorry for myself- Selfishly I wish I had got to experience Testimony’s birth, been at her first birthday, watched her learn to walk, listened to her first word, and on and on. Of course I know that is not fair of me to say, but I do! I love this kid so much, I want to experience it all!

So, tomorrow I will sit. Everyone around me singing the happy birthday song! I will suppress my sadnessimg_1636 and fix my eyes on the truth. How one BIRTHDAY changed everything- Christ Jesus’. This truth reminds me: Katie, why do you want to savor cake, ice cream, and baby steps!? Just wait, remain steadfast because one day…one day you will watch Testimony celebrate amongst the ANGELS forever!

Therefore, I say thank you GOD for giving me this perfect gift, 9 year old Testimony! I promise from this day forward to enjoy every earthly blessing she experiences with OBNOXIOUS excitement!

A few months back our friend TiTi, one of the CARE Africa child mentors, interviewed Testimony about her short, but intricate life she has experienced thus far. I thought today I would share some of her answers because I personally feel everyone is happier with a little Testimony in their life!


img_1159What is your name and age?

“Wait, wait, is it all of my names? Olubumni , Riddle, Testimony, Pelumi, Praise, Peace, I am eight years old Primary 4.”

When is your birthday?

“November 7th”

Where do you live?

“Egbe Hospital”

Who do you live with?

“Riddles. Riddle Nicholas and Riddle Katie.”

When did you start to live with them?

“January”

Tell me where did you live before Nick and Katie’s?

“In Lagos”

You lived with your parents right?

“Yes!”

Tell me about it.

“Huh??”

Come on I really want to know who T-money was before Egbe.

“I attended Divine Grace School”

Tell me about your Mom or your Dad.

“My dad usually gave me money and wouldn’t allow anyone to beat me.”

What did your Dad do in Lagos?

“He was a prophet.”

What about your Mom?

“She was a teacher at our school.”

What were the names of your friends in Lagos?

“Mya and Rasheedat, they had a shop in front of our house.”

What did you like about living in Lagos?

“My friends”

What did you NOT like?

“The toys my parents thought I was going to be a boy, so they bought me boy toys.”

Who is your best friend T-Money?

“Katie”

Katie, is your best friend?

“Yes, she is!”

So, what do you NOT like about living with Nick and Katie?

“Nothing”

You sure? What of when you are made to do stuff you don’t want to do?

“I don’t care.”

Wow, that’s good! So if you are worried about anything you will go to Katie?

“YES!!!!”

What about Nick, you haven’t mentioned him?

(giggles) He is funny and he plays with me a lot.

What about Iyanu your brother?

“Hummph, we fight most of the time.”

What about Blessing your sister?

“She supports me, and doesn’t yell at me to get out of her room like Iyanu does.”

So, what about all the different types of people you have met living on this Hospital Compound? What do you think about all of them?
“All the misionaries are really nice. I really love the Beebe Family and Dr. Jen.”

So, which place do you love best?

“HUH??”

I mean which place have you loved living the most?

“ I love living here, and I loved living with my parents!!!!”


Is that all you want to say T-Money?

“YES!!!” (laughs)

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