Being Changed By a Boy…

I recently had the privilege and blessing to sit with a dear friend and hear of her heart-wrenching and yet beautiful experience of working with some very needy boys and girls on the continent of Africa. The care, concern, and love she shared with these kids was that love that I believe God asks us to faithfully share. My friend had a special attachment with one very sick young boy, Mwita, who unfortunately did not survive. She did a very articulate job in expressing her concern, conviction, and challenge through the poem below. I hope it touches your heart even as it has touched mine!

The Boy Who Changed Me
Mwita: October 2011-December 2012

Dedicated to a life too short, yet making a continued impact on so many

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As if only yesterday, I remember so clear
The sight before my eyes, I couldn’t help but shed a tear 1
Too weak to lift his feeble head
All for lack of being fed

His story more than meets the eye,
Forsaken by his mama, left us wondering ‘why?’
At a mere 4 months his sustenance shorn
Dejected baby, deserted and forlorn

Created for love, created to be whole
Abandonment cuts deep, starving the soul
Bebe 2 did her best to provide the needed meal
Porridge and meager milk, yet he did not heal

When trouble arises, one goes back to the core
Worldview to values, behavior the simple outpour
Witch doctors relied on generationally, habitually
Sins grip on this culture, witnessed continually

This gaping trauma to tissue and skin
Brought him to us, with his Bebe, next of kin
A secondary issue, yet with it we sought to treat
This eleven-month-old boy with barely any meat

Super-milk 3 was the chosen provision
The plan was plotted, with careful precision
Re-feeding ounce by ounce, hour by hour
Diligence alone seemed without any power

Week by week, we hoped and prayed
That he would grow, and danger would fade
Yet give or take, progress was slow
Regardless of what was done, he didn’t grow

Reality took awhile to set in
It had been a month since laying eyes on him
His body still so weak and helpless
Desiring to aid, yet feeling equally powerless

An idea was born in my minds eye 4
A means by which some hope might lie
To take him from those fatal clenches
To walk with him amidst the trenches

Timidly the idea was presented
Inpatient status if Bebe relented
To give him up from dawn to nightfall
That we might provide care in all

To our surprise and obvious delight
Our leaders were consulted and gave the alright
If Bebe would consent to stay through the night
We could take on this new approach in the fight

Thus began a new chapter in his story
As us wazungu 5  mamas assumed our maternal glory
Bathing, washing, and every three hour feedings
Work to be sure, yet it left us beaming

Many a morning I would rise before dawn 6
Praying and thinking as we walked on
The pattering of our feet was the only sound
In the stillness of the morning His mercies abound

Snuggled and warm in the depth of the khangas 7
Mwita would get passed to his wazungu mamas
After awhile it became routine
And on my back he would sleep on, serene

Singing praises as we walked back the same course
As the dawn broke our voices raised to the Source
Offering this life up in prayer
With his fingers gently clenching my hair

Those six am mornings I will always treasure
Ne’er have I seen milk bring so much pleasure
Snuggled in my arms as I read the scripture
His sweet face asleep, still in my mind a picture

Loved by all, a schedule soon was made
To share the care, unity was thus conveyed
Held more by us than was likely best
For we picked him up, if ever distressed

Day by day an evolution occurred
For before, he had said nary a word
Peach fuzz developed on his bald little head
In the place of gums, white teeth instead

Those serene early mornings were soon far gone
Increased energy meant awake before dawn
Grabbing my Bible, my pen, my hair
Soon his baby voice was filling the air

Every evening our steps would rewind
We walked him back only to find
Bebe’s open arms, her warm embrace
With each day love growing on her face

Days turned into weeks, and I fell in love
With this precious gift, sent from above
Never before had I felt such a connection
To another’s mtoto 8 , forming maternal affection

In the back of my mind the days were getting fewer
Yet my affections for him, only grew truer

Then came the day, that dreaded morn
Handing him back, I was so torn
With sadness in my heart and mixed emotion
My khanga returned to it’s primary function

Another phase of loving him
Home visits beyond the village rim
With a Bible in one hand, and milk in the other
A count of four, hoping not to smother

As we walked along the well beaten path
Beseeching our Father that in the aftermath
Bebe and boy would be a success story
And God himself would receive all the glory

Hodi, Hodi! 9  We called out our greeting
No wait at all, we saw him there, eating
Puffy eyes, no pants and a sad countenance
My heart stopped still at this observance

Again in my arms, I was still so unnerved
Yet the cause of this sight was soon to be heard
After the switch Mwita could not be soothed
Unless in Bebe’s arms, and gently cooed

Mixed feelings came with this account
Thankful he felt loved, yet weary of the amount
Of holding and pacifying we delivered
African culture left unconsidered

With time Mwita again adjusted
Outpatient status for our boy beloved
Who, in a moment, in the blink of an eye
Taught me more than I can quantify

In a flash, I am back, to the initial meeting,
As we puzzled over the meaning,
The weak resistance of nutrition
The singular lack of true ambition

There is more to one than meets the eye
Needing more than food to get by
Body, soul, spirit-all equals human
Holistic care embraces the union

Love is the piece, the key to thrive
When added we saw Mwita revive
Prayers we offered, begging for his soul
That True Love would someday make him whole

Epilogue
Tears fall free at this precious recollection
This sudden providence, I cannot help but question
Yet through the tears, His Word a comfort bring

Though still unclear, to His Goodness now I cling

Not as I would ordain, if I were in control
Yet trusting True Love has indeed made him whole

-A Van Kampen

1 Christine
2 Grandmother
4 Faith
5 White person
6 with Faith
7 African cloth used primarily as a skirt, with many other uses
8 child
9 Greeting before entering

 

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