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Offering

 

Art by Cynthia Emerlye
Art by Cynthia Emerlye

 

As the crowd filtered slowly out of Catholic mass on a warm October Sunday morning in Naivasha, Kenya, a quiet mother found a place on the side lawn to sit and think and grieve.     No one else understood the painful tension that now gripped her loving heart.  She had reached a hard-fought conclusion. The baby in her arms, so dear a possession to her for the last 14 months, would be better raised by others. His thinning hair and underweight body told a story of struggle to anyone who stole a peek whenever she uncovered him briefly. Although she could not bear to face the truth, the finality of a lab test, she somehow knew already that she had passed on her illness to him on that bittersweet day when he came to life.  He would die without proper nutrition and medicine, and her own health was already fading. There was a children’s home called Mji wa Neema (Grace Village) on site at this Catholic church. They would know what to do with him, though they did not take babies normally.

She watched him carefully one last time, studying his small eyes as they flickered like dark emeralds before closing as he settled against her warm chest.  He had become part of her for the moment again, able to coexist in a painful world because she embraced him.  Would he have another mother?  Would he survive the countless difficulties around them without her?  Her questions were mercifully interrupted by the arrival of another mother, also seeking a place to sit outside while her baby napped.  As the two moms struck up a conversation, a kindred spirit developed, and she noticed the relative health of the mother and baby she now shared space with.  A quickening of her senses came next, and she knew it was time.  “I would like to make an offering.” she said, “Will you watch my baby for me?” Receiving a nod of approval, she gently laid her precious one on the grass, turned and entered the church through the front entrance.   According to others still there that day, she left through the back exit to avoid detection and perhaps to keep from ever seeing her boy again, lest she change her mind.

Father Mwangi, the Catholic priest serving this church, handled this unique sadaki (offering) with compassion and provision. The sweet baby boy was bathed, clothed, and given milk, all at the expense of this kind man, who watched over him like a father for 3 days. He notified the police, who contacted Mr. Njagi of the Children’s Dept. in Naivasha, and thus began the process of locating a home. In the interim, Father Mwangi took him to Naivasha General Hospital for HIV screening, and the test confirmed suspicions that he was indeed HIV+. Medications and multivitamins further fortified the baby’s defenses and justified his mother’s selfless decision, one undoubtedly made after grieving and prayer in the priest’s very own sanctuary.

By the third day, Flo and the Naomi’s Village vehicle arrived at the church, having been granted care of the baby boy by Njagi.   Given the name Robbie Amani (first name after me, second name means “peace” in Swahili), he landed in a giant celebration of warmth and affection on a separate lawn 30 minutes away at NV.  Let’s just say his mother’s fearful questions were stilled forever on that day. Robbie belongs with us now.

 

Celebrating Robbie's arrival
Celebrating Robbie’s arrival

Halfway around the globe, in a conference room at a Christ-worshipping, servant church in Longview, TX called, of all things, New Beginnings, Julie and I sat telling the stories of NV to pastors and new friends.  My WhatsApp dinged, I looked down, and there were the photos of Robbie’s arrival, sent by one of our staff just afterwards. Next came a video, and all talking stopped for a moment as we just let the world spin and peered at a screen, watching a baby find his new beginnings.  For those who do not know God, He can be so specific sometimes that He leaves His children speechless.  This was one of those moments for me, though its full significance did not come until I arrived back in Kenya a few weeks later to hear the details above. I have now also held Robbie, felt his skin against mine, and I already know something of the sacrifice his mother made to leave.

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I hope to see Robbie’s mother on those distant shores one day, all of her troubles gone, and thank her for this offering.  Until then I pledge to help raise her boy with my whole heart, like my own.  She would have done the same, no doubt, if given the chance.

For Robbie’s Mother

By Bob Mendonsa

Nov. 11, 2014

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7 reviews
  • Melissa Demster
    10:45 am - November 11, 2014. Reply

    What a heartbreaking and yet beautiful story. Thank you for writing it so beautifully! I am able to understand a mom in her position much more now.

  • Emily Koelling
    7:46 pm - November 11, 2014. Reply

    Oh wow, let the tears flow. What a precious gift from the Lord. Blessed to be a part of seeing his home coming, his new beginning. No words. Love from Texas!

  • Janet
    10:40 pm - November 11, 2014. Reply

    welcome Robbie! What a blessing NV is to the community and how blessed NV is to have a new member in this blessed community of loving forward thinking members. I’m sending my love and prayers

  • Jeannie
    9:56 am - November 12, 2014. Reply

    As a mother who desperately loves her children, I can’t even go to that place in my mind of having to give them up; knowing that walking away is better than staying, but willing to do whatever it takes to insure the safety and wellbeing of my child. Oh how I pray for that hurting mother’s heart; the grief she must still feel and may always feel deeply is beyond understanding. Maybe she will come forward and find to help she needs as well and perhaps be reunited with her little one in the days and weeks or years to come? Lord, please help her to know her little boy is safe and well cared for. Give her dreams and visions of You holding her baby close to Your heart forever. Help her to know that Your arms are open wide to her; that she is wanted and not forgotten.

  • Monica Grider
    3:13 pm - November 30, 2014. Reply

    what a beautiful story and so well written. Matt Chandler just preached on miracles today!!

  • Kirstin Lotti
    3:43 pm - December 22, 2014. Reply

    Is this child still unsponsored? Please email me

  • Mary Miller
    9:06 pm - June 1, 2015. Reply

    Talk about a story tugging at one’s heartstrings! I pray that one day, Robbie’s Mom somehow comes to know that because of her tremendous courage, her son is healthy, & safe, & happy & so well-loved!
    Mary, Sundance & Kodi’s Mom

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