It Never Meant So Much
Hand in hand, we walked across the lush green grass toward the head stone of the solitary grave positioned in the back of the compound. Over our shoulders Mt. Elgon proudly pierced the deep blue African sky as numerous waterfalls gushed down it's vertical face, glistening in the sun. After a three hour drive toward the Kenyan border I found myself standing with Sarah in the midst of her family's historical beginnings. "Was she your birth mother or your stepmother?" I quietly inquired. "My stepmother," she quickly replied. "How many wives did your father have?" I asked.
This time there was no quick reply. In fact, I still don't know the answer. I turned to look at Sarah only to observe her face fighting to control tears which refused to remain hidden behind her sad eyes. We had just come from the front yard after boisterously singing "This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made" and praying together. I made no effort to discover the reason for the emotional U turn. I simply wrapped my arms around Sarah and let her cry.
|Sarah Waisana & her father|
When Sarah called me "papa" it was different from many others who use that title for me. It was last year that I discovered why. Sarah grew up without knowing who her real father was. When she got born again she struggled greatly with the name Heavenly Father since her stepfather mistreated her seriously. Though her mother bore five children for Sarah's real father, she kept the history of their origin a secret from the children. Sarah was one among thousands who are part of the fatherless generation in Uganda.
|David with Sarah's 94 year old grandfather|
Along with Sarah, her family, Peter, Jeff, and my granddaughter Robyn, we left the original home place and drove down toward Mbale to share a meal with extended family. Sarah sat beside me and again shared the story of her life without a father and the pain of her wedding. Peter, who was driving and sitting on the opposite side of Sarah, wondered how it was that we had just met her real father, stood in their compound, rejoiced, sang, prayed, and wept with him. Sarah explained. Two years ago an uncle died and Sarah attended the burial. Unknown to her, her real father was also attending the burial. He was 72 years old at the time. Studying her face he began to wonder if this was the daughter that he has lost so many years ago. After the burial he began to ask her questions about her history and before long it became obvious that Sarah not only resembled his other children and him, but she was, in fact, his birth daughter.
|Putting Sarah's heart in the Father's hand|
There are so many adults who are living life with unhealed wounds inflicted by their father. Through neglect, abandonment, abuse, indifference, or simply not there. Fathers may not realize how important their role is in the life of their children. Children need to know that they matter ... that they are loved, significant, beautiful, and capable. They need to know that their father loves their mother with single hearted devotion. They need to know that their father has a heart for God, his Heavenly Father ... and, that more than anything, they want their children to connect to the father heart of God.
|Sarah & her sister Joy with their father|
Yesterday Sarah was not wading in the sea of regret. She was rejoicing in the abundance of the goodness of God. She said, "if it was not for Jesus I would have never met David; if it was not for Jesus I never would have met you; if is was not for Jesus I never would have met my real father; if it was not for Jesus I don't think I would be alive now to see today and rejoice with all my family."
Father's day is not a national day of celebration in Uganda like it is in America. But, truthfully, Sarah is celebrating her father's day and it has never meant more to her than right now.