Thursday, February 14, 2013

How Do You Spell Love?

H ... O ... M ... E

Gabriel is 18, tall, strong and handsome,  And he has a contagious smile that attempts to wrap itself around his face.   But, this morning, he was serious.  So serious. He stood before us moving slowly from one foot to the other and back again.  His hands wrung each other.  His words were slow and deliberate.  But barely audible.

He had concluded his school break and was now back in school.  But, before he began his predictable routine of education, Mommy Sera had given him enough money to travel to his village of Moroti and to eat some food along the way.  She had taken him off the streets of Jinja several years before.  The firstborn in a family of six, Gabriel had a passion to return to his village, before school began, to check on his two brothers and sisters who had remained there.

Gabe with Emma
His father is a drunkard who has neglected his family from the beginning.  His mother has passed away.  The absence of family pushed Gabriel from Morit to the slums of Masese along with his younger brother Mark.  Now they were enjoying the stability and predictability of home at Sera's Caring Place.  But, what about his younger siblings left back in the village?  He had to know.  Even at his young age he has a strong sense of love and responsibility.  He seems to have a father's heart.

The youngest in the family, Emma (a shortcut for Emmanuel) is six years old and had been left with an extended family member.  But, Gabe found he wasn't with the auntie he was left with.  He was on the streets surviving any way he could.  He was dirty, hungry, and uncared for.

Gabriel never made it through his account of his adventure back to the village to find Emma.  He choked up, put his large hands over his face, and broke down with sobs that followed him out of the building.  I went around the other side to find him.  I just held him in my arms and imagined what turned out to be true.  Emma was in desperate condition with no hopeful future.  Gabe took the little money he had and gave his brother food and transported him back to Jinja.  But, the only place for him to stay was in Masese, one of the worst slums of our city.

Raoul points Gabe & Emma toward the way HOME
Yesterday I went with Gabriel to find Emma. Gabe had left him with a mother in Masese who was willing to look after him.  But, this slum is where there is little food, hundreds of children, rampant disease, pregnant teenage girls.  And, warigi ... the local brew that so many use to dissolve their desperate conditions.

After finding Emma, camera in hand, I surveyed the immediate surroundings.  Less than ten feet from where I stood where six or eight children.  All appeared to be younger than eight years old.  They stood in a tight circle surrounding a pot of local alcohol, sucking on straws that disappeared into the dirty pot.  They were not in school.  Their environment was their teacher.  They were learning at an early age to drown their miserable existence.  This unforgettable memory sealed my commitment to get Emma out of the slum and into a home.

Emma with Raoul in Masese
Early in the week I had asked Raoul Mugosa if he would consider adding another son to the family he was beginning.  Raoul helped Katie Davis get her well know story started after she came to Jinja during Christmas break her senior year of high school.  She adopted 14 Uganda girls and he has been Uncle to them since.  After resigning from six years of work with Katie, Raoul was on his own personal adventure.  His dream to start his own home for street boys is now a reality. All the legal documents are in place.  He has personnel to assist him.  A home and compound has been rented for six months. Today he will reveal who he has chosen to remove from the streets.  Those new sons will spend their first night in comfortable beds in his new home.  Kwagala International Ministries will begin it official debut tonight.  Tomorrow the food will be found in the kitchen and not the garbage bins of downtown Jinja.

Emma's new father in his new home
Emma was a surprise for Raoul.  He consented to accompany me, with Gabriel, to Masese to investigate my request.  He has spend many days and nights on the streets to evaluate the potential boys he wants to invite to grow up in his home.  He never anticipated coming to the slums to rescue a six year old before he ended up on the streets.  Soon it became evident that Emma was going to be given an opportunity to join the new family ... as the FIRST son.

Kwagala is the Luganda word for LOVE.  How do you tell a six year old boy who has no family that you love him?  Words are not enough.  Just as God demonstrated His love with specific and life changing actions, love has to be expressed in the same way.

Raoul, Gabe, and I located the Local Chairman 1.  He is, essentially, the village chief, who has the legal authority to release Emma to the care of Raoul.  He asked many questions, to which we had answers, and he granted permission for Emma to leave the squalid conditions of Masese for the warm and loving environment of a home.  Just before we left the slum, I observed Emma relieving himself into a small ditch that ran between the mud huts on the hillside.  It seemed an appropriate farewell.

Emma on his new bed
I can only imagine the thoughts that ran through Emma's mind as we walked out of the village and he boarded our vehicle to be taken to his home.  But, I know what was in the mind of his brother Gabriel.  Gabe told me that he woke in the middle of the night to pray for his little brother.  He had sensed that God was going to do something big for him the next day.  Now he knew what it was.  He never imagined it would happen so quickly, but he believed God answers prayers.

As I left Raoul and Emma in the new home, Raoul said to me, "God wanted Emma to be the first boy in my home."  I agreed, but asked Raoul, "Why?"  He replied, "Because Emmanuel means God with us and He wants to confirm that we are in His will with this new adventure."

How do you spell love?  H ... O ...M ... E 


  1. This is a spectacular story. I love Gabe and I am so thankful for Raoul and Robbie and what they are doing!!

    All my love, Ashlee Bohnet

  2. Wow Awesome! Imagine......Emmanuel!

  3. Wow! What a story! I love that Emmanuel's name, "God with us" is the first son in Raoul's new venture! Blessings--Leon and Karen

  4. What a beautiful beginning to Kwagala!! Blessings to Raoul and Emma!!! Continuing to pray for you all ~ Rebecca and Family!

  5. You always make me cry. My heart is so stirred every time I read of your experiences of God's love in action. I thank God for YOU.----I love it too...Emmanuel, God with Us.


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