Several years ago, when both of our daughters were still here on the field with us, my main ministry was helping them to be successful in whatever ministry they wanted to be involved in. If they wanted to help in the Kindergarten, that’s where I helped. If they sang in the choir, I would meet them on their way home if it was dark. If they wanted to do a “band-aid ministry”, I would be there with advice on dressing wounds, if they wanted to bring medicine to a sick baby in the village, I would go with them. Between running our home, teaching home school and helping them in this way, my day was full. I always said that once our daughters were gone, then “I would look for another ministry to be involved in.” In hindsight, I think that brought a smile to the Lord’s face whenever I said that.
Shortly before our youngest daughter graduated from high school, she visited an orphanage in Sumbawanga. While there, she took a picture of a starving little boy who would not survive much longer. That picture and his story touched my heart and I made a visit to that orphanage to see him. While there, our daughter begged us to take him home to help him. While being afraid he might die, we agreed and we brought Luka into our home. To make a long story short, Luka not only survived and became healthy, he is now our adopted son and a great addition to our family.
In the process of helping Luka, we saw many other newborn babies who were just lying in their cribs. Most were well fed and taken care of, but there weren’t enough arms working in the orphanage to hold and rock these little ones. I remember thinking, “I know how to be a Mom, maybe they’ll let me help.” After talking to Sister Agripina, the nun in charge at the time, she was more than happy to let me take any baby I wanted into our home. Her response was, “God bless you!” Can you imagine? Foster care with no paperwork! We keep these little ones for about one to three months and get as much formula into their little tummies as we possibly can, along with holding and cuddling them as much as possible. It means many sleepless nights for me, but I always think that if they were our daughters, I would want someone to get up with them when they cried, so I could do it for these babies.
Many years later, we can count almost 30 little ones who have passed through our door (and our arms). Some of them have been HIV positive and later died back at the orphanage, but they were loved and cared for by us during their short life. And yes, it is hard to bring them back after falling in love with them, but I know that they were loved and prayed over during their weeks with us. I pray that somehow somewhere God would bring someone into their life to show them Jesus. We can’t adopt them all, but we can show God’s love for the orphan child and model that for the Tanzanians we come in contact with.
When we moved to Tanzania, I never considered working with orphans (or even adopting one!), but God had other plans. And I certainly didn’t need to go looking for a ministry – He brought one to me and filled my arms with little ones after having to say goodbye to our grown daughters as they returned to the States for college. What an amazing God we serve!
This blog was written by Lynn Caraway who has served as a missionary with her husband Mike since September 2002 with Grace Ministries International (www.gracem.org). We are thankful for their faithfulness to the Lord and are thankful for them To learn more about their ministry visit http://bit.ly/Caraways