I wish I knew where to start when it comes to sharing the the journey I’ve been on with Sharon. You see, she’s not just a story. She’s not just a photo. She’s not just another kid. She is my heart. She is somehow my other half. She is and always will be my first daughter, even if she’s not biologically mine.
Her story is long and complicated. It is filled with abuse, hunger, abandonment and suffering. But those are words that speak only of her past. Today, Sharon is walking towards an entirely new future. Let’s not over-simplify things tho. There are still struggles, there are threats…but more powerful than any of that, we’ve found a resting place of HOPE. We are finding the first glimmers of HAPPINESS and believe me, for this little girl, the simple gift of happiness is something worth celebrating.
Yesterday, “Uncle James” was able to help me take care of the details of making sure Sharon’s school fees were paid. You see, Sharon has moved. She’s starting a new school. She’s starting a new life. I don’t know what it is about Sharon’s quiet, giggly self…but she breaks open hearts in the most beautiful ways. James is a dear friend of mine from Uganda. He is my brother, truly. We met in August the first time I traveled to the village of Bukibokolo. I don’t mean to throw these terms of family endearment around lightly. I’m not sure when this familial relationship of brother/sister began, but even Sharon instinctually picked up on it and dubbed him with the honorable title of “Uncle.” You see, James loves Sharon, too. As a child, he walked the same rough road that Sharon has had to walk. And now? It seems that God is transforming James’s past pain into a love for children who need it most. Sharon loves her Uncle James and I do too. He’s making sure that her school fees are being spent as they’re meant to. He’s checking in on her on a regular basis. He is a source of constant love and support for both Sharon and I.
I’m attempting to say too much in one blog post. It makes it hard. It’s impossible to contain this much love and difficulty in one sitting. Perhaps I should have been writing more all along, but you see…I couldn’t. Because it’s complicated. It’s a story about real people with real feelings and, in some ways, living in real danger. I tread lightly with all of it. There is still so much untangling and praying to do.
I want to tell you everything and yet I don’t know how. Perhaps there are pieces of this story that aren’t meant to be shared in its entirety, at least not yet…or maybe ever. But for now, I rest in knowing that progress is being made. Sharon is with her mother. The woman who I thought had abandoned her own daughter had her own side of the story. While in Uganda, I made arrangements to meet with her and I’m glad I did. Her story is also complicated. And yet I want to believe that she is doing the best she can. I want to help her to be the best mama she can be. I want to give Sharon and her mother that chance. Because I love Sharon and every child deserves a relationship with their parents if at all possible. The situation with Sharon’s father is dubious, violent and heartbreaking at best. Sharon’s mother is another matter. Now that Sharon and her mother have been re-united, there is potential for goodness to increase, mature and maybe even flourish. For the first time ever, Sharon’s mama has a network of support in a way that she never had before. In the way that she’s needed in order to even be a mama to her daughter. God has blessed me in that Sharon’s mother wants me to be Sharon’s mama, too. The genuineness that is growing out of our gratitude for one another brings tears to my eyes, even as I write.
Sharon has a whole family of people here in the United States that already love her, especially my Bratlien family, who already think of her as a granddaughter, niece and cousin. From that family, she has a very special aunt and uncle who have helped me to cover her first semester of school fees. With each person that becomes a part of my life with Sharon, I become more amazed by the way God moves in our lives…how He changes and heals us in ways that we never imagined. We’re all so broken, but God knows, He sees, He hears, He understands…and He uses us to help heal one another. It is turning out to be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced.
Sharon begins her first day at her new school on Monday. Let’s pray for her, please! May this be only the beginning of an upward looking life.
I love you, Sharon! And dear Abba…I thank you beyond measure.
9 thoughts on “The beginning of a new life.”
Thank you for sharing your story – this is exactly what I needed to see and read today. Thank you. I honestly am so grateful and this just proves that God does want you to share your story, at least some of it, because you have already helped one person on a similar journey of compassion. I was recently in Ghana and did some work for a few weeks at an orphanage and absolutely fell in love with this little boy who seemed to adore me equally so. He was constantly at my side, on my shoulders or in my arms the whole time I was there, and even just having to part at bedtime, he into the boys dormitory and me into my own room, was heartbreaking and he often cried. Can you imagine how hard it was for me to leave him behind when my visa ended? You see, this boy was the youngest at the orphanage, only four, and the other kids bullied him a bit – he didn’t have any real friends in the orphanage (except me) and even if I gave him a toy, a book, or even just a blanket, within minutes it would be snatched off of him by a bigger kid… this happened many times. I couldn’t constantly be with him to look out for him, but would often find other older kids beating him etc. I was furiously protective but knew at some point I would have to leave him there, alone again… The orphanage itself it a lovely place and I’m on close terms with the ‘mother’. It’s just she is always too busy to constantly be with the kids as she also runs a charity school, does fundraising etc. so the kids look after themselves a great deal. As I’m sure you know life is much harder in Africa and kids often hit each other and fight – just like they do everywhere else in the world… but he’s only four… with no guidance… breaks my heart. Now I have spoken to his mother about adopting him – his mother is disabled and unable to look after him at all hence why he lives in the orphanage – she has said that I could adopt him… but you see, I can’t. At 25 I’m still on my own journey – I travel almost constantly and feel it is still in God’s plan for me to do so for the next couple of years. I feel I have duties yet to fulfill. I also don’t have a home of my own (nothing permanent) and wouldn’t even be able to fully adopt him anyway under Ghanaian law (being a single male). But the point of this long ramble is to say I have realised now that I need to be an ‘uncle James’ figure in his life, a sort of father who sends aid when he can, comes to stay when he can, brings gifts, raises money for school fees, clothes etc. Perhaps, in the future, if I’m able to settle down in Ghana for a while I could adopt him fully… we will see. So I just wanted to say thank you for your story – it has made me realise these kinds of relationships are entirely possible, and that I am not failing him by not adopting him now – but I can be a figurehead, a guardian, that will ultimately shape his life for the better, as part of God’s great plan.
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James, your comment has moved me to tears. Thank you (thank you!!!!) for sharing your response so openly with me. God is in action, constantly. Yet another overlap in the grand design of healing. I hope we’ll stay in touch. Your time in Uganda and connection with that little boy are important. I will be thinking of both of you as you find your way along this journey together.
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Thank you so much. Let’s please stay in touch. I will be following your story, your healing journey, so parallel to my own. Here’s to a bright future, in God’s love and light. All the best to you and your little girl. Thanks again./// Jx
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I want to continue following and get to know more of your story as well. I love the way God connects us in ways that keeps us moving forward towards love, light and that bright future that we so very much crave. Blessings!
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What a gift your are giving to Sharon. The gift of family! I love that she has 2 mamas! One can never have too much motherly love! And she has a special man in her life, Uncle James. Her life has improved beyond measure since the 2 of you got into each other’s hearts! And you have given her biological mother the gift of another chance with her daughter. God must be so pleased with how you are spreading His Grace and Love. Bless you Jessie!
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Sharon’s life is FILLING with special people and, alongside hers, mine seems to be, too. I love you, dear Jean. And you’re right…you can never have too much motherly love. In some ways you play that role for me, too. I’m sending you a big hug, mama Jean. 🙂
Life is such a mysterious journey. More often than not, ironical. The first time I saw Sharon, was August last year. She is this quiet girl with sparkling eyes. So shy, yet bright.
I used to stay with Sharon more than any child during the mission trip we had in Bukibokolo, mountainous part of Eastern Uganda. Little did I know that we share a story. Surprisingly, I left without knowing her story. Good enough, Jessie had stayed a little longer and I should say, she discovered her. Because of lack of appropriate words to describe what Jessie told me when I met her in Kampala- the capital of Uganda, I say Jessie absolutely fell in love with Sharon.
The issue of step mothers- step children in Uganda is a silent volcano which is yet to explode. Many children are abused. Myself, I went through a horrible upbringing but God was with me that I am what I am today. I know I have a bright future awaiting.
Meeting Jessie has been yet another litre of fuel in my Journey. She has encouraged me in many ways. She is a true symbol of God’s work and mercy. Her work and attitude is imaginable. So unique and loving irrespective of your status. she is charismatic and involving, a character uncommon. “Sister Jessie” is how I call her. I love her with all my heart. we are so compatible. conversations while in kampala can take hours…..
Sharon’s future now bright….a girl’s future In a poor side of Africa changed. Merciful is the power of God. I just say God thank you for bringing such people like Jessie. I know everything will be ok. Commendable work Sister Jessie!!!. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to everyone who is supporting Jessie. Not only financially, but also through words of encouragement. God bless you all. ” Uncle James”.
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Brother, your words brought tears to my eyes!!! I love you so much and thank God for brining our lives together in all the ways that He has. My short response does not do my reaction to your words justice, but even what I have not said, I am guessing you can feel. Bless you, my dearest friend!!!