Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Heartbreak

The girls are napping and I am sitting in the gathering room, settling in for some quiet time myself. Next to me sits a young lady of maybe 13 or 14 years, who holds a world of hurt inside of her. In the time that I have been here, I have learned bits and pieces of her story, and have come to find out that no one here really knows much at all about her. She has been closed up, mostly silent since she arrived here on the Obong'o land. Her eyes tell a story of hurt, and her mouth is silent. For all intents and purposes, she is considered an orpan.

Apparently, she was initially found by some of the orphan boys who were tending the cattle in the surrounding area. They found her wandering by herself and invited her to come with them, assuring her of safety and security. So she showed up for a night and stayed for four months. During that time, the family here at home were working to find out where she came from and who should be missing her. She was evidently very hesitant to open up and share anything about herself.

After some time, they were able to find some who claimed that “she belonged to them,” and so she was returned to them, a several hours’ drive to get there.

Several months later, she showed back up again, having walked all the way, searching out the Obong’o family. This time she was completely silent, but retreated to small house here for safe haven. There are small handful of ladies here on the land that she speaks very briefly with, but she has not shared any of who she is, where she comes from, and what she is running from.

She has been here for weeks now, and is slowly starting to come out of the house a little more. She will occasionally be seen in the kitchen helping the ladies cook, and has evidently helped with some chores around the land, but remains silent. The day that we arrived, she happened to pop her head out the house while we were gathered “under the tree” and the family encouraged her to come and greet us. She was quite hesitant, and even when she came to shake our hands, did not make look at us or say a word. She just hung her head and extended her hand. Her name is Mary. The family here has welcomed her here unconditionally and desires to allow her to feel safe again before asking any questions of her. So they are giving her time now.

Today, one of the sisters here was cutting Mary’s hair, so the girls and I ventured out to try to become acquainted with her. It was the first time that I saw her even attempt to crack a smile, and a few times she even full-on chuckled at the girls’ antics. For any who disagreed with us bringing the girls with us to the mission field, we saw today how God uses the pure innocence and delight of children to shine His light. Mary doesn’t speak any English, and I don’t speak Swahili or Luo, so all I could do was smile at her and throw out what few Swahili words I do know. She smiled, though, and it radiated through all of Heaven. Oh, the beauty that came forth when her face lit up. If only you could have seen it.

As I type this, she is sitting next me browsing through a few of the girls’ storybooks that we brought along. And for the first time, I heard her speak, though I have no idea what she said.

How my heart longs for her, to know what she has buried in her heart, and to know the source of the great sadness in her eyes. How I long to hold her close as only a mother could. How my heart breaks for her to know that she has a Healer, and that there is a Way through whatever she has endured.

Friends, if you are a praying people at all, please pray for Mary. Pray that she would continue to find refuge here on the Obong’o land, and that through the love and safety that she receives here, that she would begin to open up about who she is and her story, and that through that process, she would find healing, ultimately through Jesus Christ Himself.


  1. I see what you mean about Juju growing up. The picture with the Rev as he was preaching showed how she's transformed. Marvelous. My beautiful family in a beautiful land.
    We love you all,

  2. Shauna,

    I have been sitting here reading your entire blog. I feel like I am really getting to know your heart even though we really don't spend much time together.

    I am amazed at the way God has anointed you and how willing you are to reach way beyond your comfort zone (squatty potty and all!) to care for others and to share God's love.

    Hearing all that you are going through and the burdens you are carrying make me humbled and a bit ashamed of the list of daily complaints I carry in my head.

    Thank you for inspiring me as only a Godly woman can.

    I will be praying for Mary and especially for your sweet girls.

    Love in Christ,

    Ericka Balli

  3. What an awesome God we have, and how much He must love Mary to have brought her to your godly family. I am sure there is no doubt that she senses something remarkable there, but just can't put her finger on it. Amazing how the love of Jesus stretches far and wide. And what a testament to their faith... that your family would so willingly accept her, love her, and care for her... just as Jesus would have done. Thank you for sharing this story. My heart breaks for her too.


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