Sunday, May 22, 2011
A few weeks ago, while planning my trip to the NW, I received a newsletter from one of my Ugandan "guys".
I met Francis in September of '99 when Dave and I went over for our Ugandan son Sam's wedding. When we were relaxing after our arrival from the States and one of our girls came to see us and was playing her guitar and singing, a fellow showed up outside the back door. He was in a wheelchair and had one of the biggest smiles I had ever seen. He plopped out of the wheelchair onto the kitchen floor and scootched himself across the floor and grabbed a drum and started playing along with Margaret. Within a short period of time, for one reason or another, he and I were laughing with and at each other. The reason for his inability to walk: polio as a young child. When we met he was about 20. During that couple of weeks that we were in Uganda for the wedding, Francis and I had a few very nice times together and had a great deal of respect.
When I saw him next, it was a few times in November, '03 to February, '04, when I was over there for the mission oriented to helping folks who were struggling against rebel invasion in Uganda. However, we never really spoke. He was very involved with the orphans at their organization where I stayed during my two-week breaks, and when I saw him, he always had a little child on his lap and was wheeling across the compound rapidly.
My son, Sam, has been one of his dear friends, and as Francis was led to take on another ministry, Sam was usually heavily involved with his choices and helping him become settled.
I was mind-blown about 2 years ago when I was notified that he would be marrying a Canadian lady. I would never have imagined that as an option for him.
THEN a newsletter notified that they were expecting a baby. Something else I wouldn't have thought would ever have been part of Francis' life.
He had also begun a ministry involved in wheelchair distribution. And he had come to Canada and the States to make contact with various churches and others who would provide either money or short-term teams. Sam is on his board of directors.
So, the newsletter that arrived in March, as I was planning for the trip, gave me the dates they would be in Canada. Two days after they arrived, their baby did ... born several weeks early. If she had been born in Uganda, she might not have survived, since it required a long stretch of NICU care. Hannah grew and improved. After several weeks she was released from the hospital... only a week before I could try to get across the border. [They couldn't come to the States side, b/c Hannah didn't have a passport as a newborn.]
So the miracle? I was given permission to cross the border. I didn't have a passport. Mine had expired in November and it didn't seem reasonable to update it. The lady accepted my drivers license and the several questions I answered, and, for some very strange reason, gave me permission. [It must truly have been a gift of God.]
When we connected a few minutes later, we spent three hours visiting, going to lunch, walking in a park, and talking, talking, talking. Especially Francis and I.
I can't have imagined a more amazing blessing. Three hours up from Tacoma, three hours together, and three hours back. One long day. But seeing and touching and hugging my dear one, meeting a lovely wife, holding a darling baby.
Long 3-hour drive home, battling the built-up traffic through Seattle .... but lots of it covered with one big grin from ear-to-ear as I felt so blessed.
[And the agent on the US side of the border was horrified that I had been let into Canada. He also told me that an expired passport is acceptable while it is only dealing with our border nations. Would never have thought of that! He finally just rolled his eyes and said, "Go." Believe me, I DID.]