Sunday, February 6, 2022
Julie Wood, Minister of Serve, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
Andy Wolf, an elder and high school math teacher
Joan Coleman, a dear friend of Mama Lynn
The day dawned bright to the sounds of children laughing, dogs barking, and roosters crowing. After 27 hours of travel Julie, Andy, and I were ready to start our day visiting the children in Mirerani. Mama Lynn founded Light in Africa 22 years ago after she had a calling from God to “Go to Africa “. Since then she has taken hundreds of children into care, fed thousands of meals to street children, and provided medical treatment to hundreds of Tanzanians through her medical outreaches into the bush. She currently has over 125 children in full-time care.
We piled into the car with a child on every lap. Andy held sweet baby Ellen who while just over one-year old only weighs six pounds. Mama Lynn held Margaret, Julie held squirmy 3-year-old Keith William, and I had Emanuel asleep on my lap. Our one-hour drive took us to Mirerani—a remote, desolate, and dusty mining town. Mama Lynn moved the children there three years ago when local authorities threatened to shut down Tudor Village, her compound in Boma.
Mama Lynn established four homes:
- Fleece House with 47 boys
- Gideon House with 40 girls
- Tumaini House with 20 disabled children
- Babar House with thirteen 4,5,&6 year-olds
In addition, several grown children are away at college or trade schools. There are nine children waiting for bed space (a blind 3-year-old was just added to that list).
Our first stop was Gideon House where 65 children gathered for Sunday worship. Julie and Andy led the children in songs, praise, and bible teachings. It is impossible to describe the sweet sound of the children singing in Kiswahili. Suddenly we realized they had switched to English and were singing “Our God is Greater”. We couldn’t help but join in singing and clapping! Julie asked if any of the children wanted her to pray for them. One by one the children came forward shyly and sat with her. There are no words.
Our time was cut short when we had to leave with Mama Lynn to meet a Maasai leader, a mother and 2-year-old child who had traveled three hours on a motorcycle to meet her. (85 or 90 degrees) Mordecai has complicated lung issues which may require surgery. Mama Lynn agreed to drive him 5 hours to Fame Hospital where he would get the needed treatment by an American doctor. We added Mordecai to the car.
Light in Africa is bursting at the seams having added over 20 children since the first of the year. A fourth home is scheduled to be added called Babar House after the children’s story of an orphaned elephant who is cared for by a white woman. Mama Lynn said she would have the keys the day we arrived. When we returned to Gideon House, I was surprised to see the children parading out the gate with Palm fronds. Palm Sunday??! We paraded through the streets with an air of excitement. We turned the corner to see BABAR HOUSE freshly painted with murals on the walls of Babar and his African animal friends. Mama Lynn handed me the scissors for the ribbon cutting ceremony—she definitely succeeded in an amazing surprise! In one week, she had complete furnished it in playful animal themes and the children had already moved in! It was a celebration like no other.
We then made the emotional transition to visit the disabled children in Tumaini House. Mama Lynn said, “It is okay to cry.” There were 20 children mostly with cerebral palsy laying on mats. Nothing can prepare you for these children and their sweet smiles.
Our last stop was Fleece House where 47 boys lived in small rooms with bunk beds. There was a single outdoor open space approximately 50’ by 10’. It gave us pause.
As we headed back to Tudor Village the sky became dark and threatening. The second we arrived home the rain started, and all hell broke loose. We ran through the storm to our rooms—Andy clutching baby Ellen. As I tried to dry out in the dark there was a loud banging on my door. Andy, Mama Lynn, and Mama Shazma stood there drenched to the bone. While Mama Shazma was parking the car a massive tree fell on the car. It was a miracle that she was not crushed and killed! She ran to get Andy and Mama Lynn and waded back through an ankle-deep river of water. We sheltered in my room with Mama Lynn and Mama Shazma huddled on the floor in a puddle of water. Our first task was to get Mama Shazma in dry clothes as she was in shock. Question: what is the British solution to ANY problem? A “cuppa” tea! Julie joined us as we made our way gingerly to the dining hall avoiding fallen branches, debris, and errant umbrellas. The tornado like winds actually downed a 30ft section of block wall. Mama Shazma’s husband was already on his way with friends and machetes to cut up the tree and free the car.
As we gathered around the table bathed in candlelight, we thanked the Lord for his unending protection. And all God’s people said AMEN!