Almost three years ago, I walked into an orphanage in Jinja, Uganda and fell in love with the sickest baby girl I had ever seen ( of course, I just didn’t know what my life was going to be like…) Her name is Josephine. At a year old she could not hold up her own head or roll over, still had no teeth and was the size of a 2 month old. Mom and I took turns holding her and carrying her all over Jinja. When she was sick, we took her to the hospital and spent evenings holding her while nurses poked and prodded. I sang her to sleep. I cried when she cried. I begged the Lord that she wouldn’t die. I went home with Josephine still in my heart and spent counless hours thinking and praying about her.
I watched her grow through other volunteers’ pictures on facebook and was so thankful for Julie whose heart had also been stolen by this sweet girl. When I moved back to Uganda seven months later the first thing I did was scoop sweet Josephine, now able to sit up by herself, into my arms. She was still small, still had the same sweet smile, still held my heart. I was working pretty far from Jinja, teaching Kindergarten, but would sneak away in the afternoons to get back to the orphanage and hold little Josephine as often as I could. I would sneak her bananas a give her baths. I prayed and prayed and prayed that her forever family would come soon to take her home. She was happy, but she wasn’t growing fast enough, she wasn’t developing like the other children, and it was completely out of my power to do anything for her but continue to pray and love on her as much as I could.
10 months ago I sat in my new-found bestest friend Suzanne’s house and she mentioned to me that if she ever had another baby girl, she would name her Josie Love. My heart lept. JOSEPHINE. I instantly stole her computer and showed her every picture I had of this precious little girl, talking too fast about what it would be like if Suzanne could bring her home. She looked at me as if I might be nuts and laughed but I left feeling like, just MAYBE, a seed had been planted.
7 months ago, Suzanne, Mike, and their two oldest children, along with some others came to visit. Of course the first thing I wanted to do was take them over to Jinja to meet sweet Josephine, who I of course had started referring to as Josie Love. The Mayernicks had been seriously praying about making her part of their family, but were unsure of what all her special needs may entail. But sweet Josie had done it again, she stole their hearts as well. Not long after they returned home, I got an excited phone call from Suzanne announcing that they felt that God was asking them to make Josie a Mayernick. I watch as their fears and uncertainties turned into excitement and joy. I continued to visit Josie at the orphanage whenever I could, but now I could whisper to her, “They are coming. Your Mommy and Daddy are coming to get you.” My heart was full of joy.
Last month, Mike and Suzanne came to pick up their sweet baby girl. In a rountine medical exam that takes place before and child goes to the US, sweet Josie Love tested positive for HIV and TB. As I thought back over the time I had known her, it seemed all too obvious. Yet when she tested negative at 5 months, no one ever thought to re-test her. My heart nearly broke in half for this sweet baby girl and for my devestated friends. If you have ever wondered what it looks like to truly follow the call of the Lord, to truly TRUST God, I invite you to meet the Mayernicks. I was blown away, and truly challenged and encouraged as I watched them process and decide to take Josie HOME, regardless of her condition.
Today Josephine is standing up, holding onto my knees, unaware that I am typing about her on my computer. She is singing and grinning that big grin, the same one that looked up at me three years ago, although now it is full of teeth. Josephine is staying with our family for a bit, while Mike and Suzanne finish some things in the US and we treat her here for TB.
As I look at her happy little face I am marveling at God’s goodness, His plans that are greater than anything I could have ever imagined. This sweet baby girl who I fell in love with years ago is going home to live with two of my favorite people in the world. She will grow up down the street from my mom who loves her to pieces and she will live near one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation… my words are failing me. I can’t even convey how beautiful it all is.
We are priviledge to have a few weeks or a few months to love on Josie Love Mayernick, priviledged to have her family walking life with us, priviledged to watch the Hand of God move in these magnificent ways that only He can. We appreciate your prayers as we take on a few more sleepless nights, a lot more dirty diapers, and an abundance of joy.
Mike and Suzanne, I love you. Your baby girl loves you. Thank you for being the example you are to me, thank you for all you do for Amazima and my family, thank you for loving Jesus.
Jesus, thank you. I don’t have enough words. You could do it all by yourself, and you choose to include little me. I am so humbled and so grateful. You knit our stories together so perfectly. Thank you for your perfect plan for Josie, thank you for allowing me to witness it, to be a part of it. Thank you for your love for this precious one.