It was a day I had been waiting for with great anticipation. My friend and colleague, Mircea Toca, had told me that we would open House #5 in Tanzania during our upcoming visit. Upon our arrival in country, we had gone straight from the airport to the home to see it, but we had been warned that we had to wait until August 1, to take occupancy. So that very first day, I got as high as I could to peer over the fence to see the house that would soon become a home to ten orphans. But now was the day to go to the house to receive the new children, and I was beyond excited!
I did not know what to expect, but soon I was entering a home empty of any furniture, but sitting across the room against a wall were six children. I would learn that their names were David, Christian, Issa, Johari, Jennifer, and Prisca. Later that afternoon, Said joined them to complete the new family. But there they sat. I could tell they were confused. Issa looked afraid and the twins, David and Christian started running with no particular place to go, and the three girls sat and stared at us. They were visibly dirty, and they each had a sack which contained the only things they could call their own.
My wife decided we needed to try and make friends, so we began to take pictures, and quickly the girls were turning to models. However, we needed to capture the boy’s attention, so balloons were inflated and lollipops were distributed, and the room was filled with joy instantly. Then to our excitement the anticipated furniture began to arrive, and the little twins were soon running all over the new couches as the movers worked around them. But there was work we could help with, and soon we were sent to buy food and clothes for the home, as well as pick up some hot food from the Catholic mission for the children to have for lunch.
Clothes shopping was an adventure as we went into an open market to shop. The newer clothes were way out of our budget, but we found the equivalent of a thrift shop to begin to select gently used items. To my amazement, I found clothing with “Goodwill” tags still on them, which let me know that what wasn’t selling at home was crossing the ocean to east Africa. My friend casually said to me that Africa was the dumping ground for everything our culture threw out. He showed me his I-Phone. It had been bought second hand; another castaway from our society. I was quickly getting a lesson in gratitude, as I saw what was our “throw away” items becoming treasured outfits for former orphaned children.
With shopping completed and hot food received from the mission we returned to the home. While we were waiting for the food to be served, one of the twins started eating trash. Another child was chewing on a popped balloon. Yet, another child was staring at an empty lollipop wrapper. The children were visibly hungry, and as they were served, they did not immediately begin to eat. One of our house fathers asked if any of the children knew how to pray. I forget which girl raised her hand, but she prayed thanking God for the meal. I then watched as the smaller children began to take food from their plates and share it with the older children. There was silence, but there was an unspoken concern, and an all to familiar moment that these kids were thinking, “will we eat again?”
The day was somewhat chaotic making sure everything came together. But that night as darkness fell, every child was bathed, given a warm bed, and there was plenty of food in the kitchen for the coming days. We paused before we left and took a “family” picture. It was amazing to see the connections already happening. The smiles were there. Safety was there. They not only grouped together for a picture, but they truly looked like a family. What was amazing to me was that early that morning the children awoke to uncertainty, but as the sun set and darkness came, they were clean, fed, safe… but most importantly, they were now in their Eternal Family!
Remember the Children in partnership with Eternal Family Ministries is committed to opening ten homes for 120 orphans as soon as funding allows us. We had no idea that five homes would be established in eighteen months, but God is hearing our prayers and providing for our needs.
While I was there a couple of weeks ago, we were able to meet with the authorities and electricity will be coming to our property in the next month. Permanent water lines being fed from Lake Victoria will be coming by the end of 2019. Our plan is to break ground on the first permanent home in January of 2019. Our vision is truly happening, and God is answering every prayer by providing for every need.
But our prayers are active, and we are inviting you to be a part of this story. We need child sponsors. We need people to invest in the construction of our homes. WE NEED YOU! We ask that you join us in prayer, and that you allow God to speak to your heart. We need you on our team because together, we can build eternal families for children who presently have no future. The invitation is there for you today. More information is on our website (www.remember-the-children.org), and you can give securely and safely through it as well. I hope you will join me on this journey. I am so excited for the work that has been completed and I would love to have you along as we create futures for these children with God’s help. Who will be tomorrow’s David, Christian, Issa, Said, Johari, Jennifer, and Prisca? These are real children with real names. There are literally 3.1 million more. We are needed, you are needed… welcome!
More About Andy
Andy Baker founded Remember the Children in 1996 after visiting Romania for the first time with his wife, Gerri. He has spent the last 21 years pouring into the people of Romania and Tanzania. He lives in Indiana with his wife and 2 daughters, is a Baltimore Orioles Fan, and loves a good game of bingo.