My name is Allison. I’m 34-years-old. I’m unmarried and have no children. That’s all true, except for the fact that it’s not exactly true. I have never given birth. I’ve never gone through the adoption process or the fostering process. But, somehow, I’m sort of a mom. That’s a scary proposition, right? Being a mom is a serious job and requires commitment and love beyond any other.
Years ago, with a God given dream, lots of friends and family helping me, and wide eyes, we launched Ndoto: For Africas Future. This organization and the people that make it up are blessings and absolute evidence of God’s faithfulness. Sure, there have been bumps along the way including a few “bumps” that felt more like Everest than Riat, our local Kenyan hills, but I digress. Now, we are doing well and believe we are right where God wants us to be.
There are a lot of orphans in Africa and a lot where we work in Obunga. And, the more time I spent with these kiddos and the more we got to know each other, the more they started (on their own) calling me “mom.” To be honest, it really scared me. I didn’t like it. It denoted a life-time commitment to love a child. It also meant you had to sacrifice your time and money. Being an independent and let’s face it, sometimes selfish person, I like my freedom and keep my passport close at hand. I felt trapped (and secretly really honored) by that title. I didn’t say anything, but it continued and grew to be a common name.
I guess, like anything else, you get used to something if it is said enough. The more I settled into my role at Ndoto, the more I got used to the idea of being someone’s mom. I also had one of our high school graduates, Nancy, move in with me. It seemed these things were a part of God’s plan to mature me. I began to get used to it. I felt a shift in my heart, and it became ok to keep the passport locked in a safe. I even went a year without going on some kind of personal trip. I slowly adjusted to preparing meals for more than just me, sacrificing what I want to watch on my small TV, holding kiddos when they cry, buying medicine & more medicine, and watching the balance on my bank account reduce ever so slowly.
I even sent Nancy off to college. We bought mountains of things on the lists universities give to unsuspecting freshman and their parents. I scoured my kitchen grabbing excess plates, bowls, cups, and spoons. I found myself asking, “Do you want this? Do you need this? What about this? Oh, just take this bag of food. I think you need this wallet. Do you want an extra pillow? Here, take this money. Keep it in a safe place because you never knew when you’ll need it. Stay away from boys. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. God is faithful. Pursue your dreams. Work hard. Get to know boys as friends.” Oh wait; am I totally contradicting myself in the same breath? And before I knew it, I had gone to the other side…the sometimes light-wash, tapered jeans wearing, gray hair growing, BIG HEART mom side. And I sort of loved it.
I have grown to love the kiddos with a depth I had never experienced before and I am totally honored by their name for me. In fact, I think it challenges me to rise to the occasion and try to be the type of lady that lives up, albeit imperfectly, to that beautiful name.
And all of this was happening in good time, because almost two years ago, I got to know a young man named Isaac. I was there when his mom was buried, and he became a true orphan. Then, as we so often do at Ndoto, we figured out where an orphan could live and who would take care of him. Soon after thinking we got Isaac settled, news of a growing and painful tumor near his pelvis surfaced and things changed forever. Doctor’s appointments. More doctors appointments. Scary news. Medical malpractice. Broken machines. More scary news. Long driving trips during the night. Crowded emergency rooms. CANCER! Chemotherapy. More chemotherapy. Hair falling out. Losing weight. Buying medicine. Weak. Beautiful Smile. Radiation. CT scans. Movies. More Radiation. MOM!
You get it. That word changed so much for me. This wasn’t just a kid I care about struggling with cancer. This is my son. The depth of my love for him is only matched by the pain I feel as he suffers. It is also matched by the depth my pride has as I watch him. He loves God for real from deep down in his heart. He prays with such faith. He gets weary but is so precious. All of this is only matched, regardless of what happens; by the joy I feel that I’m his mom.
Please continue to pray for Isaac as we return to the cancer hospital in Nairobi in a few weeks for another CT scan. He has had more rounds of intense radiation and we are continually pressing in to the Lord for Isaac’s complete healing, in Jesus’ name.