With the opening of the first house it was important to find caregivers for the children that would love them and provide a godly example. While our goal was initially to find houseparents, God chose instead to provide us two housemothers. Mama Lizzar is our full-time mother and Mama Melita is our part-time mother. Because this culture is so filled with debauchery and decay it is nearly impossible to find godly couples committed to one another.
Mama Lizzar is in her upper 40’s. She has 4 children of her own, the youngest being 19 now. Her oldest 3 children have already passed away. The first died from HIV related illness, the second was taken by cancer, and the third was killed in a car accident. Just 2 weeks ago she nearly lost her fourth child. He was walking home from church on Sunday afternoon with a friend. Some gangsters confronted them, took the friend’s cell phone and slashed his throat. Her son ran and was caught by a couple of the thugs. He was severely beaten, but for some reason they didn’t kill him. She has seen more grief than any mother should have to bear.
In our last discipleship meeting with the mothers we covered Ephesians 6:1-2, in which children are commanded to honor their parents so that things “may go well” and “long life” will accompany them. During our discussion I noticed that Mama Lizzar was holding back tears, not entirely successfully. I can only imagine what thoughts were going through her mind as she considered the Lord’s promises in relation to her own life experiences.
She has not only lost her children, but has experienced abandonment from her husband as well. I mentioned that it is nearly impossible to find godly couples, and at least 75% of the blame for that falls on the men in this culture. They are completely absent as husbands, fathers, role-models. In fact, if a mother passes away and the maternal grandmother and father both want to care for the children that are left, 9 times out of 10 the grandmother will win custody. Children are considered orphaned if the mother dies, because it is so rare that the father is in the picture providing care for the child. Often the father is unknown, is nowhere to be found, or in a case that we are dealing with the father actually raped the mother.
Mama Lizzar’s husband left her in the mid-90’s for a younger woman. 3-4 years later he came back, asking for forgiveness which she knew was the right thing to do. She has a fairly good understanding of God’s opinions of true marriage and His views of divorce. After he returned they lived together for about 2 years before he again left her for another young woman. Since that time she says she has been celebate. He, in the meantime, has not. Currently he is serving time in prison for an alleged rape of a former girlfriend.
Both our housemothers express a desire to raise the children of Restoring Hope Village to know and honor the Lord. We have seen them reading scripture to the girls and they both seem to enjoy church. In fact, two weeks ago Mama Lizzar told me as we were driving home that she was disappointed that church was over, saying that she could have sat there the whole day. Of course, that is another thing typical of the African culture - Church services last for hours.
Since we have been impressed with both housemothers so far we can hopefully get some good recommendations from them. It is vital that our first hires become good examples both to the children and to future caregivers. It seems in these early stages that God has answered that prayer. Please continue to pray for our housemothers, their spiritual growth and leadership of the children, and that the children would come to know and love Christ as well.