Blog from Christi Howard . . .
Something happened to me at Susana Homes. No, I didn’t get malaria or salmonella! For years and years I’ve seen pictures of these beautiful children and I have heard stories about how they came to Susana Homes. I heard about Becky who was the “Village Witch.” A child so severely malnourished that although she was a toddler who could speak she was the size of a 6 month old baby whose legs could not support her own weight. I heard about Joy whose father tried to sell her as a slave for $30. Someone came to Susana Homes begging for Chi to intercede, which she did. The preacher left in the middle of his sermon and brought Joy back with him. When the father discovered his nancial opportunity was spoiled he came to Susana Homes and demanded for Chi to pay him the $30 and then he left Joy there. I have seen pictures of Barbara proudly wearing a purse our young girls made from Duct Tape and I have had a picture of baby Jonathan on my refrigerator for 6 months.
So for years I have waited and wondered what this mission trip would be like for me. When we drove into the compound all the children were singing and dancing and holding up signs saying Welcome Auntie Christi and Auntie Hanna. I started to cry!
Something happened to me at Susana Homes. For the next 10 days we played lots of camp games, we taught the babies and toddlers Bible Classes, we taught the older girls how to teach the babies and toddlers, we read books, we played more games, we had devotionals for the older girls and we helped with the Ladies Lectureship where more than 1,000 descended upon the complex. We gave out reading glasses and we did crafts and lessons for the lectureship. We chased balloons and we passed out bubbles and lollipops. I tried to memorize each child’s name. We talked to the college graduates about their hopes and dreams and teased them about nding husbands. I fed babies formula that I had brought in my suitcase. I watched Becky, the “village witch” work diligently in the nursery and love on the sweet babies. She is a beautiful young lady now!
Something happened to me at Susana Homes. A little boy named Uzochi climbed into my lap one day and I thought he was going to fall asleep as I cradled him in my arms. I asked if I should go lay him down in his bed. “No,” said Mama Chi. “This is what he needs right now.” From that time forward Uzochi and I were always together. Whenever I stepped out of Chi’s house, he was by my side in about 3 minutes. I think he put a tracking device on me! One day I was teaching a lesson for the young girl’s lectureship. I left Chi’s house alone and walked to the room that was full of 100+ girls. I had to speak loudly because there was no microphone. I spoke for 30 minutes and when I turned around, guess who had found me... Uzochi. He was waiting patiently and quietly for me. I never saw him sneak in or take his place behind me at the podium.
Something happened to me at Susana Homes. As we were getting ready to leave, Joy, whose father wanted to sell her as a slave, came up and slipped a note in my hand. She thanked me for coming and told me how much she loved our time together. She also sent a note for Sarah Palmer who monogramed her name on a bag just for her. I am so blessed to be a part of the lives of these little ones.
Something happened to me at Susana Homes. I am more joyful. I am lled with thanksgiving. My prayers are more constant. I have stronger determination. I have more faith. How is it I could come with so little and leave with so much? Why did God choose me and my family at Buford to help these precious souls? I don’t know, but I am so thankful He did!