Almost one year ago I walked into Loving Hearts Babies Home in Uganda, Africa. It was maybe my third or fourth day in the country and I had met my fair share of adorable and lovable babies, children, and orphans.
But, I will never forget walking into Loving Hearts and laying eyes on this little man, Jonathon. Something about those big, brown eyes hit me and screamed for me to come pick him up....which, of course, I DID!
I've never fallen so in love, so quickly. Every free moment of my time at the orphanage was spent rocking, feeding, and cuddling this precious little guy.
He couldn't talk, walk, or sit up by himself. He hardly ever smiled or expressed emotion.
And yet, he taught me so much about the orphaned heart, and, in turn, my own heart and the Father's love for His children.
For a little over two weeks I bonded with Jonathon.
I honestly can't think of words that would accurately express how in love I was with this boy.
And then...it was time to go.
Back to the states.
Back to "normal" life in which I didn't get to share the love of the Father with sweet, little orphans every day.
To be honest, it was hard....but not as hard as I thought it would be.
I said goodbye to all the little kiddos, saving Jonathon until the last.
I rocked him, snuggled him, kissed him.
And I whispered my love and the love of His Father in his ear.
Then I tucked a cute little teddy bear I had brought as a gift into his bed with him and I said goodbye.
...but, it wasn't.
Secretly, I had a continuation of this story already played out in my mind.
Me adopting him was out of the question because Uganda has pretty strict adoption laws, but trust me I thought of trying.
BUT, some incredible friends from my church were adopting, specifically a little boy from that very orphanage. They had yet to be matched with their boy, but I had already planned it all out in my head.
Jonathon was theirs.
He was the one they were going to be matched with.
I just knew it!
So, goodbye wasn't that hard.
It was more like a smirky, "see ya' later..."
...because I thought I had it all figured out.
But, let me tell you....I did not.
Since leaving I have continued to pray and have firmly believed that somehow Jonathon would be matched with this family and that I'd be able to watch him grow up in their loving, wonderful, and Christ-filled home.
I was positive that was God's plan.
In fact, just Thursday night, I sat and talked with a missionary who had just spent time in Africa and she shared about a little boy she grew so close to while she was there. Her story reminded me so much of Jonathon and I. But, unlike Jonathon, her little boy was reunited with his parents, so the likelihood of her seeing him again was slim.
I prayed that God would somehow work a miracle and unite this perfect family from my church with Jonathon.
But, God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts...and He had a different plan.
Friday, I was sitting in a class when I felt my phone go off.
Usually I don't check my phone during class, but for some reason I did...maybe out of boredom (it was a particularly dry day in perspectives on literature) or maybe, subconsciously I knew I needed to.
So, I peeked at my phone to find a picture message.
I couldn't see the picture, but I could see the message was from this beautiful momma of this "perfect" family for Jonathon, and the message read: So sad. I'm fighting tears. Do you follow ARM (the ministry that Loving Hearts is under) on Facebook?
My heart sunk.
Something had happened.
I wanted to look at the picture to see what it was, but I waited to get back to my room to open the message...just in case...
Please, Lord, just not Jonathon.
I walked into my room and skipped looking at the message all together.
I got on ARM's Facebook page, going straight to the source.
And there before my eyes, was exactly what I dreaded.
A week ago Jonathon had fallen and hit his head pretty hard.
The orphanage thought he was okay, but Thursday night around 10:00 o'clock, Jonathon passed away.
Just like that.
From bumping his head.
His sweet, little, precious brown head....
Needless to say, I had a mini breakdown...(and by mini, I really mean full blown sob-fest.)
I was crying and praying and crying some more...
How could this be Your plan, God?
This wasn't the way things were supposed to happen!
From bumping his head? Really? Did anyone even take him to the doctor? Was he in pain and no one knew?
How is that even possible? If that happened in the states, he never would have died!
It something like that happened, there would be lawsuits of all kinds!
God, I was supposed to see him again!
He was supposed to be adopted into this perfect family!
And then, in the midst of my tears, I heard what words were coming out of my mouth.
"Lord, You are still sovereign. Even now, You are still holy."
My own words hit me full force.
Yes, even now...even when I just want to scream and yell at God and question His plans...even now, no matter the circumstance, He is still so Holy and so incredibly Sovereign.
God has a much bigger plan in place here- one that is far greater than the one I had played out in my mind.
And now, just as I had asked, Jonathon is dancing in the presence of his perfect family...because there's really no more perfect family than the family of the Father.
So, even though my heart is broken, and my plans and dreams did not play out the way I hoped, I will rejoice in knowing that sweet little Jonathon has made it home to his Daddy and is no longer living as an orphan of this world.