When I first met this little boy that wrapped himself around our hearts, he was without a name, expected to die. God gave us the honor of holding him, loving him, naming Him, and speaking life over him, and gave me the honor of mothering him, feeding him at my breast, for a little while. I heard God speaking that Samuel would bring change, he would be used by God. I tried to not plan out in my mind what that meant, but that is nearly impossible. I thought maybe He would become a man who would go back to his tribe to show them Jesus, that He would grow strong and change the world in big ways. I thought I knew a little bit of what this would mean.
France and I felt we were to take him in and give him a chance at life... We studied and learned how to re-feed severely malnourished children, prepared for him a place in our family, even if for just a season.
Our girls prayed for “baby Samil” every night, and we celebrated the life of this special boy.
Last week, on our way to Manila for a wedding, we went to be with Samuel for a while. I cradled him in my arms, kissed his downy head, and we talked. Samuel had been sleeping most of the time, but when he heard my voice, he opened his wise old eyes and stared into mine. I began to sing over him the song I sing to my girls every night as they fall asleep... “Jesus loves Samuel this I know, for the Bible tells me so, little ones to Him belong, you are weak but Jesus is strong. Yes, Jesus loves Samuel, yes Jesus loves Samuel....” He watched me the whole time I sang, never looking away. His mouth lifted at the corner and he snuggled deeper into my chest. A few days later, he was gone.
Today in the presence of Jesus, his mama is holding three of her children, and they are whole. I can't imagine the fullness of their joy.
Our hearts are groaning, aching for his father, Rodrigo, a godly amazing man, who continues to praise God in the face of unspeakable loss. He is so special to us, as well as his uncles, Nardo and Leo. In the middle of this, Samuel's uncle Leo came to Francis wanting to know more about God, and then he gave His life to Jesus.
Today, even in the middle of this puddle of tears, there is a peace settling deep in my spirit. I understand next to nothing, except that God is good, He is holding Samuel, and He knows why the story is being written this way.
I hate death, and am longing even more for heaven, where life will no longer be interrupted, but instead of being overwhelmed with just what we have lost right now, I feel God speaking that we are to look at what we were given. Samuel's life touched ours in big ways --what a gift to have loved this child, even for a moment. His life was meaningful, his days were planned out by God, and he had purpose. His spirit was tenacious and strong, and he fought valiantly with everything in him.
Life is fragile---here for a moment and then gone. A vapor. What matters is how we love the people who are given to us, the people who show up in our life needing to see, feel, taste, and know love. We will never regret loving better, pouring out scandalous, lavish amounts of love like Jesus does. Our hearts have been made more full because of Samuel, and for this I am thankful.