We are continually plagued by internet problems this trip so that we are often out of touch or blocked from sending. I’m hoping this post will be able to go out today.

The story of James continues with a listing of some of the strange and wonderful things that happened to him and that eventually led him back to us. We are telling you these things so you can see the same God we have seen at work here.

The police turned James over to the organization Retrak (www.retrak.org) because they have the mission of reconnecting runaway children with their families. They received James in mid- to late January, so all the time we were praying and calling out to God, He had already answered our prayer about giving James an advocate to protect him and keep him safe. Every day until we heard that they had James on April 13, we would pray,  “Lord, today would be a good day for James to come home.” The tenor of what we heard from God during all this time was quiet comfort and assurance, “I have him, he is Mine. He is safe.”Little did we understand this as we agonized and continually pushed our negative imaginations away.

I am told that Retrak began with the vision of one man, a visiting photographer, whose heart was captured by all the street children he observed on his travels, children who slept on the streets and under bushes and who begged for their food. The Retrak website is worth your time as it shows how God gives a burden, then raises up a ministry to meet that burden, using normal people with extraordinary love and faith. What has resulted over the years is an organization that has grown from an apartment that ministered to street children to a multi-national ministry that gathers these lost children into classrooms to put them into an educational mindset while they trace their families, dormitories where they can sleep safely, kitchens and dining areas to feed them, offices where the retracing task is carried out, etc. And according to their website they are in all of Africa and even South America. We plan to visit their office in Kampala at some point in the future to get the whole picture. It is also telling that the workers of Retrak have bonded so strongly to this little deaf boy that when it was time to deliver him to Jinja, he insisted that three of them accompany him, and they did! Three men did not need to accompany one small boy to get the job done – they came out of love, and maybe curiosity to see about these strange “white parents.”

Every child that God sends to Retrak is taken to the doctor and evaluated. They discovered that James had two rotten teeth in the back of his mouth. He must have been in terrible pain. James was so frightened and unwilling for the dentist to treat him that they had to put him out, remove the teeth, then reawaken him. When he came back to himself, they told us that immediately he smiled because the pain was gone.

They also took him to have his hearing evaluated, just as we had done. He saw a nurse in the speech and language department of the large government hospital in Kampala. They found that he did have some hearing, as we had discovered, but they were not as negative about his prognosis for future speech as the other people had been with us. The therapist had modeled some sounds to him, and he was able clearly to mimic some of her suggestions. In fact, we even caught him saying, clearly enough for us to understand him, “Hallelujah, Amen,” which is something Ugandans say frequently. Now I haven’t told you the interesting part of this.

When Gail was visiting Irene, her friend in Mukono, a nearby suburb to Kampala, a friend of Irene’s dropped by to visit. Gail had actually met her the last time she was there a year ago, so it was a warm time of greeting. This woman was from Gulu, and now worked at the government hospital in Kampala. This woman is not only a nurse, but she works in the speech and language department. Are you sensing where this is going? She mentioned to Gail that she knew this organization Retrak, and that just recently they had brought her a deaf boy for evaluation in the hospital. I think you’ve got it. This friend of a friend, from Gulu, saw our boy James safe and secure before we ever did! Now God has a tremendous sense of humor, I think. This is another way He said to us, “Be at peace. He is Mine. I have had him all this time.”

Part 4 to follow…