Yesterday, I shared with you that this week, Three Hearts, comes out on DVD. Three Hearts, follows my journey as an intern with Children’s Heart Project while I help bring three children to the United States for life-saving heart surgery.
Children’s Heart Project would not be possible with out hospitals who donate their services, host families who open up their home, and host churches who love on the families. I asked my friend, Emily Trivette, to share about her recent experience as a host family with Children’s Heart Project.
A few months ago our family had the absolute privilege of opening our home as hosts for Children’s Heart Project. For a month, we had the opportunity to lavishly love a little one-year-old named George and his mother, Agnes, in the Name of Jesus.
When we first met at the airport, Lois (Agnes’ interpreter) was all smiles as she introduced us to Agnes and George. Agnes was a little timid but when she greeted me, she called me “Mama Jake.” When I heard her call me that, I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest! Having been in Uganda a couple months prior, I knew that the affectionate way to address a friend was to call them “Mama,” followed by the name of one of their children – in my case, “Jake.” I must have had the goofiest grin come across my face as I said, “Hello Mama George!” And like that, we were friends.
Within days we all found ourselves at the hospital so George could have his open-heart surgery. What a privilege it was for us to love on Agnes during that time. At one point a nurse came out to tell us that surgery had begun. When she said that George was on the heart and lung machine, my own heart sank. We sat and prayed for his precious little body that was lying very still, but in that moment, I had full confidence that George’s consciousness wasn’t anywhere near that operating table. I could only imagine him sitting on Jesus’ lap, being loved on until it was all over and time for him to wake up.
Seven hours after George was taken back, the surgeon came out and said he was finished and that the surgery was a success. We watched relief wash over Agnes. Praise the Lord for all that was done that day, not only in George’s heart, but in Agnes’ also. George was in the hospital for about a week before they were all able to come home with us.
Their first night in our home was one I will never forget. When they arrived, Agnes found a welcome basket in her bedroom. When she started pulling things out and saw that it was filled with things for her and George, she literally hit the floor. She was overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness. She fell, kneeling, in silent reverence.
We were all very quiet.
And then, she got up and the singing and dancing began! What a celebration we had! Lois and Agnes’ voices filled the room as they sang praises to the Lord! It was one of the sweetest moments of praise and worship I’ve ever experienced.
The next four weeks were filled with the same joy. How fortunate we were to have them in our home over Christmas. One of the gifts Agnes received that morning was a Bible with her name on it. It was very sweet that Christmas fell on a Sunday and Agnes was thrilled to bring her new Bible to church. She carried it in the box to be sure nothing would happen to it. Our pastor preached a very simple John 3:16 message and followed it with an altar call. My heart was overjoyed when I saw Agnes stand up! I had the absolute privilege of walking this sweet mother down the aisle as she dedicated her life to Jesus Christ.
Agnes later shared her testimony with us and it was difficult to hear. She had suffered great loss and betrayal in her life and until she was contacted by Children’s Heart Project, she felt like God had forgotten her. She said that after she came to America and saw people love her in Jesus’ Name, she understood Jesus’ own love for her and wanted to dedicate her life to Him. How blessed we were to love and encourage her in this decision.
Our six weeks with these precious people were filled with laughter, tears, and memories that none of us will ever forget. The night before they left, I had the privilege of having individual prayer time with both Agnes and Lois. After I prayed with Agnes, I gave her some money that our church wanted to send home with her. When she saw it, she buried her face in my lap. I leaned over her and we both just cried into each other. When my sweet sister sat up, she looked at me and said, “You love me because I’m poor.” I shook my head no and told her, “I don’t love you because you are poor. I would love you if you were poor. I would love you if you were rich. I would love you if you were little. I would love you if you were big. I would love you if you were white. I would love you if were black. I love you because God loves you and He tells us to love each other.” She shook her head like she understood and then started crying again, this time harder. She said, “Mama Jake, you have given me so much, I have nothing to give you back.” I couldn’t help but smile as I told her, “That is exactly what our heavenly Father has done for us. He has given us the gift of His Son and we will never be able to pay Him back for that. But we can love in His name.”
The next morning was a very somber one. In six weeks, these three precious people had become part of our family. We had cried together, joked together, laughed together (and at each other) and become a part of each other’s hearts.
Before they left, we all held hands and prayed. During Lois’ prayer, she said, “I know we will never be able to repay those who have blessed us here, so Lord, we ask that you especially bless them on our behalf.”
How beautiful that our sentiments were exactly the same.