A year ago this week we said Yes to JT. It was a year ago this week I checked my email and saw the line, “official referral” sitting in my inbox. We talked, we prayed, we talked, and we prayed some more. And then we said Yes. If only we had known then how much that Yes would change us. How much JT would change us.
He loved to color. He really did. I think he would have sat in my lap for days and just colored. I remember telling Dustin, “You’re going to have to bring some more coloring books and crayons because it’s only been a week and he’s almost colored a whole book.” He loved to pick up a color and tell you what it was in English. He would beam when you acted like it was SUCH A BIG DEAL that he knew that. He loved to point to the different pictures and for me to say what they were in English. He loved to repeat everything I said. There was this one picture of a monkey. He would flip to that page, point, look at me with this smirk and wait for my response. He knew after a while what it would be and he waited expectantly for it. Every single time I would point at the monkey, look at him and say, “JT!” And every single time he would ROAR with laughter. And then he would gather up all of his friends and we would do it again. And then they would ROAR with laughter. I would have gladly played this game for eternity if they would have let me.
He loved to color a picture and then proudly walk around showing it to everyone. He would BEAM when you acted like his picture was THE BEST PICTURE EVER. There was this one picture of an angel. He colored her with white skin and told everyone, “this is my mom.” He ripped that one out and kept it. Be still my heart.
He treated coloring like it was serious business. In a way it was for him. Every day he would ask if today was the day he would get to come home with me. Every day we would say not yet because it was true and we didn’t know when that day would be. At some point he started saying, “When I finish coloring every picture in this book, that’s when I get to go with my mom.” He was choosing to protect his heart with coloring. I left that coloring book with him the day I left. Sometimes I wonder what happened the day he finished coloring all the pictures. I know, right? It’s all too much for my heart, too.
Even though it hurts, we’re choosing to celebrate this week. [We’re also choosing cupcakes and wine and tears this week, too. Celebrating something that hurts is hard.] We’re choosing to celebrate a tiny person who has changed us in ways I never knew possible. We’re choosing to celebrate a little life that has impacted the masses. We’re choosing to celebrate a little boy who has entered into our story in a way I would never have chosen but am starting to be grateful for. We’re choosing to celebrate a little boy who has entered into a lot of people’s stories. And so we will celebrate.
We’re choosing to honor him this week through the thing he loved doing: coloring. We’re going to send a big box of coloring books and crayons over to Sole Hope in JT’s honor. Sole Hope is doing some really cool work in Uganda via jigger removal, prevention, and trade teaching. Jiggers are these nasty parasites that burrow under your skin, lay eggs, grow, and get infected. They are extremely painful and can cause diseases, amputation, and sometimes death. Sole Hope just does a lot of work in that area. They also teach their people the trade of shoe making because lack of shoes plays a big part in getting jiggers. It’s all really awesome and different and you should read more on their website. [As a fun fact: I got a jigger my first trip to Uganda. We found it upon our return to America. Dustin had to remove it in the back seat of our car in the Kroger parking lot with tweezers while I read him a step by step blog post about how to remove one. FUN TIMES!] If you’d like to send some coloring books and crayons to some little friends who are doing hard things in Uganda we’d be honored to have you do that on JT’s behalf. I’ve created an Amazon registry here (they will ship to our house and we’ll add them to the box). Or if you’d like to buy your own stuff and ship it to us, email me [firstname.lastname@example.org] and I can give you our address. Or if you’re in the area and you want to give stuff to us in person, let us know.
We’re also choosing to lift him up in prayer this week. We do this every week, but this week we’re inviting you to do it as well. Will you throw up a prayer for our buddy? We pray for things like health and safety and that he is still so happy and jolly. We pray he would know Jesus and we pray that Jesus will use him to do something mighty for the kingdom. We pray he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he is loved. We pray that Satan would stay away from him. We pray that Jesus would just wrap him up in this shield of protection. We pray for a Christian family for him. We pray Jesus would move on behalf of him; move in hearts and move people physically. We pray for opportunities for him. We pray that the words used to describe him will not ever define him, not the one time. We pray he knows that Jesus makes all things new, Jesus redeems, and Jesus restores.
And so we will celebrate and we will honor and we will pray. Thanks for joining in however you want to. Thanks for being a part of this story. Thanks for letting JT be a tiny part of your story, too. It means a whole lot to both of our hearts.
Here’s to you this week, JT. You are seriously loved, buddy. Thanks for being the kind of kid worth talking about. Oh, and you’re a monkey.