Global Health Blog

Share This    

Spunk and Love

April 14, 2017

by Judy Palpant

"Let parents, then, bequeath to their children not a heap of riches, but the spirit of reverence." Plato

Author and psychologist Mary Pipher encourages parents to expose their children to beauty and goodness. Thus it was, before home school each morning in Kenya, we walked past hedges and the hospital to stand and stare at majestic Mt. Elgon. Evenings we walked to the acacia tree guarding the compound gate to view the red orbed sun setting over the valley. Creation's beauty pointed to our Creator's goodness.

We also found beauty and goodness in the people around us. But with certain individuals, their own choices left them in difficult and debauched situations. I faced such a dilemma with Scholastica, a Ugandan teacher at the school. To reach her with God's love required more than unlocking the gate between the hospital and school compounds. The real hurdles were her hard-heartedness and spiritual hostility.

Scholastica had just given birth to a baby girl. "What effect will this new little life have on brazen Scholastica?" I wondered. My apprehensions grew as I packed a basket with gifts for the new mother and child. "Bright mind. Sharp wit. Unabashedly flirtatious. Unwed mother. Will she welcome a visit from us, the wife and daughter of the American medical missionary?" Royal blood coursed through her veins, a heritage hearkening back to the past when kings ruled Uganda. Now she resented her refugee status in Kenya. With basket in hand I set off with my 3-year-old daughter Andrea.

"Come in!" Scholastica greeted us. Tall and attractive, she cradled baby Rose in one arm as she opened the door with the other. Andrea skipped into the room. She begged to see the baby, inquisitively pointing to her tiny nose and toes. Then she helped me unpack the basket.

"A loaf of homemade bread!" exclaimed Scholastica. "Tea leaves and sugar! Wonderful!"

"Isn't God good? He has blessed you with a healthy baby girl," I observed.

"Stop," she said firmly. "Your words pierce my heart."

"Ah, Lord," I prayed silently, "Help me to be tender without sounding pious."

In the ensuing days, I chose to walk carefully in my relationship with Scholastica. But she welcomed Andrea's visits to help feed, change and bathe Rose. Her innocence and natural affection softened Scholastica's heart. Years later, she remembered Andrea's curiosity and care: "Such spunk! So much love! So many questions!"

After we left Kenya in 1985, Scholastica was falsely accused of spying for Uganda and was sent to prison for a time. The Christians sacrificially and lovingly cared for Rose and visited Scholastica. After her release, she returned to Uganda and taught at a boarding school located on Lake Victoria. There, she eventually accepted the truth of Christ and His beauty and goodness transformed her life. When we visited her a few years ago, she hugged me so hard I thought I might break in half.

"My precious Lord. He can do anything," she said as we drank chai together. "I have raised two lovely girls. They are both Christians. I told them to own their faith. And I have a parenting secret," she went on. "It is prayer." With both girls in college, Scholastica told us she gave each one funds to use as capital so they could bake cakes and raise their own pocket money.

As we said our goodbyes, she expressed her longing to meet the adult Andrea who once exhibited such spunk and expressed so much love. "Tell her to come. We will fish. We will dig potatoes. We will talk."

comments powered by Disqus