Does anyone remember Emmanuel? A couple years ago he was a patient at the hospital. He was a 12 year old boy who came in with his mother to have a mass removed from his arm. Jamie and I decided to be in on the surgery and observe. We didn't know the boy but we were interested in his case. A couple days went by and we really didn't give him too much thought.
Naomi was in the hospital with her youngest boy Daniel because he had malaria. I would bring her food every evening and Emmanuel was in the bed next to her. Naomi told me that she rarely saw anyone with him and when someone did come to help him it was a boy younger than himself. She never saw anyone feeding him and so she started to share the things I was bringing her. When she told me this then I began to visit him and develop a relationship with him. He had complications with his surgery and the blood supply was not being fed into his hand and it started to die. Dr Appel had to do surgery to amputate his hand. The healing of that was not going well and so Dr. Appel had to take it up even further because the infection was going to his bone. He had to go through another amputation surgery above his elbow.
Naomi eventually left with Daniel and I continued to visit him every afternoon. I brought him food and drinks and eventually I wanted him to start using his one hand that he did have and so I brought him a notebook and color pencils. I would draw him one picture and the next night when I would come visit he would have a picture ready for me that he drew. And after a short amount of time he started to draw pictures that seemed to be ones that were therapy for him like a tree with one branch cut off and on the ground with blood on it. I believe he was trying to process what happened to him.
After time he did get better and his mother took him home. But it was not long before she came back with him to talk to me and Naomi. She is a prostitute and she wanted to go back up to Ndjamena and work. She did not want to take him with her. She flat out told Naomi that she didn't want him and wanted me to take him. He was standing right there. I couldn't believe it. I took Naomi over to the side and explained to her that I can not take everyones kids. I can not do it. She looked at me and said that she would take him. I tried to talk her out of it and said we would find another way but she insisted. She said, "how can I stand before God if I do not take him"? And that is what she did. She took him home that night. All the belongings he had with him fit easily in a grocery bag.
Months went by, maybe over a year and Emmanuel was still with Naomi. He helped her so much with all her kids especially the little 4 year old, Daniel. He worked with them, played with them, went to church with them and prayed with them. He was now part of the family. But after a full year and after being a full year in the Adventist school here, it was summer time, and Emmanuel sat me and Naomi down. He wanted to know if we would give him our blessing to go and take care of his paraplegic father. There was word on the street that came to Emmanuel that his uncle was tired of taking care of his father and was plotting to kill him. He was going to poison him. We agreed to let him go and sent him on his way with some money for food. After a few weeks, maybe a month, he came back. He mainly came back for money for food. I wasn't surprised but asked him several questions about how it was going with his father. He would say that it was hard but ok. He would cry but we didn't understand why.
More time went by and Emmanuel never showed up again. School was getting ready to start. Naomi began to ask people in the market, that were from the same village as Emmanuel's father, questions as to what they knew about Emmanuel. We were starting to be concerned because we thought for sure he would show up again for school. But then we started to hear about where he really was. People were saying that he was taken in the forrest with the Lao people. Of course I had no idea who they were but my first instinct was to go and get him out. I was told that they were a very bad group of people, like satan worshipers. If I were to go I would be putting myself in danger. Everyone was very strict on not letting me go. All we ended up doing was praying for him and every now and then we would ask people if they knew he was ok.
I didn't know when or if I would see him again. Then one day just about a month ago he showed up, he was back. Its been over a year and he is home. He went straight to Naomi's and asked for forgiveness. She then talked to me about him and wanted to know what I think about accepting him back. I told her we should take him back, we should talk to him guide him and definitely take him back.
A couple days later Emmanuel and all Naomi's boys came to my house for a visit. I was so surprised and happy to see him. I went straight over to him and hugged him and didn't let go for a long time. I talked to all of them and had them go to the back porch where I gave them all warm sugar milk and cookies which is a real treat for them here. I visited for just a little while and asked a few questions. I then had to tell them I had to get back to work but would come out to visit them soon at their house.
A week went by and I took Brichelle and Hayley with me to visit at Naomi's. I wanted Hayley to experience the village in the bush. It is beautiful in a very raw way and so quiet compared to what we are use to next to the hospital with all the work going on around us. I always tell Naomi that God paints a picture for her everyday in the sky. I always appreciate the beauty in the sky when I am out there.
Anyways, after our hellos and donations that we brought her family she had some scrambled eggs for us (to eat with our hands) and something else that I really can't describe. We had a lot of laughs and visited for a while. Then I asked if I could read a bible story to her kids and have her interpret it into Nangjere,their local language. She agreed and I got out my blue children's bible story book. I told the story about the prodigal son. During the story Naomi had tears coming from her eyes. After the story I asked the kids a few questions. Then asked if Naomi and I could talk with Emmanuel alone. As soon as all the other children rounded the corner Emmanuel just flooded with uncontrollable tears. He said to us that he was like the son that left. He was so sorry and asked for forgiveness. We all were crying by this point. And with my arm around him I told him that God has already taken his sins and put them down in the deepest sea. We told him that after today we do not have to talk about this again. I told him that I read him that story not to make him feel bad like he was the bad son but to look at what the father was doing. I pointed out that the father looked for his son everyday. That the father went out running toward his son. Nothing needed to be said because the father loves His child no matter what he has done. I wanted him to know that God is the same with him. And that Naomi and I feel that same way. We are just so happy to have him back. But for right now Naomi and I are here for him and we want to know what happened to him if he feels like telling us.
He began his story about taking care of his father. Then after some time and trouble with the uncle he found himself being taken in the middle of the night by the people in the forrest. The uncle and the father had both been a part of this group or club when they were younger. The difference was that the uncle is the one who set up the kidnapping and the father wanted none of this for his son. After Emmanuel was taken the father crawled using his arms only to find his son in the forrest. He knew where they took him. Many people say that if you go there the people can kill you.
I have heard of other stories since that back this up. One women that I know that is about 70 years old went into the forrest to get her husband back that was a pastor at the time. When the people caught her they beat her so bad that she passed out and they gave her bloody tied up body back to the family. But after an hour or so after her being back with her family she woke up, they thought she was dead. He husband was brought back too and was hurt so bad that he never walked right again.
But to get back to Emmanuel's story. Because the father went through the initiation when he was younger and has the same marks that Emmanuel is now scared with on his one arm, they didn't kill his father. But his father begged them to let him go. They wouldn't allow it and sent the father back home with some other people. The journey to find his son wore on him that the father, being malnourished the way he was, began to wear down and his life was now limited.
After Emmanuel's first part of the rituals and initiation they let him go back home to his father because they were told his father was dying. After going to his father he was to come back to the group and do the second part of the initiation. When he got to his home his father was so sick and dying. His father begged him not to go back to the forrest. He knew of the things they do in there. He told Emmanuel to run back to Naomi and Tammy and stay in Bere and never leave. He begged him and after that his father died in Emmanuel's arm. At this point in the story Emmanuel has to take a break and walk away from us for his pain is so great.
By this time we all are crying. I felt so sorry for him. I told him I wanted to know what happened in there. What did they do to him? He said that he was not allowed to tell of the horrible things that happened in the forrest. He said that they made a potion and made him drink it as they cursed some spell on him. (so he is led to believe) That if he ever speaks of the things in the forrest he would die.
No one ever speaks of these things. I just know from so many it is really bad. Please pray for Emmanuel. He just wants to be a kid that goes to school and plays with his friends. I am afraid that the things that happened to him in there changed him a little. He now even looks more like a man. I can tell that he is internally damaged. But I know that God can work miracles in him and has already.