Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Moali update

A few months ago after I wrote my entry about our little South African girl, Moali, some amazing things happened. And I don't use 'amazing' lightly since I generally loathe when people use that word. First of all, my friend Melanie read the entry and decided to do a little sleuthing of her own. She managed to do in about 5 minutes what I hadn't been able to in a year. She got ahold of the writer of the Tribune article where I had originally read Moali's story. Then I was able to begin writing to her, Laurie Goering, too. She gave me the phone number for the woman who runs the drop-in center where Moali goes. I purchased an international calling card to Johannesburg, and before I knew it, after all this time, I was talking to Elizabeth Rapuleng in Soweto, South Africa!

Between our two accents and a not-so-great connection, it wasn't that easy, but I found that Moali is still in her same foster home. It's a horrible situation, though she didn't detail why. Her hope (and she is working with a social worker) is to get Moali into a boarding school. In South Africa, school is free, but the boarding costs. I told her that we will pay the boarding school fees. Over the Christmas holiday, I was able to write letters and send a care package and Bible to Moali. It's unbelievable--a year ago I had no idea where to find her--and this year we're actually able to talk to her and help.

I talked to Elizabeth again last week. Not much has progressed in the last couple of months. Moali is still living with her guardian, whom Elizabeth calls "a devil." (It makes my blood run cold.) She tried to visit her over the Christmas holidays, but the guardian had locked up the house and wouldn't answer the door. She's continuing to try to get her into boarding school where "she can finally breathe." She was thrilled with the money we sent for Moali and says it will help so much. I'm hoping that (sadly) money will be a little leverage now to helping remove her from this situation.

Another interesting thing about all this is all the people I've met. Through my search, I've made a new friend, Danny Lucas, who lives in Florida. He actually met Elizabeth when she came to the United States last year in search of funding for her organization (she didn't get any and left early because she missed all the kids so much). Through Danny, I've come in contact with another friend of Elizabeth's in Holland, who started an organization called Kuddlies 4 Kids. He collects stuffed animals from anyone who will donate and gets them to AIDS orphanages in South Africa. He says that often, this is the only toy most of the children will ever have, and they clutch them as they lay dying. I've met another woman who helps South African children, Maureen, and she seems to know the court system of SA pretty well. In addition, of course, Laurie Goering who does the incredible writing of some of these stories.

Last week, Darren called me on the way home from work to tell me to log on to Moody radio because they were about to interview a woman from South Africa. What an unbelievable story. She is a woman named Heather Reynolds. She used to be an atheist. One night she was driving down a hill with her baby in the backseat. She pushed down on the brake pedal, and it was completely gone. Of course, a car was coming through the intersection at the bottom of the hill, and she crashed into it, totaling both cars. Eventually, she realized that she was completely unhurt, but she couldn't even see into the backseat--it was a mass of mangled metal. She got out and said, "God, if my son is alive, I will love You and serve You for the rest of my life." She reached into the back, saw the baby's blanket, pulled on it, and out he came--not a scratch on him.

Then came the realization that she had totaled the other driver's obviously new Jaguar. She saw two tall men, wearing tennis clothes, coming over to her, and she waited for the inevitable verbal beating she was going to get. Instead, one of the men put his hand on her shoulder and said, "Are you all right? Is your baby all right?" when she answered affirmatively, he said, "Then let's pray right now and thank God that none of us was hurt."

Since that night, she has started a wonderful organization called God's Golden Acre. She houses, feeds, provides schooling and medication, and in general just loves on South African orphans either with AIDS or who have been affected by AIDS. She says in the name of Jesus, she never turns anyone away who needs help. All the children call her "Gogo" (Zulu for Grandmother). [And get this: after she began the organization, she knew she needed someone to run the financial aspect of it. One of her fellow workers came to her and said, "I have the most wonderful man and he's agreed to do it!" She said, "I can't just take on someone I don't even know, who is this man?" The worker gave the man's name, and it was the same man who Heather had totaled his Jaguar that night 20 years before.]

Well, this has become a long story and it's still unfolding. I wrote immediately to Elizabeth after hearing Heather's story, wondering if maybe Moali could go there (it's not far from Soweto/Gauteng Province). Another idea I've had is if Moali could come here on a foreign exchange program and live with us. I've found that the expense for that is really high, but...it seems like God has been doing some miracles here, so I just keep praying for more.

Stay tuned!

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