Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pastor


“He is such a little love bug!” smiled a recent visitor from Bremerton, WA’s New Life Church, as she hugged COTN-SL’s latest family member. Julius ‘Pastor’ Amara arrived at COTN’s Banta Malnutrition Clinic in June of last year in the dreadfully swollen, listless and blistered condition of protein deficiency. After two weeks of care and a high protein diet sourced from the clinic’s therapeutic feeding garden, little Julius started to come back to life. When the Country Director, Rev. Angie Myles called staff to morning prayers, Julius would be the first to take a seat. When asked why he came he explained that he was a pastor, earning him the name he is now known by. A short time later Rev Angie sat down to lunch before Pastor’s food had been dished out. Standing at her door Pastor sang a little tongue-in-cheek song about how she was a very greedy lady to sit and enjoy her food without sharing any of it with a little boy like himself. “The cheeky little monkey” laughs Rev Angie at the memory.

“Everyone should go to church! You need to pray! You need to pray for the aunties! You need to pray for Uncle Mark!” Pastor, his legs looking a little too small to hold up the large belly malnutrition has left him with, walked around the Banta children’s home, one hand gesticulating wildly as the other held a water funnel turned loud speaker to his mouth. Preaching in Mende, Pastor soon had a crowd of children gather around him to enjoy their new little brother’s performance. Then, after this long call to prayer copied from the aunties in his new home he burst in to prayer himself. This time however he was mimicking what he had seen in his old village and so called out in a loud voice, “Allahu Akbar!"

Pastor’s former caregiver, Aunty Margaret, a friend of his deceased parents, had wept when it was time for him to be discharged from the malnutrition clinic. She had seen the change a month of proper care had made but knew that Pastor would inevitably decline again when she brought him home. She simply couldn’t take care of him properly. So she wept and asked COTN to step in. A few months later, in September 2008, Pastor joined the COTN family. It would be much later, in January of this year, when he was examined by a visiting dentist from Port Angeles, WA that we would discover how old Pastor is. His caregiver had not known and malnutrition’s effect made it difficult to hazard an accurate guess. So though he looks like he might be around five years old, he is actually seven.
Mende was the only language Pastor spoke when he first joined the Banta home but has picked up english and krio with impressive speed. A few short weeks after arriving he was walking up to the school complex with some of his brothers. Two of the older boys challenged each other to a race and sprinted off in a cloud of orange dust. "Run" a third boy called to Pastor in Mende (Wemi, prounounced weemay if you're interested!). Pastor walked on without looking at the third boy, flatly replying in perfect krio, "No, I would fall down."

The team from New Life Church were treated to one Pastor moment which they will not quickly forget. Arriving to celebrate Christmas and New Year with COTN-SL’s children, one of this team donned a certain red and white suit and bravely sweated away an afternoon. This red-faced Father Christmas sat on a stage in front of well over a hundred excited children, ably assisted by two somewhat cooler elves. Pastor sat at the feet of one of the elves, who he had recognised as his Uncle Mark (or Uncle “Man” as he called him at that point). After a wait Pastor’s patience started to falter. “Uncle Man”, he said tugging at the elf’s green shirt, “Where’s my own?” A short time later a wide grin spread across the elf’s face as Pastor’s moment arrived. Father Christmas handed over a bundle of gifts almost as big as Pastor himself, who with a look of startled excitement on his face, tottered off under this bulk to show his brothers and sisters.

2 comments:

Sarah Saunier said...

I am so glad to see that he is now at the COTN home. What a great little boy he is.

Laura and Scott said...

Yeah!! The photo is amazing of him -- how healthy he looks!! Thanks for sharing, Uncle Man! :) Love and miss you!

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