| Jun 16, 2013
Day Four -- Tacoma to Spanaway, WA
9 miles walked today.
158 miles to go
I never thought I’d spend a Father’s Day in Spanaway, WA. That’s not to be critical of Spanaway—a little town about 12 miles south of Tacoma. It’s simply where my walking route took me today.
Even though I didn’t know a soul in Spanaway, I had a great Father’s Day. Early in the morning, our son, Matt, called from Chicago with happy Father’s Day wishes. Then, Lynn and I attended a Father’s Day worship service at a Tacoma church.
After church, Ann Klein, a member of our board of directors and one of my all-time favorite people, met us to walk with me. I was impressed that Ann came prepared to walk the entire 9 mile distance I planned to cover today. Only later did I find out that Ann was a speed walker in the Junior Olympics. She still has the form and, believe me, she can still set the pace.
Ann and I had a wonderful time, reflecting on God’s goodness on the work of Medical Teams International and talking about Ann’s father, who died a number of years ago.
Later that afternoon, our daughter, Alisa, and her husband, Joe, came from Portland to walk with us.
What father could ask for more on a Father’s Day than to be with his children, his wife and a good friend?
That’s not the case for some of the fathers that Lynn and I met during a visit to a refugee camp in southern Uganda in April.
Many fathers we met at this camp had lost children, wives or other family members to the attacks of rebel troops that have ravaged a number of countries in Central Africa.
Sadik was one father whose village had been attacked by rebel soldiers. When the shooting started, Sadik quickly ran out the back door, thinking his wife, with their two-year old daughter on her back, was right behind him. Sadik’s wife was pregnant and couldn’t run well. As a result, she was cut down by the rebels and killed, as was Sadik’s daughter.
That night, Sadik slept in the bushes. The next morning, he went back to his village and found that the rebels had burned all of the houses. He left with only the clothes on his back. It took him a week to walk to safety. He now lives in a small, dark mud hut in the refugee camp.
Sadik has heard that five of his six siblings and his parents were killed in the conflict. He has been unable to go back to check. He’s all alone in the world, having lost his entire family.
Where do fathers like Sadik find hope after experiencing such suffering? Sadik told us that he gets hope from the food assistance he receives. When he can’t get work, he has a friend who will share food with him. When he’s sick, he can go to the health center run by Medical Teams International. “I have eaten. I will get treatment, and I’m with people who help me and help each other. Friends at my church pray with me.”
When we asked if we could pray with him, Sadik prayed first—for us. When we stepped out of Sadik’s hut, a group of children had gathered. We asked if they would sing for us. Sadik led them in a worship song that praised God for His goodness.
This Father’s Day, I’m grateful for the love of my family and friends. I’m grateful for the Medical Teams International staff and volunteers in places like Uganda who are working so hard to show the love of Christ to people like Sadik. And, I’m praying for fathers in refugee camps around the world—that they may find the hope and peace that Sadik has found through faith in God as his heavenly father.