Thursday, June 16, 2005

Something About Mary

Knowing that Annika is a big fan of the boone box, I'd intended to keep the recap of the LPGA Championship at the top of my blog until she'd had a chance to read it. But circumstances compel me to submit the following post. (Annika, scroll down to the next story to see how I fumbled all over myself trying to describe how great you are.)

Our dear friends, Scott and Emily Glisson and their four children, have given up their little slice of the American dream to live in a Ugandan nightmare. Two years ago, the Glissons left everything - family, friends, SUVs, 401(k)s, normalcy - and moved to Mbarara, Uganda to join a small group of Americans who are serving the natives there through medical help, education, and friendship. No quid pro quos. No insistence that the locals come to church if they want help. Just lots of love in very tangible ways, including being the hands, feet - and as you're about to read - the arms of Christ.

June 6

Hi Amy,

Just wanted to tell you about the last couple of days I’ve had - - good ones for sure, but crazy busy…

The hospital called and said that there was an abandoned baby that needed a short-term foster home - - effective immediately. Our family has been SO interested in doing that and I usually go to the hospital on Fridays just to check in and to see if there is any way our family can help with those babies, but today was the first day the actually needed us.... Our kids were so excited about our first foster baby (we all were!) and I hoofed it over to the hospital to check it all out. Well, the baby is sick, so very sick. Her mother died this morning and there were no relatives to take the baby back home (and how do you even find them with small villages dotting the map?). She has pneumonia, malaria and is severely malnourished, and even though she is 8 months old, she looks like an alert newborn. It is so sad! She is not ready to be discharged yet, due to her ailments.... So we’ll just go and check on her every day (taking clothes, blankets, maybe even milk??) until she is released. And then we will love on her for a short time and help her get back on her feet before we deliver her to an orphanage an hour and a half away. On my walk back home, I kept thanking the Lord for such an awesome privilege to care for a baby who has absolutely nobody in this world thinking about her tonight. And I prayed for that anonymous lady who died all alone this morning. Who was she? What was her story? And does anybody even know that she is now gone?

Tonight, my four little ones are snug in their beds and I’m feeling exhausted physically....and a little melancholy for those babies who just don’t ever have a chance…



June 14

Hi there,

What really has me sad is our poor baby….she is the saddest thing you have ever seen! We call her “Mary” even though we don’t really know her name. Her mom was Mbabazi, and that seemed too hard for our kids to pronounce. She is 8 months old, but can’t sit up or even control her head very well b/c she is less than 8 tiny pounds! Her arms are the size of my index finger – just a poor little bag of bones. Anyway, I’ve been going up to the hospital once or twice a day to feed her or take her medicine (the hospital ran out) since she doesn’t have anyone to take care of her. One day last week, I held her for a long time outside in the sunshine and sang little songs to her, changed the sheets on her bed, gave her a sponge bath with my WetOnes antibacterial wipes, sat with her during her blood testing, and fed her some high energy milk. I was hopeful – I was seriously thinking about bringing her to my house to ensure that she has good feeding and care since the nurses just don’t have time. (There are 100 children and only 2 nurses!) I figured I could always go up there once or twice a day to get her injections and just keep her at home, setting my alarm to feed her every 2-3 hours. BUT when I went back the very next day, she looked absolutely awful…and she was gray and cold. Not a good sign. While I was there, the doctor moved her immediately to critical care and we started feeding her through a feeding tube in her nose since she was literally on her death bed. It broke my heart. (And then I passed out, which was not a pretty sight right there in front of 50 traditionally dressed Ugandan mamas and their snotty nosed kids.) And when I went back that afternoon, they had removed her from critical care and taken the feeding tube out of her nose and completely given up hope – she was in the last stages of AIDS. And so, she has moved even further down the line of priorities at the hospital. It has been a hard week as I contemplate the “whys” and “what nows” of life, and of baby Mary’s life specifically. But even then, I have felt a tremendous sense of fulfillment caring for this baby in her last days. No baby deserves to die alone. The last few days I have been dosing her up really good on Children’s Tylenol, and we all are praying that she rests peacefully and dies quickly. Did she ever have a mama who loved her – who delighted in her smile? Or has she been wimpering and moaning for her entire existence?

When the hospital called me on Saturday, I assumed they were calling to say that Mary had passed away. So I braced myself. But they were actually calling to say that there was ANOTHER abandoned baby who needed some TLC, and to please come quickly. This one was only a week and a half old and her mother had died of pneumonia the day before. This tiny baby is just that – tiny!! She seems to be in perfect health, but she weighs only 2 pounds. I fed her with a syringe in one of the rooms in the hospital while stomping my feet to keep the rat who was running from wall to wall away from me! When the doctor opened an official file on the baby, he asked me what her name was. Well…? I had just met her five minutes before and wasn’t really planning to name a baby that day…but I named her “Grace”. And I am praying that the Lord gives her plenty of it as she struggles to grow and thrive in this fallen world. After what feels like a million trips to the hospital over the weekend, I was able to bring baby Grace to our home yesterday afternoon. She is very alert and sweet and did I mention – tiny?? We aim to feed her 1 ounce of formula every 3 hours and she fits nicely inside a shoe box! I’ll have to send you pictures…

Meanwhile, I’m delivering baby Mary to the orphanage on Thursday. I know the Catholic sisters who run the place and I know they will give her lots of love and attention in what may be her last days. She is so sick and yet she knows my voice; when I sing to her over her bed, she reaches for my hand to pull closely to her face; her stiff and severely malnourished body relaxes completely when I hold her in my arms….I will never be the same after loving on her. Please pray for all of us as we make that tearful transfer on Thursday.

Love and Miss you,


June 16

Our sweet Baby Mary passed away last night…Of course, I am sad. But I am also so very thankful that she is now completely out of her pain and with the Lord Jesus - - his arms are much more tender than mine.

Thank you for your prayers.



Joel said...

I watched the Open this morning and was struck at the incredible distance between me and those great golfers. There is even a great void between my suffering and the suffering of so many. I face scrapes that a band aid of a few days/weeks/months can cure. Other live with tumors of torment and diseases of depression that never leave and only the grave can cure.

I'll take a shack on a rock over a castle in the sand. Praise God for Scott and Emily! Annika is a great golfer (From what you say - an equally great human) but I am hoping that my heroes are always the ones who hold the hurting and trade dreams for nightmares in exchange for God's glory!

stuckinthe80s said...

Gee...I clicked "Post A Comment," but I can't think of anything to say. What an awesome family!

Rob said...

Grant...send me Scott and Emily's email address please. We lost touch with them when they left Atlanta which was a long time ago indeed. Thanks.

Brandon Scott Thomas said...

We love Scott and EMily too. So glad they're over there.

Karen Beth Goad said...

Grant...I've been reading your blogs thanks to Brandon's link and always look forward to your wonderful insight on golf, life, fatherhood, etc; and your sense of humor still cracks me up as much as "Choppin Broccoli." Today's blog was just incredible! I don't know the wonderful family you wrote about, but thank you for sharing their story! There struggles put my own personal priorities back in order!! What an awesome testimony they are! Take care and give Amy my best! Karen (Houk) Goad

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