Books Read this 2015 #2

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Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption – Katie Davis

“I realized that there are no statistics in Katie’s world. There are only people, and every life matters.” – Beth Clark, Foreword to Kisses from Katie

I wasn’t looking for this book when I was browsing the bookshelf last January, but when I read the blurb, I knew I had to read the whole story about Katie Davis and her 14 adopted children.

Katie Davis gave up her life in the States to follow Jesus in a land of red dusty tracks and people who were poor in resources and peace in their communities but undoubtedly rich in faith and hope.

From Nashville, Tennessee, Katie decided to serve and live in Uganda after falling in love with it and its people when she had a missions trip there during Christmas break in her senior year of high school.

It was there that Katie became a mother as well, when she adopted 14 beautiful girls. Also, there were times when grandmothers, women, and other people who needed to heal visited Katie’s home in Uganda, and her little girls Prossy, Margaret, Agnes, Zuula, Mary, Hellen, Tibita, Sarah, Scovia, Joyce, Sumini, Jane, Grace, and Patricia would shower these people with love and care, just as their mother did. They loved their neighbors to a maximum.

“I have learned to be okay with this feeling because I have learned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person. I can change the world for fourteen little girls and for four hundred schoolchildren and for a sick and dying grandmother and for a malnourished, neglected, abused five-year-old. And if one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute. In fact, it is worth spending my life for.” – From Katie’s Introduction

My heart too only had love for these happy girls. Before knowing and being adopted by Katie, these girls have known war, conflict, disease, abuse, and loss in their bones at a young age, and I am immensely thankful that there is someone in this world like Katie who would not only look after them but also to serve them and provide them their needs. She did not only answer Jesus’ call, but she followed through. She wasn’t just a friend or a volunteer. She became a mother.

Just like Katie, there are so many people that we have not known about who have left their home countries to be missionaries as well. They braved to know and live the culture, to learn and speak the language to the best of their ability, and to share God’s Word despite these borders.

I feel so strongly about this book to the point that I worry of not being able to express my feelings exactly in words. Nevertheless, I will try to summarize the things I’ve learned from Katie and the incredible hope and love in her daughters.

1) Every life matters. Sometimes, when we hear news about someone who was killed or died in an accident, we tend to feel less towards this person and incline our outrage and sympathy more to when we hear of the demise of a larger number of people. But there is a danger in this too, for big numbers stagger our sympathy and make it see statistics first before each and every person who suffered. We fail to see the 54-year-old mother who had left 5 children. We fail to see the two-year-old who was supposed to turn three in just a few days. We fail to see the grandfather who would never get to see his grandson grow. We fail to see the people first.

“They are not anonymous, they are not statistics; they are people I love and people God loves. He wants the best for them, and so do I.” – p. 35

When somebody is being maltreated or needs help, we must help this person. When a hundred or a thousand is afflicted, we help them too, not jut by ourselves but with others too, hand-in-hand. By this time, they will be the one to continue sharing their blessings to others, because someone helped them first.

2) We can’t save the world by ourselves. To try may be possible, but to succeed in it is otherwise, so we start serving the ones next to us.

“A life changed is worth it, even if only one. God’s love made known is worth it, even if only to one. I will not save them all. But I will keep trying. I will say ‘Yes.’ I will stop for one.” – p.205

Eventually, the person we have helped changes, and then he will be the one to pass it forward to his community. The community changes for the better too, and sooner or later, the world will gradually trust in people’s kindness and redemption again.

“If these children couldn’t get an education, they would grow up to live the same kind of lives their parents and grandparents were living – unable to secure a job and unable to send their own children to school thus continuing the cycle of poverty. I knew that I myself could not change the village or the country of Uganda, but educated children could.” – p. 34

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3) You cannot tell and insist someone so simply that God is good or that Jesus loves them if this person only saw fighting and hurting while she grew up. You cannot expect her to believe whole-heartedly and immediately if she has endured pain alone without her parents or friends by her side. It will only be taken as a lie if we force them to believe this when what they have lived through is contradictory.

“I didn’t believe it was possible to tell a child about the love of Christ without simultaneously showing her that love by feeding her, clothing her, inviting her in. If a child has never known what love is, how can we expect him to accept the love of his Savior until we first make that love tangible? I wanted these children to know life to the fullest in a relationship with Him here on earth, and life everlasting with Him in heaven later.” – p.84

You must show someone first through your deeds. Show her that Jesus does love her by making her trust again. Sing her to sleep, make her feel comfortable in calling you her mother. Cook her favorite fish, educate her, hug her when she is scared, and assure her that you will always be there for her. By then, you won’t have to prove anything at all. She will begin to open up and believe in love again, in Jesus, because of your works partnered with loving words.

4) Offer all praise and hardships to God. Katie faced several problems and trials while she lived in Uganda. We do not usually go into detail when we talk about how we pay our bills, how tiring it is to do laundry and cook food for many people, how we pay attention to the questions our sons and daughters ask us while we need to do chores, how stressful it can be to fix adoption papers, how long the process it could be to raise funds and to establish and maintain Amazima, their ministry that aims to help other children in Uganda, how dangerous it is to live in a part in Uganda that was just a few miles away from where conflict brewed, how your heart wants to cry out because it has seen so many hurting people but you are just one person and you cannot be a savior to many, and how painful it is to live in a foreign country without the comfort of your old home and the company of your Mom, Dad, siblings, friends, and familiar faces. But despite these, Katie continues to fight the good fight for her children and what God wants her to do. I recall her writing that people say that she is such a brave and inspirational person for sacrificing so much to help serve in Uganda, but Katie insists that she is still the same as any other person. She is much more eager in raising all praise to Jesus; she said that she was simply answering the call that Jesus willed for her to do and fulfill.

“I hadn’t come to Uganda with a degree in education; I wasn’t a nurse; and I certainly didn’t consider myself a missionary. I had absolutely no idea what was involved in running a ministry and frankly did not posses the business knowledge or organizational skills required to do so. I was in no way qualified, but I was available.” – p.43, emphasis added

5) You don’t have to go to another foreign place to serve too, but if maybe that is specifically included in God’s plan for you, answer His call. While reading the book, I was moved to look around my own country. In our province, there is so much to do for our community. In the Philippines, poverty too has been a long-term issue we have been trying to solve. There are many marginalized here as well who needed voices to speak for them and hands to help them up.

“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible. Some days it is excruciatingly difficult, but the blessings far outweigh the hardships.” – From the Introduction

I may not be able to serve others in a foreign country, but here I was surrounded by others that only I can reach. I truly love the second commandment God gave us, that we must love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our neighbor. Our neighbor is anyone close to us, and it isn’t exclusive to only those who live next to our home.

When we walk to our offices, we pass by many people, physically close to us. They are our neighbors. When we think of our family and friends, they are our neighbors in heart and emotion. When we think of people who share the same faith as us, they can be our neighbors spiritually too. Basically, everyone is our neighbor, and we are called to love them – the ones close to us, the ones near us – as we love ourselves.

6) When you have hope, you can still smile. Some of Katie’s stories show how even if her daughters have gone through pain, abandonment, and sickness before, they can still laugh, smile, and dance like any other little girl should delight in doing. They had so little, but they now have each other and of course, their mother’s love. Because of this, I believe that we have to shift our minds to this purer and truer definition of wealth.

When Katie had to leave for a while to start her first term in college, that meant that she had to leave her children behind. This was a time she needed to trust in God that her daughters will be okay. In every trial she had to face, she trusted God, and that is something I need to relearn again during this time, for I worry about my Mom, my Dad, and our families, as we are far apart most of the time. We have to trust God that He will watch over us and the people we love.

“The farther away I got from home, the more my trust had to increase.” – p. 114

7) Some calls are long-term commitments, some are for life. Katie became a mother to 14 young girls. She adopted them, and I agree about her saying that adoption is to rescue children from tragedy or loss. To be a mother is such a sacred act, and I personally too feel in my heart that I want to be a mother someday by God’s will and time. I want for us to respect, honor, and love our mothers always, for they are love.

“It’s such a powerful name. Mommy means ‘I trust you.’ Mommy means ‘You will protect me.’ Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited, Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with them when you are sad or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place, a safe place. Mommy means you are mine and I am yours and we are family.” – p.57

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Our parents are God’s love manifested here on earth. May we never forget all the sacrifices they have offered just for us to grow up in love, discipline, care, and never-ending concern and embraces. If I too shall have my own daughter or son, may I be like my Mom, my Dad, my Tito’s and Tita’s, and Mama Mary.

Katie Davis, her family and friends in the US, and everyone she has been with to help 14 young girls and the people in their community and neighboring villages in Uganda, have been inspiring in heeding Jesus’ call for them to serve the poor and to love children.

My heart fills because of the love they have shared to others. I sincerely recommend this book, because we all can learn from Katie Davis and her daughters, her family and companions, and the people she has touched and have made their way into the pages of her book written in love.

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