Our family is thrilled with the announcement that my amazing niece, Meagan Hawley, has been named Distinguished Young Alumna 2013 by Oklahoma Christian University and will be honored in person by her alma mater in early November. She is the daughter of my brother, Dave, and his gorgeous wife, Sally. Meagan is on her second tour of duty with the Namwianga Mission in Zambia, a Christian work where she takes care of orphaned and abandoned babies, many of whom are HIV+. I wrote this about Meagan on December 10, 2006.
It is getting close to Christmas and I am starting to really miss my niece, Meagan. She moved to Zambia in October to work with orphaned children and this is her first Christmas away from her family. My loneliness will shift into full gear as December 25 looms closer. For years, Meagan has, with her cousin and my other niece, Karis, guided me through holiday shopping. Thank goodness I won't be rendered niece-less but I will feel an emptiness. Through the magic of the internet, Meagan updates us on daily life in Africa. Friday's report was difficult to read and must have been traumatic to write. Meagan related holding a baby through the night who was HIV positive and dying. She spoke of having Baby Adam in her arms in the last hours of his life while she sobbed and sang to him songs of the Lord as an IV dripped into his skull. The infant's father was notified but did not come to see his child in the fleeting minutes of life. Meagan told how her anger and frustration ebbed as in the nightly worship, their group of Christians sang, "My Jesus, I Love Thee." My niece was touched by these lines and the thought of Baby Adam being in the presence of the Lord:
"In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright.
I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow."
We sang that same hymn this morning in our English-speaking worship in Houston. It's funny how an association can bring insights and powerful meanings to words you have repeated for years. Later this morning, in our Chinese worship, we continued the learning of new hymns. I should say new to my Chinese brothers and sisters. Our group sang The Old Rugged Cross for the first time. Like most of you, I could sing that gospel standard blindfolded, but I have never heard it quite the way it sounds in the Mandarin language. Those lyrics of praise have a freshness for our Asian Christian friends that I wish I could recapture but familiarity does not preclude updated perspectives. Tonight, we sang Mansion Over The Hilltop in our English service. Still trying to get a handle emotionally on Meagan's story of Adam, I was struck by the chorus I had mouthed thoughtlessly for years:
"I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old."
That little boy Meagan comforted and loved never had the chance to grow old. He never knew his family and he never learned to read. He never ran, swam, played tag, or made a friend. He never hugged his mother or daddy good-bye. But in his final moments before going to Jesus, he was not abandoned by my precious niece or her equally precious co-workers. Not everyone can do that work for a year or especially a lifetime. Praise the Lord some have the heart of the Savior. So this Christmas, Meagan, I will make the usual forays into Bath And Body Works and Borders with Karis and we will eat Chinese food in the mall food court but it won't be quite the same. You keep loving the babies. We need you...but they need you more. I love you, Meagan.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Death is a distant rumor to the young."
Andrew A. Rooney
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