I am the youngest of 8 children. My mother got married when she was about 13 years old and had her first child when she was 14.
After living with my father for about 20 years, she decided to leave him because of his unfaithfulness. She left dad’s house taking all of us children with her. She found a small house for us to move into, but without a good job, mum could not afford the rent.
We moved out to a cheaper place where all nine of us shared the same bedroom. We lived there for ….. months when suddenly, the owner increased the rent,meaning once again we had to move. This was really hard for my mother - moving out of a house onto the street with 8 children and nowhere to live.
While we were sitting on the side of the street not knowing where to go, one of mum’s workmates saw us. He was on his way home and it was now about 1 o’clock in the morning. When he heard what had happened he said we could all stay with him. This was not a good solution though, because this man had a son who was mentally ill.
After one day there, mum decided to apply for a government house. However, she was told that she didn’t meet all the requirements for having a home. By some miracle, a man that we didn’t know said that he was willing to pay the rent for mum! The rent was given to us for two years. To our amazement, this place became our home for the next 20 years.
Mum was a teacher and she earned about 120NZD a month. Some days we didn’t have anything to eat except peanuts and cassava root. Sometimes it was just a papaya. We had a lot of days like that where we were really short of anything much to eat. It was extremely difficult.
We continued to face a lot of problems regarding the house. In 1992, the government decided that every family who had been living in a government house for more than 10 years had to leave within 2 days. They came to our place with whips and they said that unless all our stuff was out by the next day, they would kick us out and whip us.
We prayed and the day after, no one from the government came to our home. In fact later we received a letter from the government saying that we were allowed to stay for the next 10 years!
1994 was a very difficult year. One of my sisters in Cote d’Ivoire, my brother Christian who was in France and a nephew in the Congo, all became seriously sick.Christian had an 8 hour operation and was eventually okay. However, the doctor said that my nephew would not live more than 2 days. He was proved wrong as a day later my nephew was healed. Sadly though, my sister died. She was 30 years old, and her death was the most painful thing my mother had been through.
I’m not going to give more detail about the war in the Congo, but many of my friends were killed because they were over 15 years of age and were from the south.I’m always wondering why I am still alive while many of my friends were slain?
The war stopped in 1998 after 5 years, though even now many places are still not safe. By this stage, Mum’s health was getting worse and worse so my brother living in France decided to apply for her to go to France where he knew she would get better health care. However, in 1999 my mother’s visa application was declined without reason by the French embassy. In 2000 we tried again with the same result.
Many people from church started blaming us, saying that God was not opening the door to France was that we were disobeying God or had some sins we had notconfessed. At the same time, mum’s passport went missing. We were quite confused and started believing what people were saying about mum’s trip to France.
After a year later, in 200, someone found mum’s passport on the street – just lying on the ground. He took it, checked the name and address and returned it to my mother. We were so amazed by that.
So once again, my sister who was living in France told Mum to resend all the documents for another try at getting into France.
We applied for a loan from the government to pay for Mum’s many costs but when we applied for the visa, the guy at the France embassy recognized us and told us we were wasting our time. He said, “This woman is never going to get a Visa. We don’t care if you are sick or not, or whether you are going to die or not, but if you have enough money to waste, then give us your application and keep on hoping.”
When applying for a visa, the France Embassy usually gave an answer within 2 days but for mum, it took one month. In fact after a month had passed, my sistercontacted them to ask what was going on and the guy said, “We are sorry. We forgot to call you. The visa is ready!”
A week after Mum arrived in France, she went to the hospital. It was so expensive and my brothers to her that they didn’t know what to do because even with the money loaned from the Congo government, there was not enough to cover all the health costs.
Amazingly though, in 2001 the French government had voted in a new law saying that all people living in France (residents or non-resident) who were 50 years or older, now had free health care. All costs would now be paid by the government. This was a miracle for us!
Now we could see that the delays in mum getting to France were not about sin or other things. God knew what was the right time for mum to arrive in France andsuddenly we could see the reason for the postponements.
Since arriving in France, all my mother’s health care has been free of charge.
I have a lot more I could say about my family, but I don’t have enough time this morning.
I want to say though, that God knows what we are facing, and he is always going to respond to our needs in some way.
Even in my sister’s death, and my nephew’s healing, God was there. God is always there.