Need a Dad




Rebecca Nakanjako was recently guest speaker at Christian Center School in Hayden. Rebecca was orphaned in Uganda at a young age, losing both parents to AIDs. She is currently attending North Idaho College with the hope of becoming a nurse and returning to her country where medical services are so desperately needed. She arrived in the U.S. about two months ago and resides with Brian and Maren Snyders, who travelled to Uganda last May with their family to work with a medical missions team in the Jinja area. Brian is a physician at Prairie Family Medicine in Hayden. Maren spoke about their experiences in Uganda, and Rebecca shared the moving story of her life of poverty and despair, and how an encounter in a shop in Kampala changed everything. This is Rebeccaís story.
ďI am here for the very first time out of Uganda. Uganda is very hot so I need many jackets here. The reason that I am here is to become a nurse. The nurse that I really want to be is the person the God can use to touch other peopleís lives. The desire for becoming a nurse started a long time ago. Itís where my story begins.
I grew up seeing people who were suffering from HIV. I studied about it in school, I knew its symptoms and signs and how it affected people by the time they died, so I hated it. I was told my parents died of HIV. My dad died when I was 2 Ĺ and my mom died 3 years later. I donít have any pictures of my biological parents. I started thinking how can I help. I wished these things would not happen.
My parents died at a very young age. My dad was 30 years old and my mom died when she was 26. Many people die in Uganda and donít even make 50 years old. I had the fear that I donít want to be sick. I didnít want to get married and have kids because then you die and leave them, and they turn out to be like me.
I lived in many homes with my relatives. They would not treat me the same way they would treat their own kids. Before I was 18 years I ran away. I moved to the capital (Kampala). It was 4 hours away from my home. There were not many good jobs because I had just graduated from high school. It means something different if you donít have papers to show to get a nice job. I worked in restaurants as a waitress and I happened to work in bars where they sell alcohol and food. This was not the place I wanted to be. I donít want to wait wine and alcohol so I asked God to provide me with a place where I could just be behind the counter and not be touched by drunkards and all that.
Being a girl, these people want to take advantage of you. And once they know you are just surviving, they treat you any way they want. So I told (the owner) that I was leaving but I didnít know where I was going. I didnít have a house yet or a room to stay. I didnít have anyone in Kampala. I did have a few friends but they were also surviving. I could not stay to them. So I left the job and I got the little money that I had and I looked for a house.
I got a house. I didnít have a mattress, I didnít have anything. I looked for 4 days and got another job and I started working. But it was not easy. They were only giving me $60 a month, no food, no transport. My rent was $40 a month. I would walk miles and miles from my place of work to where I stayed. But all of that was fine because I thought, no one is going to make me work from morning to night, no one is going to abuse me, no one is going to call me names, call me an orphan. No one is going to think you donít have a parent so they can do whatever they want. I was comfortable in the small room that I had. Sometimes it would rain and it would leak and everything I had would get wet. But I was still happy, it was ok.
I wish that I had a foundation where I knew Christ, where I knew the love of God and how He cares about me. But I am happy that with everything that happened to me, all that I encountered, God was there. God was the voice that was calling me and I believe He was the One who was leading me. I have two biological sisters and a brother, but we did not grow up together. When our dad died they separated us. I have only seen them a few times my entire life. I know that God has His reasons as to why He made us that way and why He chose that path. And with His great plans I never dreamed of being in this place. It never crossed my mind until when Paul and Pam came at my place of work.
Paul and another person who were working in a home for street children came to the store I was working. I was there, as I was working 7 days a week. As he entered he talked to everyone. He doesnít care whether you like him or you donít. He started speaking the few Ugandan words he knew. My friend just started laughing but for me I didnít find anything funny about what he is saying. I was just in the corner very quiet, very serious with my job.
I never listened to what he had to say until he turned and came across to me. He said, ĎAre you wounded? Who wounded you? Why are you sad? You have to tell me.í But all I could think to say was, ĎI am fine, I am happyí. But I wasnít happy. I didnít want to talk to him. I didnít want to answer his questions, but he kept on pushing me and asking me who wounded me. And that question really was making me remember all the hard times that I had been through, all the beatings, all the bad words, all of the voices that I had listened to.
He said, ĎI wish I was your dad because I know of someone who can heal all of these wounds and this sad faceí. When I heard someone say I wish I was your dad, it was too big for me, because no one has ever wished to have me as their child. So the tears started coming to my eyes and I didnít want my bosses to see that I was crying. We were not allowed to talk to customers and I didnít want to show this stranger that what he was saying was true. Because the tears had come out and I couldnít do anything about it, I just ran from him. I ran down the street, so he never understood why and what he had said.
He asked my friend what he had said. He said if he has done something wrong he would come back to ask forgiveness. I later told my friend I donít ever want to see that man again. I was very angry that he made me think of these things that I am trying to forget. I was taking care of myself and I was feeling like I am good for nothing, no one wants me. Here was someone who said he cares for you. One of the things he said to me was this is not your destiny. In my head I am saying what is he talking about? He doesnít know where I come from, he doesnít know anything about me, how could he say that this is not your destiny?
I know that it was true. It was God saying he doesnít see me as this person who is dirty, who is good for nothing, who is feeling all these things. Who is cold, an orphan, who is wishing those two people who died from HIV were still alive. So it was hard for me to hear him say that he wishes he was my dad and (it was) funny enough that he was a white person, so this cannot even happen. So when he said all those things I didnít say anything because I thought even if I say to him whatís in my heart, he will go back to America. I didnít even know where America is and I will never see him again. I thought about it when I went back to my room and I sat and thought about this over and over again. Then I felt good. I was crying. I was feeling so good. I was feeling someone has said they wished I was their child.
He came back two weeks later with his wife and he found me in the same spot that he had found me before. And I was very quiet. He wanted to know why I cried when he talked to me last time. He thought I didnít know English so he had the taxi driver translate to me. But I understood. I just didnít want to talk. I told him he made me cry because he said he wanted to be my dad and I couldnít believe it. It made him cry to know that I wanted to be called someoneís child, a person that belonged to someone.
I wished that I knew who I am in Christ. I wished that I had known what I know now. He created everything and He created me. I wish I had known how to ask him to lead me. But I am grateful for that I had His small voices talking to me. And that now I know Him.Ē
Paul and Pam, missionaries sent out from Portland, Oregon, adopted Rebecca and have now sent her to North Idaho to continue her education while residing with their friends, the Snyders.