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Two Earlier Updates
On July 13, 2008, the night guard of Melinda's close friend in Entebbe was at his own home when a lady living in the same group of homes heard a small noise coming from the pit latrine (outhouse). The lady went to investigate. With a flashlight, she looked down the hole and found an infant girl (umbilical cord and placenta still attached) somehow still alive. She ran to the local police post and got a policeman to break the concrete pad a bit wider so they could send another policeman down with a rope to bring the baby back to the surface. They rescued a little girl who was 2 to 3 hours old.
Melinda's friend took the child to a doctor, and they immediately put her on antibiotics. The Ugandan lady who found her wanted to keep her; but her husband returned (from having gone into hiding due to being accused of rape, not affiliated with this baby) and insisted that she get rid of the little girl since it is not his. The Ugandan lady (having lost her job) knew that if she tried to keep the baby, she ran a very real risk of being chased away with the baby, thus being separated from her other children.
Though such things occur in Uganda, this little one really burdened Melinda's and Steve's hearts. They began praying. The burden turned to love. On August 22, 2008, they met and welcomed Hannah Grace into their loving care. On July 28, 2009, they were awarded legal guardianship of Hannah Grace; and they continue to work through the process toward adoption.
Steve and Melinda and their daughters, Sophia and Madeline, moved to Uganda in 2005. In 2006, they welcomed another daughter, Janet, to their family. Janet is a little girl whom Steve met on an eMi trip. At the time Steve met Janet, she was very ill with full-blown AIDS. This was Steve’s touching ministry update at the time he met Janet:
"While at the babies home (YWAM), I met a little girl who was 3½ years old named Janet. She has full blown AIDS and is very sick. She had never taken her first steps. She is beautiful. When I first tried to pick her up, she was afraid of me and cried so the caretakers moved her so she could calm down. Crying is very energy-depleting for her.
"Then after holding [another little girl, Ruth] for about a half an hour, I looked down and there was Janet at my feet. From there I offered her my hand and she pulled up to stand (this she had done before). Soon after I picked her up and held her, she laid her head against my chest to rest and was loved. This little baby was so sick and in so much pain. She was desperate to have me hold her.
"She speaks very little tribal and NO English. Soon she pointed to the kitchen; she wanted food and water. So I set her down, held her hand, and we walked to the kitchen together to retrieve some bread and water. After returning to the porch, I let go of her hand and she stood on her own; first time ever. Then for some strange reason I told her in English that Jesus wanted her to walk today. I sat down several steps away and after staring at me for a few moments she took her first steps (6 total). I picked her up, kissed her and then held her against my chest for another hour. Understandably she never smiled ... it isn't in her. But her ear pressed against my chest and I hope she could hear the eternal heartbeat of Jesus ... not mine.
"But then I had to leave to walk to the bus stop (30-minute walk). I took her to the side and asked God to give her His promised reward and take her home soon. When she dies, a part of me will indeed die with her. I never wanted to let go... but I did. As I stepped back she began to cry. Out the gate we went and I could still hear her screaming from a few hundred feet down the road.
"I am back in Kampala and my heart, mind and soul can still see her walk, hug and cry. All she wanted was to be held by someone who truly loves her. The staff is doing great with the numbers they have, but they are still not enough. Janet was so sick and just wanted to be held. Once again my heart is broken. I just do not know what to do. I want to bring her home to Kampala so that she may die in loving arms, but I do not want to feel the pain when she dies ... I am selfish."
After much prayer and contemplation, Steve and Melinda began the process of adopting Janet. They began fostering her at the end of 2006; became her legal guardians in the Spring of 2009; then officially adopted her in July of 2011. Praise God for His faithfulness throughout the long adoption process!
By the grace of God and through His miraculous healing hand, Janet’s health improved from full-blown AIDS to HIV status. Looking at "then-and-now" photos of Janet, you wouldn’t even recognize her as the same child. It is nothing less than a miracle.