Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Book

One Saturday morning in 2004, I woke up early (around 5am) with my mind racing about an idea I had for writing a book. I laid there for about a half hour while I planned the book out in my mind, before finally getting up and typing out a brief outline on the computer. When Alisha got up, we discussed it and began the process of developing it further. Now, nearly 6 years later, the book that I awoke with in my mind and we worked out together over many hours, days, weeks, months and years is finally published!
The book is titled: 'The First Steps, A Parent's Guide to Fighting Autism". Obviously, this directly relates to our own journey with helping our son Brodie battle this disorder. But beyond that, it's a guide for other parents who are in a similar boat - in particular, those that are new to autism and don't know what steps to take to help their child. We wrote this to be a very practical, easy to read book that gives very specific things you can do to reorient your life and home to give your child the best possible chance for recovery.
We feel so blessed by our son Brodie, though the battle has been and is a long and oftentimes difficult one. But the remarkable improvements he made, especially early on, set the ground work for his leading virtually a normal life at this point. Autism will never leave Brodie, but he is getting better and better at overcoming the disorder on a daily, sometimes hourly, and often moment by moment basis. He has taught us a lot, and we still have a ton to learn.
If you know of someone who has recently found out their child has autism, or if you know of someone who is suspecting their child may have autism, or if like us, you recognize that there is something different about your child but you just can't figure out what it is - we wrote this book for you and hope it will be a great help and blessing to you, your family, and your special needs child.
You can order it on Amazon.com, amongst other places. Just search under Amazon books for 'The First Steps Crawford" and it should be the first book to come up. Alternatively, we have a link on the right hand side of our blog that takes you to the page.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gabriel

About 3 weeks ago, our house-helper Monica started talking about a man she kept seeing off the side of the road (near the rock quarry, for those of you who have been here) each day when she passed by on her way home from work. The man caught her eye because he was fairly old for a Ugandan, possibly late 60’s, and yet he didn’t seem to have a home or anything to do. It’s not terribly uncommon to see homeless people here – you can spot them fairly easily. But this man was different. He didn’t look filthy or mentally ill, though he did look like he wasn’t completely healthy.
For about a week, as Monica passed by, she felt like God was asking her to give away an athletic shirt that Alisha had given her. So, one afternoon she decided to bring the shirt along with her to give to the man. When she did, she realized that he was from another part of the country since he didn’t speak Luganda. He also didn’t speak English, so one of the quarry workers had to translate.
The man’s name was Gabriel, and he was in fact, homeless. He had constructed a small cover under a short tree right next to the quarry where he had been staying for some time. He used to work at the quarry, but he lost his job awhile back (presumably because of his age and inability to work hard enough). Now, he was sick, had no family, and wanted to return to his home village in Eastern Uganda, where he hadn’t been for over 40 years.
Monica came and shared her burden for this man during our morning prayer time at eMi. The first couple of days or so, I think we were all caught up in the numbness of hearing these tragic stories all the time – or at least that’s how I felt. But after a few days, I began to feel that we had a responsibility to this man now since we had the means to help him. And since Monica, who is not exactly wealthy by any stretch, and in fact would probably herself be the subject of such a story if her life were observed by a passerby in America, felt compelled to help this man we really owed it to her to be a part of equipping and supporting her in her plight to help him.
So we decided to pass around an envelope at eMi to get some funds to first get him medical treatment and then get him home (we do this at times when there is a financial need so that people can give anonymously). We collected about 180,000 Ugandan shillings that day, or about $90 USD. The next day, our office manager Semei and head of human resources Stephen, went and picked Gabriel up and took him to the clinic. They spent about 6 hours there with him as every common test was run on him – fortunately all coming back negative. They treated him for a chest infection, and gave him two full drip bags as he was extremely dehydrated. In all, his treatment and testing took about a week to get him back to feeling normal. During this time, each day Monica would drop him by some food from our house, or if we didn’t have much for him we’d give him some of the money for him to buy food.
Finally, after about a week he felt that he was ok to travel home, so last Friday morning Semei picked him up, took him by our house to shower in our guard’s quarters, and drove him downtown where he got on the bus to head home to his village. He was a little nervous since he didn’t know anyone, but we gave him 50,000ugx to help get him settled there. Our local staff seemed convinced that even though it had been that long, his tribe back home would remember him and take him in without a problem.
Monica was so happy – she felt as if God had truly blessed her to be able to help this man. For all of us, it was humbling to be led into this by a person who herself has very little. But in the end, we too felt glad to have been used by God to help Monica bless this man – probably saving his life and certainly making what years he has left here more enjoyable.
I shouldn’t forget the most important detail, that on day 3 of talking with Gabriel Monica prayed with him and he became a Christian. She said from that day forward he was a different person to talk to – much more upbeat and happy.
This experience was a humbling one, as it was amazing to us that Monica had such a heart for this man – even though she is not all that far above him on the poverty scale. But it taught us that everyone can do something, and that everyone has different roles in God’s kingdom work. Romans 12 talks about how each person doesn’t have to do everything, but rather we should focus on what our role is and do it to the best of our ability. I’m reminded of our situation - not everyone can move to Uganda or work for eMi, but everyone can play a part in the work God’s doing in Uganda or through eMi. The people who support us financially to be here are every bit as critical to the work eMi does as the architects and engineers who do the work. The people who can’t give but pray for us also have an important role, and the ‘team’ which we’re all on would suffer mightily if they didn’t do their part. In the case of Gabriel, Monica was the eyes and ears, and the rest of us at eMi East Africa provided the financial backing that allowed her to carry out the work God laid on her heart. What a privilege it was to be a small part of it – if I’m to be honest, I think I would much prefer to be on the ‘financial’ team than the one receiving the money! But God picks the teams and assigns the duties, so it’s not up to us to wish for a different role. In the end, I’m just thankful he picked us at all!