Don’t you see? We were created to be so much more than we can ever think or imagine. So much more than the world tells us. Can money help? Yes, if used with the right direction. Can fame help? Absolutely, if used with the right discretion. Money and fame are not evil; it is the motives of the heart once it is received. The Bible aptly warns us, “Pride goes before the fall.” You don’t have pride if you know the source of your money and fame. It is when the money and fame are attributed to the person not the source of the person.
Your money helped to make my homegoing appropriate for this side of heaven even though I had long been received on the other side. Christ doesn’t care about pomp and circumstance. If He did, then He wouldn’t have died on a cross. He was and is the King yet He died a lowly death. This proves what He came for and why Harvest of Hope Africa and Deedra Shilliday Ministries do what they do. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He sought out the most vulnerable and He cared for them. That is what we are all called to do. You don’t have to come to Africa, but you are always welcome! Reach your neighbors, your coworkers, your friends. Jesus is Alive and He wants to change lives just like He changed mine. Even if it was for a short time, my life mattered. All lives matter!
Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.
Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey
If you understand that we are only passengers through this land called earth and headed to a destination that is really our home, then you can grapple with suffering and hardship and surrender to the greater plan of the Master. Oh, I understand that some of you might say, that is a fairy tale mentality, Deedra. With the utmost kindness, I would refute, “When have you ever known me to have my head in the clouds?”
I have suffered enough to know that God is real. He was with me as an abused child. He was alongside me as a spiritually-manipulated teen. He was beside me through all my miscarriages as I longed to be a mother. The list could go on, but I think you get the point. God is not a mystical character in the sky. He is a loving and ever-patient Father who walks with us and waits for us to recognize He has been there the whole time.
Make no mistake-God was with Tobias at the beginning and He was with Tobias at the end. Tobias’ life has a purpose far beyond what any of us can imagine. It only makes sense in reverse. Some of you may understand this better in practical terms: Hindsight is 20/20. Just imagine if you could add the spiritual world to that! Your vision would be perfect!
Tobias Memorial Service
My family honored my life. Do you get the gravity of that? I had a family! A family who loved me, and not because I was perfect, not because I was cute (but, c’mon, did you see my cheeks?), not because my rescue in the bush was extraordinary. They loved me because I was created in the image of God. All of us are a reflection of Him, the Creator of the universe, whether we recognize it or not. Some of us just let the world and all it entails take over the image that was stamped on our heart. It was a seal that was intended to never be broken.
I am not a doll. I am a person. I was created in the image of God. I am and will always be a child of God.
The flight from Nairobi to London was longer than usual. I can never sleep on the flights, and that night was no different. All I could do is pray. Pray for Tobias to be healed. Pray for Phyllis and Dorothy to know that they are competent as our medical personnel. Pray for Mama Irene as she transported Toby to the nearest facility. Pray for my ministry partner, Fred, as we had just had a full week of ministry and had a list that still needed conquered.
As soon as the plane landed at Heathrow, I didn’t wait for the announcement; I turned on my phone with great expectation for a good report. This is what I read:
My heart sunk in my chest. The ‘bush baby’ who had defied so many odds couldn’t defeat malaria. MALARIA! I was angry that this disease is still ravaging lives across the world. I was disappointed that I didn’t pray for him at the clinic when he arrived with the others. I took for granted that he would beat it just like the others. I took for granted life! I was concerned for those traveling with me who had bonded with him during our trip. Yet, I was confident in a God that knows all and sees all. The Sovereign God whom I serve.
Since Tobias was an orphan and under our care, an autopsy needed to be done. It was confirmed that he passed away from malaria complications. The first death of child under Harvest of Hope Africa’s care. Tobias was a first! The first baby we rescued in the bush-literally! The first baby to appear so strong on the outside yet weak on the inside. The first baby for DSM’s blog. There has to be a reason for that. I never do anything without the Spirit’s prompting. The Tobias blog was started by the Holy Spirit’s nudging, who knew that I would be struggling to write as the tears ran down my face.
Again, I say to you, my God is Sovereign. Faith really does make THE difference!
But, before I get to that, let me tell you about “the girls” coming back to visit Under His Wings Babies Home. This time they came later so they could play with the primary children after school. Everyone was so happy!
I wasn’t feeling well so I went to Mount Hope Medical Clinic, a part of Harvest of Hope Africa. Our medical director, Phyllis, tested me for malaria. I, along with baby Angel and a few others, tested positive. Not the news we were hoping for even though most of my sick friends seem to be feeling better.
I am just having such a hard time breathing. I heard Angel and the others coughing all night but I can’t seem to do even that.
It is 11pm on Thursday, March 30th. Just a week after our last encounter. I am feeling so much worse. Phyllis and Dorothy are working hard to keep me comfortable and hydrated. Mama Deedra is informed right before she takes off back to America. I am being transported to the nearest hospital.
We finally met! This is Chelci, a missions-hearted friend, who named me. She calls me “Toe-by-is” but everyone in Kenya says, “Tob-e-us”. Tomato, tomaato! She was everything I imagined–caring, kind, and comfortable. I cuddled with her for hours!
Chelci, Annie, and Kimberly came with Mama Deedra this time. They brought toys for the bigger kids at Under His Wings Babies Home. And, guess what? They didn’t just give them to us; they stayed and played with everyone. It was a special visit even though some of my friends are sick with malaria. It is the rainy season, and those of us who haven’t developed an immunity often get sick. In fact, Rachel hasn’t gone to school all week. But, she seemed to feel lots better when our guests arrived. I think she was modeling the new clothes Chelci brought.
I hope they come back to visit before they go home!
Mama Irene took me to the hospital because I haven’t been breathing and eating quite right. While I have wanted to go to the capital city, this was not my plan to get there. Oh, but it was nice to spend quality time alone with just her. She is the best!
The doctors are puzzled by my case. It may be a reaction to the formula so they suggested I try camel, rice, or oat milk. I know this isn’t going to be easy to find. I hate that it will be an extra expense, but everyone says they will do whatever it takes to get me healthy.
Once Darius Philip came to the house they seemed to increase in their concern for me. I think it’s because I can’t stand or lift my head like him even though I am older. My legs look fine but I just am too weak. I think I am lacking the nutrients I need because I can’t keep the formula down.
My friends in the states are planning to bring me soy formula to see if that will work. They are coming in March and I can’t wait to see them! Until then I am doing my therapy exercises with the house moms. Everyone at Under His Wings Babies Home loves me so much!
Her name is mentioned all the time around here. “When is Deedra coming?” “I really miss Deedra.” “Has Deedra messaged lately?” All this talk about her, and you would have thought someone would have told me she was white! As you can see, I didn’t mind. I could tell she loved me even before we formally met. To be fair, she loves all the HOHA children and staff. As I said before, we are a family.
I love my big family. From the house moms to the older girls, everyone takes such good care of me. Grace is one of my favorites! In 2017, she was abandoned along with her sisters, Faith and Nduko. She was a little over a year old and was very sick. Grace is a miracle like me and when she smiles it lights up the room. I haven’t learned to smile yet but I keep trying. I know how blessed I am to be a part of the Harvest of Hope Africa family.
Pole! Pole! Pole! Those are the first words I ever heard. The rescuer was saying sorry because I had been discarded many hours ago. Yet, I had breath in my lungs and the capacity to cry out until I was found.
It was truly miraculous!
A miracle that I was found before being eaten by an animal.
A miracle that I didn’t die from an infection due to the dried grass and dirt around my umbilical cord.
A miracle that I didn’t freeze to death in the cool morning hours.
A miracle that my weak little voice was heard by a passerby.