Never in a million years.

I had dreamed it perhaps, twirled the thought around between fingers perhaps, but never in a million years, did I expect what happened.

I wasn’t even sure if all the seats would be filled. So when I returned to see a line spilling out into the hallways, when I saw extra chairs being moved into the hall, I thought another event might have been going on.

Never did I dream there’d come a day where security guards and fire marshals had to lock the doors of a hall because it was at full capacity.

Never in a million years did I dare expect to be speaking at the largest function hall at Hopkins on Sarah-Faith’s first birthday, launching our first social venture.

It all happened because of a series of miraculous events, catalyzed by prayer, and fueled by the love of a community, at Hopkins and around the world, who gave us a chance to dream.

I confess, I had dreamed a little dream, prayed a little wish several months ago- that with people whom we loved and who loved us, we could celebrate these two milestones together.

As I walked down the filled hall with Sarah-Faith on my arm and took the crowd in, I stood in awe, at how that little wish which found its shaky confidence only in the walls of a tiny classroom with homemade cupcakes had grown into what it had become.

The wide hall, the banquet seating arrangements, the video-recording crew, food, decorations, flowers, cake… all would have cost thousands of dollars in total.

Yet, through the generous love of faculty, friends and anonymous donors (I still don’t know who they are), this had all been sponsored, this was all happening.

The previous day’s event had the tables and chairs in the format I could only dream about, and so we avoided the set-up cost which would cost hundreds of dollars. The hall had actually already been booked for another event that evening and the facility supervisor said “I don’t do double bookings for this venue usually” but said she would make an exception for us. A large school-wide biostatistics concentration meeting was supposedly scheduled for the same time but my professors announced it would be cancelled for our event. Someone offered to video-record my talk without charge- “I’ll edit it for you for free too, because when I bless you, I feel I’m blessing the people who are blessed by your work too.”

It was as if an entire community stopped time for a moment for us. It was as if God had had it all planned, all before I even knew it would come to be.

Entitled “A Chance to Dream,” the day mirrored the theme of my talk as I talked about Kitesong, in that it reminded me, who are we to despise the day of small beginnings?

“Our dreams, no matter how small, can sometimes have unimaginable endings.”

I was nervous. With my personal faith being so entwined to my journey in global health, I wasn’t sure how people would respond. I was also speaking to a hall of some of the most distinguished people I respected and admired, some of the world’s top leaders, in the present day and future- why should they have anything to learn from me? What could I say that they didn’t already know? Worse, I was nervous that the books on Amazon had all been sold out and couldn’t be restocked in time for the event. What would they think?

But never in a million years, did I expect the outcome.

” I cried about five times.”
” It was so moving, my entire table teared.”
“You gave me chills as you spoke.”

As a way of thanking everyone at school for being such a family to us, for welcoming Sarah-Faith and I into lectures and seminars every day, for believing in me as a mother and student- that I could have the same opportunities as everyone else and not less, I decided to give away 100 copies of the limited edition first print of my 4 titles.

Even then, we were out-blessed.

” When will you release the video-recording?”
” Security wouldn’t let us in- you need to prepare for an overflow room next time. Would you give this talk again?”
” When will the books be out?”

Once upon a time, I had shared, publishers told me the books would never find a market because the books were too poignant to be children’s books and too guileless to be adult books. They were right.

And yet here was there an entire hall of people who overwhelmed us with their love and support to make this social venture even possible.

Such is the testament of the loving kindness of this family at Hopkins. What was supposed to be my way of thanking everyone for the support and love they had given us at school, became yet another avalanche of love and blessing from the community.

Cake on a cart for Sarah-Faith. A thousand candles that couldn’t be blown out by Mama. A handmade kite with everyone’s signature on it. A bouquet from Cliff. Cards, lots of cards. Gifts, lots of gifts. Hugs. Kisses. Book-signing.

Today, Kitesong Global is being set up as an international non-profit social venture that uses the power of narrative through the 4 picture books to catalyze change and transform communities- through education, advocacy, fundraising or otherwise, by uplifting the poor and promoting social justice.

Sarah-Faith, Mama decided to launch Kitesong Global on your birthday as a gift for you, because I want you to know that you, too, can dream big dreams. But they all happen when we first give the littlest of our littlest dreams to God. He’s the one who makes things grow.

As shared in my talk, the world often tells us that there’s no dream too big- but may I challenge us to consider, that perhaps, there’s no dream to small?

When the world said no, thank you for saying yes.

Because of you, Kitesong Global and Sarah-Faith and what and who they are today. Thank you for giving us a chance to dream.

On behalf of Sarah-Faith and Cliff, thank you for being a family to us. Thank you, to our friends all around the world too, for journeying with us all this while.

As shared in my talk, my prayer is that each of you would be set free to dream, and be free to set a million other kitesongs free.

Happy 1st Birthday, Sarah-Faith. Mama loves you.

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Waiting to start…

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Sharing my heart

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The Surprise Cakes from my Program Director

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A special kite made by my classmates for Sarah-Faith

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Surprise!

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So many candles!

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Saying Thank You

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My sweet professors, and Cliff’s sweet bouquet

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Book-signing with Sarah-Faith 

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100 books were given out as our way of saying Thank You

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Gifts and notes for Sarah-Faith

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This sweet child

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A Day to Remember

“Do not despise these small beginnings,

for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”

-Zech 4:10

What started out as a little wish to celebrate Sarah-Faith’s first birthday in a little classroom at school with a small group of friends has gone beyond my wildest expectations.

The school program office ended up booking the largest function hall at Hopkins, professors cancelled a concentration meeting, and just last week, as I was making enquiries on catering to buy lunch as a way of thanking everyone for their love & support… my program director informed me that some anonymous donors had stepped in to sponsor the entire event, including lunch and cake for 200 people.

I’ll be giving a short talk on the intersection of publishing, philanthropy and global health, and launching Kitesong as a global social venture. If you’d like to come and enjoy lunch & cake on the house, feel free to join us tomorrow.

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“You have no idea what you’ll be doing?”

“To be honest, no,” I replied.

“But you always plan. Obviously you planned not to plan this time,” my husband said with a smile.

Six hours later on our first flight as a family of three, we arrived at my internship at IRIS Global, not knowing what to expect.

Months ago, frantically knocking on several doors searching for a practicum and internship opportunity for my Masters In Public Health program, I desperately wanted to embark on a research project of Significance. Little did I know that after a convoluted journey, God would lead me back to the start to start a social venture with Kitesong and the other picture books I had published over the years.

People had told me this was a mistake. That as a new mother and student, starting a social venture was too much and bordering on being irresponsible. They said doing something “serious” like a research project would have been much better than starting this nebulous entity, or traipsing across America with my husband and trooper baby in tow, not knowing exactly what it was I would be learning.

I don’t blame them. I felt the same too.

When I submitted my application, I knew my chances were slim. After all, starting a social venture for a practicum was very, very unusual. And in the public health world, my desired internship organization (IRIS Global) was no Gates or Rockefeller Foundation. Yet, I felt I had far more to learn from them, having been inspired by their Founder Heidi Baker several years ago, a woman who had and continues to lay her life down to serve the poorest of the poor in Africa.

Little did I expect Hopkins to sponsor our trip on the Field Experience Award. Little did I expect to arrive at a time where all the senior staff and board members around the world would fly in to discuss their major plans for the year ahead. Little did I expect to meet the Founder, Heidi, herself, a woman who lives in Mozambique serving orphans and vulnerable women, whom many and I had only seen and heard and been moved by from afar.

There she was.

If there ever was a fan-girl, starstruck moment, I would have botched it. Because so overwhelmed was I when she gave me a hug that all I could say was, “This is so surreal.”

So overwhelmed was I when she asked me to sit down with her when so many others were needing her attention. I spoke, and she listened as if no one else existed. Just as how she always spoke of “stopping for the one” in need, she stopped for me.

“I want your books translated into Portuguese for all our schools and children centers in Africa.”

I was shocked. Did she know, that after the longest silence, in a tidal wave of beautiful miracles, God had moved people all over the world to contact me regarding translations for the books in the last one month. First, East Timorese, then Japanese, then Mandarin. On the first day of my internship, an American lady texted me to say, “God impressed upon my heart to translate your books into Spanish for the Latino population. Would you let me?”

But I had no idea how to move forward, how to build a team. “I am no entrepreneur. How do I even begin to lead?” I asked God.

All I knew was that after a series of closed doors, several ones opened, and God had led us thus far. I just had to keep trusting that He knew even when I did not.

I arrived on the first day finding myself with the staff team undergoing a Life Language training, one of the most enlightening leadership and relationship profiles and trainings I’ve ever done.

“You are a Mover. Movers are entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.”

I nearly laughed out loud, seeing how that was exactly what I told God I was not, just the day before. Yet, in divine candor, it was the encouragement I needed.

The next day, a world-class trainer flew in for free to conduct a leadership training for the team.

Building a Team. Casting your vision. Setting your goals.

I had arrived not knowing what to expect, wondering if this all had been a mistake, but God had my itinerary all planned.

The director told me, “We’ve never had such trainings back-to-back with board meetings and conferences- it’s like God WANTED you here with us at this time. And there were no other dates you could come- Incredible!”

It made me wonder, that perhaps, all He expects of us is to trust and obey. Unlike what we think, we need not always have plans made and all our steps laid out. We need not always have all the qualifications before we answer a call.

The little we have, even when we feel like we have nothing, He can take and multiply.

Just as all this was going on, another lady, who was a blog-reader-turned-friend, contacted me long-distance to say she felt God wanting her to take the step of courage to journey alongside me and help be part of Kitesong, to use its stories to impact communities.

When I shared with her the vision God had laid on my heart regarding the books traveling to different nations reaching people of different tongues, and how uncanny it was that the very first team member He had sent to encourage me with was a blog reader who is a linguist, the phone went quiet when she replied, “There are tears in my eyes as you share this. For so many years I’ve asked God why- but I’m a linguist too.”

I thought about the many nights of tears as I struggled with not knowing what to do, wondering if I had wasted coming to Hopkins. I questioned why God would make such an uneconomical choice in sending me all the way here just to start Kitesong. I pondered upon my initial worries about traveling with a baby, and how much of a trooper Sarah-Faith turned out to be, winning compliments on the long flights and surviving the long road trips, with Cliff being a champion of a Dad and husband planning everything to a tee.

But I am learning, that He knows the end better than us, and that truly, closed doors do not mean His rejection. God’s silence do not equate to His neglect. Rather, very often, they are exactly His way of speaking to us, directing us, guiding us.

And if we will choose to see things that way, how joyful will we be to luxuriate in the knowing that He was there with us all this while, and will be till the very end.

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“Wow,” our guest marveled. “Just one look, that’s all she needed.”

It was true.

Amidst cleaning, cooking and hosting our guests over the busy end-of-year season, our baby Sarah-Faith’s curious eyes would roam the world but always returned to the same place. Just one look from Mama, and her eyes and smile would pop the room up with a thousand lights and a squeal of fireworks.

It reminded me, that I didn’t need to strive more to do better to be her Mama. I already was, and all I needed, was not to cook more, clean more, buy more, but just to stop, wait and watch the world go by as peals of her laughter bounced down the hallway like rainbow-colored balloons.

Doing less, is so often, doing more.

During my Masters program, I often got asked, “How do you do this- be a mom and study? This program is crazy.”

A friend told me, “Sabbath is impossible here. Rest a day, and the snowball effect of work just kills ya.”

Not wanting to be left behind, I too had raced to the rhythm of that frantic beat.

When I first felt called to start a social venture to help those in need, the whirlwind of work intensified: I knocked on doors between lectures, carried my baby in and out of seminars, nursed her in office and restrooms, listened to audios while cooking, pumping and cleaning. Life was filled to the brim.

Yet, as time passed, I realized I was walking in circles. Amidst the maddening mayhem, I had no idea what the social venture stood for, what its goals or my vision was.

One afternoon, from sheer exhaustion, my husband found me in tears of discouragement.

“It’s no use,” I said. “It’s all been a mistake.”

That weekend, while listening to a sermon about the Tower of Babel, God gripped me like a fierce hug and caught my attention. I realized, that like the people building the tower which crumbled, I too had been building my own tower based on self-striving. At the end of the sermon, a bizarre event happened- as the message described the Day of Pentecost as an event of restoration, I saw a vision of the books traveling to different parts of the world, to people of different tongues.

I almost said aloud, “How can this be? The books are in English.”

But something in me changed that day. I stopped striving, running, being busy. Instead of working through weekends trying to set up the social venture and staying on top of my work, I started spending an entire full day a week in prayer instead.

It didn’t make sense, there was so much to do. But I knew it was the change I needed.

It reminded me of Labor- that the closer I got to actually delivering Sarah-Faith into the world, the less fanfare there was. In the preceding ten months, I had exercised, seen doctors, done tests, and at the last stretch, there I was on my hands and knees, single minded and focused in prayer, on the one thing that had to be done.

There was no flailing, no fancy drugs, no equipment at our home birth. From a posture of rest, came the most miraculous event of all.

Doing less, can be so much more.

Since then, doing less, a wave of events have happened. A few days later, a stranger who lived ten thousand miles from me wrote to me to say she had, for years, been wanting to translate my books but could not find the courage to contact me. That weekend, she said God gave her a burden so heavy that she had no choice but to write to me, and offered to translate my books into Japanese and Tetum (the language of East Timor where the tsunami devastated thousands), to bless those who were in need. Just like in the vision.

Sundays in prayer, became a necessity.

More happened in the following weeks than all of the preceding months.

A week later, two other people voluntarily offered to translate my books into mandarin. I declined at first, explaining that my publisher had declined before. But they persisted.

In a strange irresistible momentum of events, my publisher contacted me one morning, and said, “Our publishing house in China is very interested. Send me the translations and we’ll get this done. Also your Japanese and Tetum translations, and a few other languages.”

Part of me used to scoff when people told me, that prayer is the work. It sounded cliched, but now, it became reality.

I prayed for help- a team to start Kitesong Global as a ministry, and specifically for a millennial to help me with a website.

Two weeks later, a Singaporean man I was connected to in Baltimore met me for lunch. I had expected a middle aged uncle sort of figure. Instead, he turned out to be a 24-year old arts student, who then told me directly, “I saw your website. I’m a graphic designer. I feel God led me to you because He wants me to do your website for you. I won’t charge you a cent. I’ve been wanting to do something meaningful like this for a long time.”

That very afternoon, a serendipitous bump along the corridor with a stranger at school turned into an unexpected opportunity. Approaching me, he said, “Your classmate told me about what you’re doing- I want to record your story, I’m a videographer. Can I help?”

I was speechless.

That same week, I had been praying for an opportunity to launch Kitesong as a venture while celebrating Sarah-Faith’s birthday but had little idea how to make it happen. I asked my program director if perhaps I could do a personal sharing in a small classroom. The next day, I was informed by the program office’s staff that instead of a small classroom, they had booked … the largest function hall at school and had emailed other committees not to organize any other clashing events- they wanted it to be an official school-wide event.

Within a few weeks, God had provided everything for His purposes, once I had let go to let Him. What is impossible to man, becomes possible when we stop intervening with God’s timing and ways.

As the last year came to a close, I began to ponder upon the gift of restedness and the simplicity of being present that God truly intends for each of us.

And as I did, I saw Sarah-Faith crawling out of the kitchen squealing with incandescent delight- for in her hand, was her great prize: a bulb of garlic. So thrilled was she with her bulb that she clutched it everywhere she went, showing her newly budded pearly whites at her new prize.

But how that smile burst into fireworks when she caught my glance.

Truly, what a child needs isn’t fancier toys, electronic gadgets or expensive daycare programs. All she needed was my simple, inexpensive presence, a love-filled, present-moment look, a warm and enveloping hug.

Our simple presence and trusting faith are what delights not only our children, but our Father too.

Doing less, truly is doing more.

So as we cross into another year and give thanks to God for all He has done in 2017, let us remember these gems of greater simplicity, simpler faith and faithful trust.

For truly, prayer is the work that we all want done. It is the work and so much more.

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As some of you may know, Grandpa Zhou was an elderly, angry busker with cerebral palsy playing the harmonica by the dirty train steps when I first met him 8 years ago in Singapore.

His life changed drastically when he caught a glimpse of God’s love. Through journeying with him, we’ve always kept in touch- even while we were in Uganda and Canada, as passersby and friends would update us and him through our blog and spontaneous Whatsapp calls.

More than a month ago, he went missing. Nobody knew what had happened. We kept praying. I expected the worst and yet hoped that somehow, he was well.

Today, I found out that he had injured his leg and is now warded at a rehabilitation hospital. Knowing him, I know he would so love to be visited, to have a listening ear, to have someone read the Bible in Mandarin or Cantonese to him. I know he would love for someone to listen to him play the harmonica again, to clap to his vintage tunes.

If you find time in yr busy schedule over the weekend and new year’s and would like to send him a word of comfort and give him much-needed company, please email me for more details and show him this photo.

Please let him know he is often on our hearts and in our prayers, and that we would love for him to hold Sarah-Faith (心恩) someday.

We miss you, Grandpa Zhou. 我们会一直为你祷告,你要坚强,好好康复。我们盼望着你抱心恩的那一天。上帝保佑你.

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Was walking out of a lift at Hopkins as I stepped into a crowded corridor, when a group of grad students stared at Sarah-Faith and collectively said “Byebye Baby!”

To which she lifted her arms and responded in turn, “BABAH!” (her new feat this week)

All the awwwws that followed gave me all the feels.

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Her growing in joy, expression and enthusiasm:

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And us catching the first snow on her first Christmas!

Blessed Christmas!

Wishing you all a Blessed Christmas (Sarah-Faith’s first!) from the Team Tam Trio.

“Rejoice, for unto us a child is born…

and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God,

the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

– Isaiah 9:6

People said I should celebrate. But really, I was petrified.

It was out there now, and it made me feel scared, vulnerable in some way.

What if no one noticed? What if no one read them? What if they were just… insignificant?

So when my publisher told me, “Your books are on Amazon now,” I felt a surreal sense of gratitude. Gratitude, from knowing how long this journey has been. But it also me made me scared.

Recently at Hopkins, my Program Director asked me to consider giving a talk on my experiences, at the intersection of art, philanthropy, and global health. Some friends egged me on, encouraging me to share it through a talk.

” Talk about- How do you write? How do you publish? What do you do?”

But I was dumbfounded- what would I say?

Of all the experiences I’ve had around the world, perhaps the closest analogy I’ve had to this journey has been carrying our baby to term.

All through those ten months, I had no part to play in her creation… her fingers like flower petals and hair like the rain, her toes like sweetpeas and her heart like the sea… and yet, when I delivered her, I claimed a preposterous amount of congratulatory wishes, as if I myself had performed the grand miracle of breathing divine life into being, a life of glorious creation which I had no part in, but merely to hold and carry and pray over faithfully, as a vessel.

Like all the dreams He gave to me, those that birthed into fruition, were those I carried… as I did Sarah-Faith.

I did not need to compete or contend, strive or strain. God gave the seed, I carried it through prayer, and the birth was the result of travail.

Would that be content for a talk perhaps? I wondered.

No one knows, that over the past 12 years, I was told repeatedly that people would not read these books: my publishers told me they were difficult to market- they looked like children books and yet were not. Commercial bookstores would not take them- they fit neither in the fiction nor non-fiction section, neither in the kids nor adult section.

They were right.

And still more people told me: You should market yourself. You should network. You should sell your products. You should do. Do more. Do, do, do.

Products? Since when were they “products”?

Just a little while ago, I lost myself momentarily, in between the clouds. Caught up in the glamour of big international partners related to Hopkins and mesmerized by the potential opportunities, I went with people who counseled me to dream big, think bigger. You did Kitesong. You can do it again- bigger this time.

I believed it.

I met someone whom I shared my journey on a personal, intimate level with. At the end of the conversation, he called me “fluffy.”

“You really should think about working in the UN and put your gifts to better use.”

That made me angry.

Still another said, “Setting up a social venture through your books to help the underprivileged is a really, really fluffy idea.”

I felt I had something to prove, that I was positively, absolutely, undeniably un-fluffy.

One day while listening to a message, about the story of the tower of Babel being built to the sky, God gripped my heart.

I realized, that all this while, while I was busy being angry and striving to feel and look and be and do something significant, I forgot what “Kitesong” really stood for.

Twelve years ago when “Kitesong” was first published and a $100,000 was raised to build a Children’s Home to change the lives of girls of a generation, I forgot, that it had nothing to do with my gifts or talents, but everything to do with an awkward, depressed 18-year old who did not know how to paint, who had no reason for anyone to believe in her dream, who had nothing but her hands and knees on the ground, and a tear-stained face, with tenuous faith in a God she was not even sure would hear her.

It was then that I decided to let go, and let my dream of Kitesong Ministries, a social venture to help the underprivileged, be His, not mine.

Just as how Sarah-Faith was never truly mine to begin with but God’s child for me to steward, I surrendered the dream.

Instead of striving and knocking on more doors, I decided to do the foolish thing- pray. Oswald Chambers once said, that prayer is the work, and I started to believe that again.

It was then that I heard God’s still small voice, that the books would go round the world in different languages.

I laughed out loud. How? All these months I had knocked on doors and strived and contended, strained and competed. No doors opened. I was at Hopkins- this was unbelieveable.

But I forgot, that perhaps, all that God requires is for us to be still, and simply, be the faithful vessel to carry His dreams to term, in His ways and in His time.

As I let go and let God, that was when miracles started to happen.

Six days after that divine encounter, a woman living almost 10,000 miles from me whom I had never met before contacted me.

A linguist by training, she said that for years she had followed my blog and had been burdened to write to me but could not find the courage. That week, she said the burden was so heavy within her that she had no choice but to write to me, to ask if she could translate and print my books for literacy programs for the needy. “Your books are not just children’s books,” she said. “There is so much more to them than I could explain.”

And just days later, after a long hiatus of delays and obstacles, my publisher successfully put the books on Amazon.

I admit, a part of me keeps worrying if anyone will read them. I worry if this whole Amazon thing is just “fluff,” if my books are “just children books,” nothing of significance.

I admit, a part of me wants to lap up all the advice I’ve been given, to partner with the big NGOs, hire videographers, web designers, marketers, revamp the website, go big, go global.

But as I remember the mind-boggling nature of God and His ways, I am amazed by how He brings His promises to pass, how He does things in His time when we stop trying to do them for Him.

I remember how when I carried Sarah-Faith to term, there was such a peace and rest in the process, even though the most amazing miracles were taking place within me, hushedly, ceaselessly, away from the eyes of the world. All I had to do was to sow my life in prayer, wholeheartedly, authentically, and be faithful to carry her through.

Carry her through every day, minute by minute through those ten long months, with the faith that it would all be worth it, even when I wanted it to end sooner.

And when the time, His time, came to birth her at home under that starlit winter sky, though the travail was not painless, what a birth into the world that was- an unstoppable event of combustible energy enthused with a Power far greater than I could ever imagine.

I gave into that Power, and she was born- the greatest miracle I had ever seen.

So if you ask me how I “did” it, how I “made Amazon happen,” perhaps it would be truthful to say, “It happened like how Sarah-Faith was birthed- not by contending, but through carrying a seed of faith to fruition through prayer.”

Thank you all for journeying with us. For those of you who have loved the books, we would so appreciate yr support. Please feel free to spread the word- we hope they will bless your friends and family around the world this Christmas. All the royalties go to supporting those in need. https://www.amazon.com/author/waijia

Finally, if God places a burden on your heart to be a part of Kitesong in any way, we would so appreciate your prayers- we are praying for a global team. Please write to us at cliffnwaijia@gmail.com. We would so appreciate hearing from you.

Thank you.

 

When I heard what he said, my heart skipped a beat.

Not again. Not here, not now. Not a day before our 5th wedding anniversary.

“My blood results came back,” said my husband Cliff. “The Bilirubin ain’t good.”

My heart and mind raced. Bilirubin. Liver transplant failure. Crisis.

Six years ago, just before we married, I remember Cliff’s first medical crisis after his liver transplant from cancer sent me to my knees in prayer. Back then, so many people questioned my choice, challenging me why, why someone with a transplant, why a “high-risk” choice, why.

As shared on our wedding video which had gone a little viral back then, I felt it was God’s way of challenging me whether I was willing to take a step of faith, which has since become a theme in our journey, and a part of our daughter’s name.

Back then, I never dreamt we would have much time together, much less have children. I never knew if the immunosuppressants he was on might affect our chances of having children- part of me never wanted to know.

Specifically, I had bargained with God for three years of marriage. It explained the insanity of our choices, why we kept ourselves mobile, why we left to serve in Uganda for a year. Having a glimpse of the brevity of his life put a brake on the whirlwind race in my life, that was set on a path of success, wealth and prestige, without any meaning.

Why this news, why now. I thought of the irony of the matter- six years ago when Cliff proposed, I was fuming because I had applied to Johns Hopkins for a Masters of Public Health. In my own childish words back then-“You’re ruining my plans!” Truth be told, it was the best decision I had made- to drop my application to marry him.

Fast forward to today, we’re at Johns Hopkins, only because he kept reminding me of the dream I had laid down six years ago.

“It’s time,” he said. “I’ll do everything I can to support you.”

His little sacrifices in dying to himself, day by day, to give life, hope, and dreams to his wife and daughter for us to be here, have made not only our lives all the richer, but has set ablaze an example for many fathers who watch the testimony of his life in awe. My friends at school remind me daily, how much they admire his dedication in looking after Sarah-Faith, his commitment to our well-being by dropping her off to school to me every day at lunchtime, his funny antics in keeping our marriage fun, and thriving.

So why the news now, God. When I’m finally at Hopkins. Just a day before our fifth wedding anniversary. Is this some sort of joke?

“Are you certain?” I asked. “You sure it’s bilirubin that’s high?”

“Yes, I’ll show you the results.”

And there it was, the numbers in red, the numbers that don’t lie. And above it, the heading which was brazenly printed “Bilirubin,” explaining Cliff’s reply.

My medical eye scanned the section furiously.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “There’s a technical glitch!”

And there it was, the heading “Bilirubin” when it was supposed to be the section for fasting glucose. A misprint, an error, an online formatting glitch. His bilirubin and liver panel were printed next to it, and were entirely normal.

How we laughed!

It all made sense. That just a day before our fifth wedding anniversary, I was reminded once again of the miracle of his life, the value of our marriage and how much I ought to cherish him, and us.

In a day and age where marriage has become disposable, I remember the commitment we made five years ago, till death do us part, however soon or later death might be, and my heart swells with gratitude.

Thank you Cliff, for the past five years. And Thank You God, for every day gone past, and each one to come.

And here’s sharing that short video that went round the world and back, five years ago.

 

We were incredibly touched to receive this handmade surprise from a classmate from Congo, who spent 2 days making this for our little one- it even comes with her signature bow!

Above all, we are filled with gratitude for the generosity of our new friends in this new land blessing our little one since school started- with pajamas from a classmate from Russia, a precious book and teether from a classmate from China, clothes and a toy cat from two classmates from Syria, and an Indian outfit from a group of friends from India!

Thankful for this precious international community of friends at such a young age!

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Team Tam’s First Fall together apple-and-pumpkin-picking together.

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All set for the cold!

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