Thobega is my friend. She is a strong black South-African woman with an amazing voice, a love for cooking, lots of opinions, and a humble appreciation for her Heavenly Father's love. And she is passionate about life. She works for Justice Dolls, making dolls to raise awareness about Human Trafficking and other injustices. I was able to sit in with her and the ladies there, making dolls, and talking the afternoon away. After visiting with her just briefly, we really clicked. And as I continued to make regular visits, a friendship developed.
She and I would chat about life; laugh at the silliness of children, vent frustrations about the opposite sex, share testimonies of God's greatness, and dream about the future. In many ways, we are quite alike, and yet our lives are so different. We both married our highschool sweethearts: I was married at age 19, and she at age 18. We are both moms. While my family is still growing, she has just one, a beautiful 9 year-old daughter named Onge. While my husband and I have had to work through many issues in marriage, Thobega's marriage fell apart right after her baby was born, and she is now raising her daughter on her own, in a little shack in the wetland area of Masi.
We were able to celebrate Thobega's 28th birthday with her. We stopped by the Justice Doll shop and surprised her with a birthday cake. And after singing in English and Xosa, she smiled, closed her eyes, and maybe she made a wish. And while I don't know for sure what she was wishing at that moment, I know what she carries in her heart, because we had talked about it a few days earlier. Her consistent prayer to God is to be able to live to be 40 years old, so that she can watch her daughter enter adulthood and know she will be okay. She wants to see her receive an education, get a job, maybe fall in love, and more than anything, grow to know, love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Thobega is living each day with the knowledge that one day she will lose her battle to HIV/Aids, and she will leave this earth, leaving her daughter behind.
I have to admit, this makes me angry, REALLY angry.
But when I question God about this, I am almost ashamed, because I know he is not the thief who has come to steal, kill and destroy... he is her Heavenly Father, the God of love and compassion, the creator of Heaven and Earth, and giver of life, the one true God, who came to Earth to overcome the world, who conquered the grave and rose again, who promises to comfort us, wipe away every tear and make us new. So, I have to give up my right to understand everything, and just ask him for his peace which transcends understanding.
And I can be thankful for my friendship. I can continue to pray for Thobega and Onge. And I can tell their story, so you too can pray.
Please check out the Justice Doll website at: www.justicedoll.org. Joylynn Landshut and her husband Dave have an amazing vision, and all the ladies involved are remarkable women of God. And each has a story to be told.
(We also have a limited number of Justice Dolls available for anyone wishing to purchase some.)