This is Joy! She is just five weeks old. She was born on June 6. Isn’t she beautiful?
One of the reasons she is so special to us is because we were asked to name her even before she was born. Being given the privilege of naming a child in most African cultures is an incredible honor, so we were incredibly honored, humbled and delighted.
Joy is the second child of Joseph, one of the people who works at the house we are renting. As one of the guards we’ve come to really trust Joseph and appreciate his helpfulness. He’s helped us on numerous occasions above and beyond his guarding responsibilities, such as finding a mechanic to make a house call when the car wouldn’t start on a Saturday, taking our battery to be charged when it was drained, locating petrol for us during the shortage. We’ve been able to help him too with some cash advances (which he has always paid back), taking him to the clinic when he was sick and making a birthday cake for his first child, Benadeta, when she turned four.
Before we left in May for two weeks Joseph asked us to give him a girl and a boy’s name in case the baby was born while we were away. He said, “I never will forget you, so I want you to name my baby.” Wow–did that humble us!
I’d been reading Ps. 126 that week, which speaks a lot about joy, joy experienced and joy anticipated. It says: “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” (vs. 3) and “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him” (vs. 6). Joseph is a joyful person despite many of the hardships he’s experienced and he was so full of joy over the coming of this baby, that the name ‘Joy’ seemed a very fitting name for a girl. Thankfully, she was a girl because the boy’s name was not so easily said in Chichewa.
The beauty and wonder is the blessing this child is, first to her family, then to the world. For she holds all the promise and potential of a unique image-bearer of God. As I was able to meet Joy for the first time, hold her, and take some pictures of her with her family, the love that surrounds her new life was so evident. Her proud parents beamed over her with the same rejoicing, awe and hopefully anticipation of what her life will come to be, just as all new parents do. What a blessing to be able to participate and experience this JOY!