When Heather Barlow returns from Africa, the joy she felt during her missionary trip fades. She's still suffering from unresolved grief over the death of her friend Ian, and now that she's back home in the United States, she feels directionless. And while Heather has changed a great deal, her family has not. She is discouraged to see that her sister, Amber, seems no more mature than when Heather left, her parents no less involved with a medical practice that caters to the wealthy.Heather's sense of purpose is renewed when she persuades her mother to travel with her back to Uganda to try to save the baby she rescued on her mission trip. But when Heather becomes ill and cannot undertake the journey, Amber agrees to go in her place. Now Amber must emerge from her sister's shadow to grapple with the age-old question, "Am I my brother's keeper?"From the Paperback edition.
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May 08, 2000
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Excerpt from Angel of Hope by Lurlene McDaniel
I hope this letter finds you well rested after your big adventure here in Africa. I also hope you had a blessed Christmas and New Year's Day. We had an especially nice holiday. Visitors on safari, friends of Paul's parents in North Dakota, came through laden with two suitcases full of presents from home: Canned goods, flour, real chocolate chips, peanut butter...plus piles of gifts. The boys could hardly believe all their loot, but to their credit, they wrapped up many of the gifts and gave them to the kids here at the Children's Home. It warmed my heart to have them behave so generously. (All without me nagging them either!)
Paul whisked me away for New Year's Eve in Kampala at the Hilton. Decadent woman that I am, I soaked in a hot tub until I turned into a prune. Missionary life in the bush really makes a girl appreciate such goodies as perfumed soap and real shampoo!
I know you're anxious about word of Kia and Alice. Kia continues to blossom--thanks to you. As for baby Alice, well, she's won all our hearts. Both girls are living with us. Yes, it's crowded, but neither is ready to be assimilated into one of the family units yet.
The girls living in the family units are a big help to me with Alice. They take turns feeding her several times a day, plus give her plenty of hugs and cuddling. Unfortunately, Dr. Gallagher says he doesn't feel qualified to repair her palate. So I guess it's up to us and the Good Lord to keep her nourished and healthy until a qualified cranial-facial surgeon arrives from the Mercy Ship when it docks in Kenya this summer. I'm telling you this so that you won't be worried about her--I know how special she is to you.
We all miss you. You're one in a million, a bright and lovely young woman who deserves the best. I pray for you every day, that God wi11 ease the ache in your heart and help you resume your life. Follow your dreams--whatever they may be now.
And give yourself permission to mourn for Ian for as long as you like. There is no time limit on grief, you know. None of us will ever forget you and the brave thing you did for Kia and Alice. Please write and keep us informed of your plans.
In His Love,
PS. Ed Wilson is mailing this for me when he returns to the US. He says "Hello" and that you're his hero (heroine) for all time!
Heather Barlow lay on her bed reading and rereading Jodene Warring's letter, memories of Uganda flashing through her mind like postcards. Some images were wonderful: the exotic beauty of the African landscape, the smiling faces of the children at the Kasana Children's Home and hospital, Paul, Jodene, their four children, Heather's friends from the Mercy Ship. Some pictures were frightening: the storm at sea, the sick and dying children in Kenya, her night flight to freedom with baby Alice. And over every picture in her mind's eye, she saw Ian. His smile. His deep blue eyes. She would never see his beloved face again. He would never hold her again and call her "lass" in his rich Scottish accent.
Sadness engulfed her, and she fumbled for his journal on her nightstand. Thank you, Jodene, for giving this to me, she thought. She ran her hand across the smooth leather surface. It was all she had of Ian now. All she would ever have. She wiped her teary eyes with the edge of her comforter.
She had spread photographs from her months in Africa on her desk, picking and choosing between the ones she would put on her bulletin board and in her scrapbook. Every face that smiled out at her made her long to turn back the clock and repeat every day of her trip. Against her parents' wishes, she had nixed enrolling at the University of Miami for the winter term. She didn't feel ready to jump back into her life stateside. And Jodene's letter had made her feel even less ready. She felt restless, at loose ends, unable to pick up her life where she'd left off before her mission trip.left off before her mission trip.