Kisses from Katie – A Book Review

Kisses from Katie
Oh my! This book!  I read Kisses from Katie for the first time about three years ago.  My husband came out to where I was reading on the veranda, looked at the book in  my hands and my tear stained cheeks and said ‘Why are you reading something that makes you so sad?”

I had only just started reading. I was barely through the first chapter but Kisses from Katie was working it’s magic on my life.  This book had an incredible impact on me from the very first page and now,three years later, I still think about and talk about it often.

I so want you to read this book.  And yes, it may make you cry, and it may make you sad, but to know that there are people out there doing something, making a difference, no matter how small is inspiring.

Katie is a young American girl who goes to Uganda on a short term mission trip and looses her heart to this African nation.  The short term turns into a year, and then into the foreseeable future, as she foregoes her comfortable life in the states to care for the orphaned and abandoned children of Masese, Uganda.

I want to include a small part of the Forward in Kisses from Katie by Beth Clarke here.  Just in case you need any further convincing 🙂

“Many of the village children appeared to be sick,  but one little girl, who looked to be about three or four years old, stood out from the rest.  Her tiny body seemed barely able to carry her enormous belly and her dirty skin was dotted with unidentifiable bumps, blisters and the kind of sores that appear with chicken pox.  A wound that was part scab, part raw and oozing covered about half of her little mouth.

I watched Katie walk over to this fragile child, pick her up gently, assess her needs almost instantly, and begin asking other children questions about her.

‘Who is this child?’

‘What is her name?’

‘Where is her home?’

Where is her mother?’

Soon the little girls aunt approached to say her name was Napongo, her mother had gone to Kampala, her father was gone and the aunt, who must have been twelve or thirteen years old, was responsible for the little girl.

Within a few minutes, I was being jolted along the uneven road from the Masese school in Katie’s sixteen passenger van with the fragile little girl, her aunt, and four of Katie’s fourteen children.  We were headed to the home of Katie’s friend Renee to give Napongo a bath because Renee’s was the closest place Katie knew that had clean running water.  

I watched in awe, and a bit of disgust as the little girl stood motionless in the tub as Katie ran water from a portable shower head and sprinkled it on her wrists.  I silently wondered why she didn’t move a little faster with the bathing process but realised perhaps the little girl had never been in a bathtub.  Having her entire body sprayed with the shower head could have terrified her.  Katie was dripping water on her own wrists and then on the little girls, to help her feel safe and at ease.

Napongo barely moved as Katie tenderly ran a bar of soap over her. 

The clean, clean water that came out of the shower head became dark red as it rolled off her and into the drain.  And then, in a move that surprised Katie and me, the aunt walked into the bathroom, took the soap from Katie, and began to scrub the little girl.  I was afraid the child would burst into tears, but still she stood without squirming or squealing or raising any of the objections toddlers typically raise.

Katie and I watched quietly, both of our minds filled with the same question: “How can it be that this aunt who isn’t clean herself and lives in squalor in a dirty village, knows the importance and cleanliness for this child?” She was washing the little girl with determination and concentration, as though she understood that this activity was vital to the child’s well being.  More than likely this aunt had really wanted Napongo to be clean and well all along, but simply didn’t have the means to help her. 

When the child had been bathed to her aunts satisfaction, Katie wrapped her in a towel and carried her to the nearby bed.  She knelt in front of her and began to remove Jiggers from her feet.  Jigger was not a word I had heard before.  In Uganda Jiggers are everywhere and they cause much trouble.  They are small insects that burrow painlessly into a persons skin and create a tiny egg sac, leaving a little bump that appears as inflammation.  While having Jiggers doesn’t hurt until they have practically infested an area of the body, having them removed can be excruciating.  But Napongo didn’t wince, or scream, or jerk in any way, as Katie removed the Jiggers and cut away the dead skin around them. 

She simply sat silently as a few tiny tears made their way slowly down her face.”

At this point in the story I was a mess.  Maybe because I have seen this poverty first hand or maybe because I have children of my own but I was sobbing and I just wanted to get up and do something to make a difference!  I have experience Jiggers myself when we lived  in Madagascar.  Horrible, horrible things and when we found one on my 3 year old daughters foot, we took her to a doctor to have it removed with a local anaesthetic!  I can’t imagine the scene had we had to do it ourselves with no pain relief!

Since reading and re-reading Kisses from Katie, I’ve had a lot of time to think.  I’ve read the sequel to Kisses from Katie Daring to Hope, as well as other biography’s about missionaries to third world countries like Riley Unlikely and Mother of Malawi, The Night the Angels Came and Have a Little Faith and what I’ve come to realise is this:  We may not all be Katies.  We may not all be able to go to foreign lands and help thousands.  But I’ve learnt that I don’t have to help the multitudes.  In fact, I would never be able to.  But I can help one person.  And if I can do for one person what I wish I could do for all of those suffering, I will make a difference!  And if I do it.  And you do it.  And our neighbours see us and then they do too!  We can change lives, and nations and the world.  And how incredible will that be!!?

So, in ending, I just want to say…. READ THIS BOOK!  Its beautifully written with references to scripture and real heart-felt events.  It will change you!

Matthew 19:14  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

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