Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Joy Unspeakable

   It was a magical day. I don't know how else to describe it. I walked hand in hand with three of the most beautiful and loved girls on the continent of Africa.

   Nine year old Mary arrived first and as I gently hugged her, I could literally feel her heart beating out of her little chest. This was a big moment for her and I am positive she was nervous, overwhelmed and excited, all at the same time. Her project staff worker was close by her side at all times, so Mary was not left without support.

   Mary was so tiny and the few pictures I have of her did not prepare me for her smallness. She's almost ten and looks to be all of six years old. I saw her face and knew it was her, but kept asking to make sure.

   She was very, very shy at first, with no hint of a smile. But she kept looking at me and watching my every move with the other two girls. After she saw that they were comfortable and even enjoying themselves, I felt her small hand slip into mine as we walked toward the park. Be still my beating heart.....

   Elizabeth was simply delightful. As the youngest of my girls, she was surprisingly effortless in bonding with me right away. The doll I presented her cinched the deal on our new friendship and she loved to just look at me, always watching me talk or eat or laugh. Her smiles came easily and she took my hand in hers at every opportunity.

   Roseline was my biggest surprise of all. In each of the pictures I have of her, she almost looks like a boy and seems very rigid and emotionless. I would not have called her "beautiful" if asked to describe her physical appearance.

   But Roseline in real life, I found out, is an entirely different girl than my assumptions from a few pictures. She walked towards me and held out her arms as we embraced in what felt like reuniting with with someone I had known for forever. And she was beautiful. Her eyes sparkled and her smile was wide and ever present.

   All of the girls were fascinated by my wind-blown, silky hair and they kept running their hands over to feel it. Whenever I was sitting down on the ground and needed to stand up, they surrounded me to help me up and then proceeded to brush every piece of grass and dirt off of my legs and skirt. When I showed them a few pictures of Caleb when he was sick and in the hospital, they murmured in Kiswahil and then said to me, " sorry" with their adorable Kenyan accent. Their instant compassion and concern for Caleb was genuine and their sad faces changed to broad smiles when I explained that he was healthy and well now.

   We blew bubbles, kicked a ball back and forth, and they delighted in throwing a frisbee...a new idea for them. I kept pausing to realize where I was and who I was with. My joy and wonder over it all kept rising and falling in huge crescendos. Never again will I wonder if I am doing the right thing in partnering with Compassion. These three girls mean as much to me now as my own children and are worthy of the hope and support and love that my sponsorship brings.

    The girls did not know each other before our magical day together, but they obviously bonded quickly and held hands like sisters. I am just blessed to be a part of their world  now and to have had the huge privilege of kissing the tops of their heads and looking into their eyes to say, "I love you. You matter. You are beautiful. I am honored to be your friend."

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Out of Africa

   So much for blogging my heart out on this African adventure. For starters, our schedule is incredibly full and once we have a moment to spare, we either hand wash a few articles of our clothing or fall straight into bed from exhaustion. Also, the internet service is hit or miss and I've had trouble connecting on most of my attempts. Pictures refuse to load, so we shall see what happens here.
   Africa is everything I dreamed it would be and so much more. My first glimpse of a Compassion child on our first day nearly stopped my heart. She was the poster child of my heart's desire and the "yes" from God to my lifelong dream. It's been surreal, to look these people in the eye and see my image reflected there.
   I will walk you through each of our incredible days once I get home. Every day has been a totally different experience, from the culture shock of Maassi Land, to the unimaginable city slums and on to the equally destitute rural villages. The road to one center was about ten miles long, but took us at least 50 minutes to reach our destination.
   I know you are all waiting for the details and especially the pictures!  Here's a few to get you started...


Saturday, March 17, 2012

This Is It

   I don't think I'll be eating much today. There is entirely too much emotion and anticipation in my gut for there to be any room for food.
  Tomorrow I leave for Kenya, Africa.
  Just typing that sentence makes me shiver and shake my head in wonder. I've always been a firm believer that dreams really do come true........

   For everyone else.

  Somewhere along the line I instituted my own personal rule that I would have to earn my keep in God's family of beloved sons and daughters. What He was offering was really too rich and too good for me to just help myself. I would easily and gladly take my place at the back of the line, and when I got too close to His outstretched hand of love, I would quietly slip to the back again, feeling that to even be in the line at all was enough. More than enough.

  Let's not call that humility, friends, if that's what you're thinking.

  Better to call it like it is.....a girl living and embracing a complete lie.

  The truth has been there all along, but it began to be unearthed when my four year old son got all tangled up in wires and catheters, IV's and central lines. It's just like God, out of so much pain and fear and the threat of death to bring about my life. He has a way of doing everything backwards, but it ends up being the right direction all along. As directionally impaired as I am, I get confused with this kind of help.
   But being confused is a small price to pay for living out who God says I am, and who I have been from the beginning.

   Before I go, here's a snapshot of another boy I love. His name is Alex and he lives in Uganda, Africa. He is one of my Compassion children and his letter landed in my mailbox yesterday. Attached was this photo of him, looking pretty sharp in the new clothes he bought with the Christmas money we sent for him.

    He sent me his love and his thanks, as well as a greeting from his entire family. You gotta love Compassion for making a relationship like this possible. One sponsor. One child. Hope.

     While in Kenya, I will be attempting to share adventures and pictures as they unfold. If you don't hear from me, it means I've either been kidnapped or the power is out. Both of which would be terribly inconvenient.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Kenyan Spaghetti

 The Compassion for Kenya Spaghetti Dinner was a huge success, raising over 1500 dollars, with three Kenyan children sponsored as well! I had a fantastic, hard-working team of friends cooking and serving almost non-stop throughout the evening. So many of you helped by donating your time and resources to this event and a big thank you to those who showed up for dinner as our guests!

  Here are a few more pictures for you!

I had to add a shot of my parents doing what they do best.....serving! Love and appreciate them both so much!

Only one week left until I board that Kenya bound plane!