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."