Thursday, January 27, 2011

.three years ago.

.three years ago.  Three years ago today I left for a mission trip to Liberia, West Africa.  When I left I didn't believe that this trip would change my life, I simply thought it would be another chapter in my story.  Looking back I can safely say that it is the one Chapter that started a whole New Book.  It was a new beginning because, you see, it is where I fell deep in love with God and realized I needed a new beginning, In Him.  It is where I decided with my whole heart to live for the Lord.  Where I said I will live for You. 
Margaret
 It is amazing what God can do, even when your not whole heartily in it for Him.  I wanted to go to Liberia for travel.  Sure I thought I could help in the schools and the orphanages.  I thought I could bring Jesus to the little children.  I didn't know they would truly teach me what His words meant.  I didn't know they would be the ones who showed me His heart.  I also didn't know I would think about them so often when I got back here.  That I would yearn to go back and hold them one more time.  To go back just to sing some more silly songs.  To go back and just be.  I hope that some day I can.  .three years ago.
Samson
 I wanted to share with you parts from a letter Mandie and I wrote.  This is from the first day we went to the orphanage.

Hello Everyone,
  Later today we went to an orphanage that is about 20 minutes away.  When we pulled up to a tattered building the children came running for us. I had about 7 children just wanting to sit on my lap or cuddle up to me. Mandie and I each took a book and were reading to the children. They were just swarming us from the get go. They have a small vocabulary and cannot understand all of the words, but they love to be read to. Children were just piled on top of me. They were all very dirty, but so beautiful.
Tammy and Mandie were going to organize a game so I got to hold the wee one, (yes Gray's Irish talk is starting to rub off on us as well, we will be speaking many languages when we get home). I held a baby boy his name is Wonderful, and he is. He is a gorgeous baby and I would have held him forever if they would have let me. Even when I started passing a ball with another boy I had my arms wrapped in this sweet baby.
Baby Wonderful
I also clung right away, or she clung to me, to a young girl named Hannah. She is so spunky and full of energy and has the smile that is so wide it makes your face light up. Every chance she got she was climbing all over me, playing with my hair, and wanting me to pick her up. She even climbed over the young baby to get some attention from me.
Precious
Another young lady I met is Tina, she was such an amazing young woman. She is 15 years old, but she has to work like she is a mother. She washes the kids, cooks for them, feeds the babies, and braids their hair. Mandie tried to encourage her and give her a lot of attention because she has such a difficult job, and I sat with her a while as well. We communicated well, and I loved talking to her. She knows Jesus and trusts in him completely and she said one day we will be good friends in heaven. Mandie read with her a while, and I told her to keep up with her reading so she could read the Bible for herself and the younger children. Mandie and I told her that she works for Jesus, and he will help her take care of them.
Hannah
The hardest part about being at the orphanage was seeing how they live. There are about 30 - 40 children, the boys have one room and the girls have the other. The room that they have is very small, and very dirty. The children have only one or two outfits and do not get a bath very often. There is only one lady and one man that takes care of all these children, and in doing so they have other jobs so they can provide food and pay for things the children NEED (like food, clothing, and the rent). The older children have most of the responsibilities on the smaller kids, each older child is in charge of 4 or 5 little ones. It makes your heart ache to see how they live, yet they are satisfied and bless the Lord for what they have.
We cried when we got home. It is so hard to hold them in your arms and have to let go. It truly is amazing though, the value of even just holding a child. Wonderful was contently sitting in my arms the whole time, and I loved it.
"Do not sore up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" Matthew 6:19-21

Tina is smiling in the middle.
Afterthoughts:
  The orphanage left an imprint on me that I don't think I will be able to shake off.  And I don't think I want to.  The little children there were always dirty & hungry, but their souls were well fed and they always praised the Lord for what they had.  They live in small rooms with not enough beds & too many bugs to count.  They live with smiles upon their faces.  They live in half of a bombed out building.  They live with the love from each other.  They live with no shoes & tattered clothes.  They live singing and dancing for the Lord.  These are the children that I desperately want to hold again.  They are not just part of a numbered group, 140+ million, they are people, they have faces, they have names - Tina, Liz, Wonderful, Margaret, Precious, Hannah, Samson......  They are meant to be cared for.  They are meant to be loved.

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