I have peered through the lens of the young unwedded girl – the girl who became a mom too soon. Too accidentally. Too unprepared. Still with purpose and joy. Defeats magnified and victories quieted. Hope fully in tact.
I have peered through the lens of a young woman who terminated life without much ado. Her shame broke her shoulders and her pain punctured her heart. Soul wound. This lens reveals a woman who punished herself more than the world ever could. Lashed on the back. Buckled at the knees. Face in mud.
I have peered through the lens of a woman who miscarried tragically in public view. Life thwarted. Pain intensified. Hope washing away. A baby boy or a baby girl formed by God in her womb – knitted together with love and promise. A good-bye baby.
I have peered through the lens of a woman straightening it all out, living with healed shoulders and loving with hope that was restored with baby love lost. She is the woman who collects the pain of the world, loves it with her hands and molds it into something fresh and good. Good love. God love. The reason for living.
I have peered through the lens of a woman who has gathered cries of the motherless to herself and extends the arms that belong to other women, missing or gone. Her lens by now shattered and blurry. But she still sees.
Smooth landing. From the sky above this Tennessee toward April’s end, I saw nothing but green. New green. New life on the trees. Trees that were still bare when I left. Trees that were just beginning to think about coming back to life.
There is the receiving terminal, the gate and long airport hallways. My suitcases drag me through to find the people with squeals and arms wide open to receive the woman they call home. A full woman. A tired woman. A woman who needs to unpack.
Home arrives. Greasy finger prints on walls from little hands not washed nearly enough call out to her as she walks through the door with such heavy baggage. Baggage filled with personals crammed in and all wrinkled up – perpetual collections of dirt and sweat smelling like the home sweet home away from home sweet home. Africa.
Clean pillow case and fresh sheets find her heavy head and cradle her into a false rest. Who can rest with images of teary eyed babes waving good-bye branded on the insides of eyelids? Of God’s children reflected by the lights and mirrors stored deep in the sub-conscious? Rest comes painfully when sleeping with sharp knives – cutting through the heart to unpack what is afraid to come out yet too painful to stay in.
The laundry is done, hair is washed and legs are smooth again. The airport has flown away.
A lifetime of unpacking begins.
The exchange of sponsor letters was beyond successful. Less than half of the children here have sponsors so to avoid jealousy and/or pain we held the sponsorship presentations privately and in small circles. The children, young and old, are elated. It is a joy that I may not have been fully prepared for. The lights on their faces have been so bright. Their shoulders have pulled back and their chests puffed out. They have been seen. Noticed. They have found themselves in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They are the treasure. Priceless.
It blesses me and it scares me. I want more than anything for every one of these precious children to have sponsors. Of course the financial support that is provided by the sponsors is a great aid in providing for food, school fees and covering the costs of keeping up the buildings that they live in, including rental and maintenance fees – but to the children I can see that what matters most is that they get to make friends and share letters and photos. This makes them so joyful and I don’t want their joy to be broken. And yet I have no control.
If every child here were to become fully sponsored – these kids would be in a far better position than they are today. Their crops could be expanded, their chicken project could be greatly expanded and their peanut butter production could triple. Every child here is learning a skill, being framed for production and every child here understands the fruits of labor. They really work! And best of all, they are being taught to give 10% of what they receive to help other orphans in the area – even if that 10% is incredibly difficult to part with.
Separate from sponsorships we have two immediate goals:
1. To purchase 55 heavy warm winter blankets before June. Their winter season is setting in and they typically remain very cold at night and most of them struggle with constant colds and flu. The blankets are too heavy to travel with so we must purchase them here. They are $30 each. We need to raise $1,700 for blankets asap so that they may be purchased before winter sets in.
2. The orphanages have the space and capacity for a commercial broiler chicken project. They can produce 1,000 chickens every 7 weeks with the right equipment. The first part of that project is a water tank for a cost of $7,000. The entire project is $30,000 but after one year it can begin to turn a handsome profit to help improve and repair structures, expand one of the orphanages and cover rentals. The goal is to contract with the government to provide chickens to prisons and other government entities. (btw – they are already producing chickens on a smaller scale at approx 100).
We are praying for partners to help raise these funds. Will you consider partnering with us? Stay tuned for more info.
Sisterly, sisterly –
How do I love thee?
Momma up and gone on along.
The good Lord knew we’d be here
Right here under the sun sitting hot on our sweet heads.
Sisterly, sisterly –
How much I love thee so!
When you close your eyes I’ll surely hold you tight.
It can be your turn tomorrow night
Right here where the moonlight tucks us to sleep inside the Africa sky.
Sisterly, sisterly –
Will we ever know why our momma had to go
And leave us beneath the sky alone?
But for you sisterly, my tears won’t bathe my toes
Because you wipe them as they flow.
*** more photos at www.beautifulfeetgo.blogspot.com
some of the other times that i have visited here – my other home – i have left feeling disappointed in myself for not knowing some of the children better. the quiet ones. the wounded ones. the ones who don’t know what to say.
i haven’t known how to break the ice – how to break in – how to find pieces to make sense of the whole.
one determination is on my mind. this time i will break through. the ice will melt.
is there anything that crafts cannot cure?
scissors cutting out hearts and petals for flowers – pasting love made of gorgeous artisan papers – solving the worlds problems one glue stick at a time
(while they cut and glue)
who is the silliest girl in the room?
giggles dance in the air as eyes all look to one quiet girl – one quiet girl who evidently invites a roar among her peers. who knew?
now i do
what do you do when the lights go out? is it straight to sleep or is there silliness? – evidently there is dancing. who knew?
now i do
over shoulders words i see – love / sweetheart / God – as scraps of paper fall to the floor and glue gathers pink circles to brown stripes and seals every deal
**our day was really so wonderful. michelle, elaine and i set up in different rooms and we manned activity stations. the children were divided into very small groups and took turns with each of us for about an hour each. it was a very long day but by the end i know so much more about them and they may have learned a few secrets about me too. some made bracelets. others play card games. others learned how to make card crafts. the children have had an absolute blast. this operation was such a very sweet success. the only rainbows today came alive in eyes of littel girls in boys. real live indigo.