We had a team down from Michigan this week. The main thing we did was take photos and measurements of each child for sponsorship. My job was to write each child’s name down on an index card. This meant I saw each face; every single child in kindergarten to 6th grade that attends this school. It wasn’t until I had already been through three classrooms before I realized what a privilege this was. I could see each person and tell them they were beautiful. I could look into every face and tell them Jesus loves them.
Sometimes the next child would tell me “No. She isn’t pretty.” And I would tell them all over again.
So I would whisper it into their ear so that the others couldn't say this.
Sometimes I had the entire class in an uproar of laughter. Probably because of my kindergarten-Creole grammar, but that was the goal; smiles and joy. I’d tell each person these things and remind them to smile for their picture because I love smiles and their smiles are beautiful and God made them beautiful.
And they always smiled.
Several times since this I have passed a class and I’ll hear one or two people say “Sveta! Souri!” (Sveta! Smile!) accompanied by the whole class laughing. But that’s okay. Seeing the joy on these kids’ faces as I told them those words is worth every bit of teasing. In those three days I realized what my goal in life is: to make each person know they are loved.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
It was day three of VBS. 250 kids and 16 adults were in the chapel. My row seemed to hold the most wiggly children, but maybe that is just what children do. "Sit" is a foreign word, even spoken in their language. If you say "Be quiet." they look at you like you're an alien. That's okay, though, except when you're in chapel. One girl got mad at her friend, and after hitting her she promptly sits next to me with a scowl on her face like I'm supposed to do something about it. Said friend starts complaining. Someone (or more than one) is rubbing my arm or pulling my hair. Four kids argued over who could sit next to me, and in the process they practically sat on top of each other. I had to smile at that one. And one little boy amused himself by pinching all the little girls in sight. I finally decided to ignore the chaos around me and dance and sing with the behaving kids. Not two minutes later another hand reaches my arm, pats for my attention, and continues to do so. Finally I look over and see a smiling face of a little girl telling me I'm her friend. My mind wanders off to yesterday morning…
I was making my rounds checking all the classes when I was stopped by the visiting nurse and a little girl, who appeared to be around eight years old. The girl had a head wound that the nurse wanted to clean out, but the nurse needed help communicating with her. I volunteered to give it a try since Mary Jane was otherwise occupied. I told the girl the nurse wanted to help her and she would clean her wound. The little girl looked up at me with her big brown eyes and gave me a quick nod okay. We went to the class where the supplies were and as the nurse cleaned the wound, I talked to the girl. Besides the fact that she had never been to school, I couldn’t understand what she said to me. I was, however, able to tell her that we loved her, that she was our friend, that we wanted to help her, that Jesus loves her, and that she is beautiful. Afterwards we went on our separate ways, and in the busy-ness of the day this incident got pushed to the back of my head until chapel the next morning, where I looked up at yet another child wanting my attention to see this little girl squeezing my hand and smiling at me. I had a new friend. She had a new friend.
My prayer is that she found the greater friend than I in that week, the One who sticks closer than a brother. It’s in moments like this that I am reminded why I do what I do, and why I want to do it for the rest of my life. I might not be able to love every child in the world, but Jesus can, and I can sow seeds wherever I go, bringing hope to the hopeless, joy to the joyless, and love to the forgotten.