Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pancakes and Prayers

It was one of those evenings that I nearly gave in to the temptation to skip story time and prayer time all together. 

The day had been great mind you, but I was tired from the Amazon sun and was flying solo for the evening while Richard had stayed back in Benjamin to finish up some projects, so the sooner bed time came around, the better. 

But I mustered up just a wee bit more energy and made the usual rounds.

I asked each of the kiddos what they were most thankful for today. RaeRae had her usual answer of "Eat pizza!!" (Regardless of whether we have actually eaten pizza, that is always what she is most thankful for.) Clene and Elliott followed suite with their usuals of playing and what-not. 

Next question, "What's something you want to ask Jesus for?" 

We have been focused on teaching thankfulness for over a year and only recently introduced the idea of asking Jesus for specific things. It has actually been really amazing to hear their child-like requests. You would think it would be full of wants and personal desires, but mostly it's just the opposite.

Elliott's eyes lit up.

"I know!" he said. "We could ask Jesus for an apple for Chico. He NEVER gets apples. He just eats Cheetos and candy ALL the time. {Insert sad face here} And you know what else? He NEVER gets pancakes."

"We could definitely ask Jesus to give Chico some healthy snacks, Buddyroo," I replied. "That's a great idea. Like maybe some apples and bananas?"

{Face lights back up} "Yeah! And we could make pancakes and... maybe put, like, three of them... put them in little bags and give them to him for breakfast!" 

"Dantakes!!" (That was RaeRae's enthusiastic agreement.)

What can I say? My kids love pancakes.

My heart melted. 

I think to fully understand, you'd have to know a little more about Chico (pronounced "She-koo"). 

That little cutie in the middle there. The one in the brown shirt. That's Chico. 

This picture was taken at the Grace House Christmas party. Most of the kids stayed for craft time and then went home for lunch. Not Chico and his sister though. They sort of just hung around awkwardly as we all fixed our plates. 

We fixed them plates, too. We knew why they were hanging around. 

The party carried on and we all went our separate ways later that day. It wasn't until a couple weeks later that Rosa told me that very early the next morning after the party, around 5:30 or so, she heard a knock at the door. She opened it to find Chico standing there all wild-eyed like he is. 

"Is there another party today?" he asked.

"No, Chico. That was just for Christmas," Rosa responded.

"Oh. Ok...

I just wanted to eat again," he said.

We saw Chico again today while we were at Grace House. He was chasing kites down the street. He had a sucker in his mouth, his lips bright pink and sticky. 

My mind went back to that story. I knew that sucker was probably one of the only things his little taste buds would enjoy that day. 

Like so many other kids in this small jungle town, Chico is actually not an orphan by definition. He has a mom and a dad and a house to sleep in. But he is a street kid. His days are spent running wild in the streets, eating 25cent bags of sugary puffs and sucking on 10cent suckers to appease the hunger pangs. His clothes are full of holes and he has fungal infections on his legs from rarely taking a bath.  I've watched him cry because he is terrified of the stray dogs that roam the street, often aggressive. He is navigating this great big world all alone while his parents run a bar/poker ring. 

And I've hugged him and looked in his eyes to see maybe one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

A blank stare. 

So many of these kids lack the affection, love, attention, education, and nutrition that they need so their bodies are in a constant fight, flight, or freeze mode. Chico is one of the hundreds here. 

I glance down the road at the older boys who I know are up to no good. I know about their stories, too. Some of them hit close to home. I look back at Chico and I know that, unless the Body of Christ intervenes, that's him in just a few short years. There is no choice really. What else is a street kid supposed to do? Grow up and be a productive member of a society where drunkeness and teen-pregnancy abound and no one teaches otherwise? 

( At what age does the compassion for the little ones burn up, replaced by disgust for the "hooligan" teenagers? A question I struggle with myself. )

So here we are just taking things one step at a time with Grace House. Investing in these three that God has given Rosa to care for. Offering them love and nutrition and education and Jesus as best as we know how. Praying that God would provide the strength, capacity, finances to reach more. 

And we know we can't reach them all. Chico will never live at Grace House though he is an orphan for all intents and purposes. 

But maybe, just maybe, we can still invest in him. Maybe we can love him like Jesus did. Maybe we can offer him some nutrients. Maybe we can teach him about Jesus. 

Maybe he can even eat pancakes.

I don't know what God has. 

I do know that Mariclene cried big, real tears the other night thinking of her biological brother who still lives with her biological parents in a very bad situation. I do know Elliott has a heart for these kids who don't have a family like he does.

Will you pray? Pray for wisdom. Pray for vision. Pray for funding. Pray for faith. 

Pray for these kids. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

If It Were Me

We drove by her in the taxi today. Her daughter was by my side and I pulled her in closer to me, just in case she had spotted her, too.

I felt it in the pit of my stomach, rising up as it does every time we cross paths. Even if she doesn’t see me, I see her and a wave of emotion overcomes me as I think:

What if that were me?

I glance over at my blonde-haired loves and wonder what it would be like to forget them. To know that they were out there somewhere, but to not really care. I pull my brown-eyed beauty closer still.

And I remember. Grace. That is the only difference.

Because sometimes I am tempted to be angry with her, this woman who gave birth to my daughter. I want to lash out even and say, “How could you?! Don’t you see what you have done? What mother can do that??”

Especially after long days when the thoughts try to enter my mind of how this woman abandoned this girl and now we are left piecing things back together while she goes on merry her way.

But it’s not really like that at all. Not one bit.

Because not too long ago, she was also that broken little girl. She was longing for love and a place to call home. I don’t know much about her, but I imagine she didn’t plan this life this way. I imagine in the beginning she didn’t plan to abandon her own flesh and blood, to leave them begging in the streets.

But she did.

And so will many others. Hopelessness.

And God knows I don’t have the answers to this cycle of hurt people hurting people. It’s a vicious cycle and when you live in the midst of it and you see the kids all around you that are just one short decade from statistically becoming the abandoners instead of the abandonees, it’s overwhelming.

Grace. It’s all there is.

And so we pray for this generation in this little Amazonian town that maybe God would allow us to be a tiny speck of a part in showing them what it can be like when the orphans have a true Father. When the abandonees can grow up to be men and women who love, give, serve, forgive.

God gave us one that is now tightly knit in our family forever.

For three others, He called us to start Grace House for them to find Refuge.

This year, we are praying that we can do even more in this little town to show God’s grace to these littles.

Will you join us? Will you commit to pray for Grace House and the abandoned and abused of this Jungle town?

Let’s be the church and watch as Christ transforms a generation that can impact generations to come.  

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