I have been here in Arusha for a bit over 5 weeks. In many ways it feels like it has been so much longer than that. I feel at home. However, from time to time I find my mind wandering back to other things. The comfortable life I had in St Paul. The friends I had at camp. The strong community I had in the midwest. Some days I head back to my house here to find I am too tired to make dinner, and the electricity is out, and I am in bed by 9 pm. On those days it can be hard to find purpose in what I am doing. On those days it can be hard to find joy.
I know now that my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. Daily, I’m forced to redefine the meaning of having much or having little. Its just a short walk away where I see those who physically have so little. But what JOY they greet me with! Or even spending time with these children at Neema house. These little children, most of whom don’t know what its like to have one Mama and one Baba (father). Yes they are greatly cared for at Neema but some times my heart aches for them. And yet, the LOVE and JOY they greet me with, each time I walk through the door.
As I fed little Sarah, my mind raced through how many people had fed her a bottle in her short two months of life. How many people have gotten lost in her eyes as they rocked her to sleep. How many hands have comforted her cries? How many people have loved her for a moment, and then left?
The other day I held Pray as he cried, and to be honest I cried too. I cried that I couldn’t take away his tooth pain (he is getting 4 molars), that we just had to wait for the medicine to kick in. I cried that his dad has missed out on so much of his life. I cried that he will be going home with his dad soon (though that is a good thing- I will just miss him). I cried because there are so many other babies like Pray, whose mothers have passed away in child birth. I cried because I was tired. But most of all I cried because it felt like my heart could explode with all the love the Father was pouring into me.
I still struggle. I still have days and moments where I catch myself not loving with the Father’s love. Where I am trying to do it on my own. Or even not really trying. But He is gracious and forgiving and abounding in love and mercy. And how great the Father’s love for us that he LAVISHES that love on us. It is my job to be a vessel of that love, to lavishly love these children. Even when I’m tired. Even when I’m worn out. Even when its hot. Even when they cry, or fight or hit. Regardless of all circumstances, I am called to love.
In all this, I know God puts the lonely in families. He has done it with me, and I am so blessed to see him do it over and over.
(Bryony, all dressed up to go home!)
Last week baby Bryony went home with her new family. Her new mom came with her 4 sisters, and told us there was many many many more family members waiting at the house for Bryony’s welcoming. My heart was overwhelmed, especially as I remembered Dorris’ blog about when they brought Bryony to church and found her new mom. How this new mom cried over not being able to have a baby of her own, and yet this “white woman” could have one. After Dorris’ introduced herself and explained Bryony’s story, how she was abandoned and they were looking for a loving family for her, this woman knew it was a sign from God. It was so beautiful to see her receive her daughter, knowing she was going to her forever home.Seeing this mother delight in her daughter, this was a glimpse of how the Father delights in me. And in you.