"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed." Psalm 103: 1-6~
The Lord so sweetly gave me this scripture for my trip. I shared it with the people there, I embraced it while I loved and served them and I cling to it now. How mighty is the LORD who is our Savior!
This post is deep. I pray as you read it... and get a glimpse of what happens daily... over and over... and over... the Holy Spirit will blow upon you and whisper to your soul. That is my prayer... that is my main prayer.
Powder is mixed with water and posho is created. I may be spelling that wrong (M, let me know), but it is a substance close to our grits... after they have sat in your bowl for an hour... but hot! And the cook does this day after day after day after day... for hundreds of orphans.
It is stirred with sticks... heavy, thick and strong sticks that can take the weight of the posho as you dig and flip... dig and flip.
And it cooks all morning... in the kitchen... until early afternoon.
The children are released from school and they come across the road and gather... beneath trees. Everything happens beneath the greatness and shelter of the tree.
This is when the separation occurs. There are two great trees. Beneath one, children form into organized and very orderly lines. This is the tree of the sponsored... the children who have been profiled and are in the sponsorship program. There are about 250 beneath this tree. And they wait. They are about to be fed.
Then there is the other tree. The tree of the "have nots" as if there is a tree of the ones who "have".
They are the children in the background of this picture. And in reality, they are far more than a blur. They are hungry. They are not sponsored. They are not a part of the program. And they gather beneath the shelter of the tree... and they wait. But they also watch... for almost two hours... and this is what they watch... every day... over... and over... and over....
Children line up and patiently wait for the blessing of a hot meal...
they wash their hands...
and one by one... they are handed a bowl...
there is never a complaint about the child in front of them getting more...
just smile after smile mingled with "thank you"... over and over and over.
There is a humility that floods your soul when you hand food to a hungry child... a child who is really hungry... that is like nothing else. It stings as it collides with your heart and yet it immediately floods you with the Father's love and delight. And it... like so many other things there... lingers. It does not leave or let go. It moves every time I stand in front of my overflowing pantry. It moves every time I realize in the early morning hours that my kids are being fed around the world. I could stand and feed them all day... over... and over... and over.
The last child in line has gotten her bowl. Stomachs have been filled. Hearts have been replenished with hope. And God has provided... again... through this amazing program of Children's Hope Chest and the willing and generous people who lovingly give $34 a month to sponsor a child... this child... these children.
And this is where the angels in heaven stop for just a moment... this is where everything changes for several intense moments. This is where many on our team have to turn their backs as they release sobs from deep within... this is where the 200+ children who are beneath the tree of the "have nots" come rushing towards us for anything left. After two hours of sitting... waiting... and watching... raw survival instincts overcome these precious ones and the heavens cry.
Eyes are looking, pleading, begging. Feet are rushing. Arms are pushing and voices are raised. Hunger become personified and becomes flesh.
And in what seems so unlikely, it takes only the presence of a stick to direct them back to their tree.
(I must emphasize GREATLY that this stick, this small stick, was never used on a child. It was only picked up off the ground and shown. I mean look at it. I was amazed and humbled to the core that just the image was enough to restore order. The one holding the stick LOVES these children with compassion and dedication we can not even begin to comprehend. He lives there and loves them every day. But when chaos erupts, the children are in danger, and the image of the stick worked. :0)
As they walked back to their tree, I was so overcome. We had left overs... no posho... just some extra beans... enough to feed about 12 children. Twelve. 12. Out of hundreds. My tears came from the deepest places and I knew THIS would be one of my most important stories to share. I found comfort in knowing that God would bring beauty from these ashes. This moment would be used for His glory!
Precious Agnes, our female discipler there, would take the responsibility of going over to the tree and making the choices. She would choose who would get some food today... some left over beans. And one by one... she chooses the smallest ones... the ones who had been most shoved and trampled. As her very body was battling Malaria for the third time, she walked over with a tiny reed in her hand and made choices that none of us could imagine making.
And here they stand... looking in the almost empty pot to see if there really is anything left.
And in God's grace... there was... something left.
And then there was the last bowl of the day.
And there remained hundreds of hungry children...
who could be given a meal every day...
for just $34 a month.
And here is where God's provision multiplies.
Children who are not yet sponsored but have been profiled got a meal.
God takes the $34 of the sponsor families and uses that to feed all 250 children in the program.
And then He provides some left over to feed a few that have not been profiled.
Just think what God could do in this community if we were able to not only get all 250 children who have been profiled sponsored... but all the children under both trees!
Children who are too young for the program could be fed.
More disciplers, who teach them of God's love and the word, could be hired.
Teachers could be given more support.
School books could be purchased.
Desks could be made/purchased.
Grandmothers, widows, raising many orphans, could be helped.
The first aid box could be stocked and small wounds would not turn into massive infections.
Children could be taught skills and crafts.
Teens could go to high school.
Community gardens could flourish.
Hope could explode and life could flourish instead of try to survive.
Thirty four dollars... a month... for all of that.
Three large one topping pizzas- $34
One dinner for four at Moe's- $34
One pair of pants on sale at Ann Taylor- $34
One week worths of Starbucks for many people- $34
Three bottles of cheap wine- $34
Two music cd's- $34
One pair of tennis shoes- $34
This happened there today and it will happen again tomorrow.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:9-11~
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. He sets the lonely in families..." Psalm 68:5,6~
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27~
Please let me know if you are interested in becoming a part of God's light reaching out to this community.
(note: the first day we were there, as a treat, the children were given rice instead of posho. They also receive meat once a week on Saturday. Sunday... there is no meal.)