1.29.2015

Life Isn't Meant to be Lived All in One Place

Several years ago when I first met my friend Danielle, God began preparing my heart for the trip of a lifetime and relationships that would forever change the way I see and define love. He planted a seed in my heart that could only be watered and grown in a tiny little country called Swaziland, Africa.

I wrote about it some and desperately attempted to convey my feelings about the trip in a few published posts but really struggled to share the things I so intensely wanted to. So I kept them in the drafts folder and continued to write...but more importantly? Continued to pray. About what God wanted me to share and what He wanted to keep between Him and I along with that tiny little country I fell head over heels in love with.

Before committing to the team and trip, I scoured the Children's Hopechest website for a child to sponsor. There were several children in need of sponsorship, but no matter how much I prayed about it, I felt God saying, "just wait."


Hearing those words frustrated me beyond belief. "Just wait?" I want one now. I want to have a sponsor child to meet when I arrive! Looking back, I cannot believe how selfishly ignorant I was being. Oh, how I wish I had realized that this part of the story -- this chapter -- was not about me. Oh, I wish I had realized that it is never about me.

After travel delays, switched flights, and layovers in places I never expected to be (Amsterdam and Ghana, HOLLA!), we arrived in South Africa. I got to shower for the first time in days and eat something other than airplane food (which would make any American giddy). As I was getting out of the shower, I'd realized I hadn't even shampooed my hair because I was in such a hurry to get out. I wanted to get on the road so we could get to the guest house we'd be staying at for the remainder of the trip. I wanted to be one step closer to meeting the children I'd been praying for and about for so many months. "Just wait," He kept whispering to my spirit.


The first day was a whirlwind as our team got to know one another better, crossed the boarder to Swaziland, and got settled into the guest house where we would be staying. I spent a lot of time praying that night before sleeping like a rock and waking up to what I remember being the best day of my life thus far. Finally, our first day at the carepoint had arrived.

I vividly remembering pulling up to the carepoint and watching the children run to the fence to wave -- so full of joy and anticipation at the thought of meeting us, holding our hands, and sitting on our laps. It was so evident that these children loved without restriction. They were not choosy or stingy about whose hand they were holding or whose hair they were stroking. Though I'd never been to Swaziland before, there was something oddly familiar about the immense love, unexplainable peace, and overwhelming joy I felt being there.

That's when it hit me. Interacting with the children and watching the children interact with each other reminded me so much of the elaborate love of our Father in Heaven. Their innocence reminded me of the perfect, sinless sacrifice that Jesus was. My heart was broken, changed, mended, and filled over and over again that day and in the days to come. God was evident in each and every moment.



It was that day that I met my sweet Nontsikelelo -- a petite 10 year old with the most beautiful smile, sweetest laugh, and passion for school. She clung to my hand and side for majority of the day and shared her story with me. We talked about family, school, her dreams, and everything in between right down to discovering that we both shared a love for the color yellow. "It is so bright," she said. Oh, sweet girl, how bright you are.

The next day, we spent more time with one another and continued to enjoy each other's company and encouragement. Around dinnertime, we said our "see you tomorrow's" and went our separate ways. Just as our team was about to leave, Nontsikelelo came up behind me, tapped me on the arm, and handed me a piece of paper. "I have almost forgotten to give you your letter!" she said.


As she ran off and started down the path to go home (wherever home might be) I unfolded the piece of paper she had given me as tears began to stream down my face. Her words. Her handwriting. Her drawings. Her thoughtfulness. How worth it being obedient to "just wait," felt. How present God had been and continues to be.

In the days following, Nontsikelelo and I continued to laugh and sing and pray together. She brought some of her schoolwork to show me, I got to show her pictures of my family and friends here in America. As our time together came to a close, saying goodbye made me weep as I have never wept before. As we hugged one last time, she whispered, "I have been praying for a special friend for so long. You are my special friend and I love you!" Though the two of us are from what seems like two entirely different worlds -- and though those two "worlds" are so incredibly far apart, God's care and perfect will brought us together in a way that has forever changed and deepened the way I breathe, live, think, and pray.


It's funny, isn't it? How difficult the waiting is. How overbearing it can feel and how weary we can become when God asks us to do something while our flesh so desperately wants to do another. How much the journey matters. How one day things fall into place and the purpose of the process is revealed to us in such a marvelous way that leaves us breathless and saying, "only God," if we can manage to say anything at all.

Nontsikelelo is now my special sponsor child! I receive a stack of letters and coloring pages from her occasionally and everyday I look at her photo hanging on my bulletin board, I am reminded of God's faithfulness to and patience with us when we are, what seems, utterly impossible. On tough days when the world is so clearly baring its ugly teeth of stress and unfairness and tragedy, I am reminded of the ways that His goodness CAN be seen in this world if only we choose to fix our eyes on the eternal perspective He calls us to have.


I need to be reminded of that goodness. I need photos of this beautiful little spirit covering my walls. I need verses and quotes hung on my bathroom mirror, above my bed, and on my room door. When my heart longs to be back with the people I met in Swaziland, when it hurts to see how unfair this world can be, and when it aches to do something more...I need to be reminded.

{map art c/o Hip Little Squares}

Those reminders come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They come in forms of people, places, memories, and words. This vintage map by my new friend Denise and her precious Etsy shop Hip Little Squares is one of those reminders. A reminder I need

I need to be reminded that loving and living and laughing...it all comes at a cost. A beautiful, beautiful cost already paid in full by a wonderful Savior who will one day, in the renewal of ALL things, beckon us home to be with Him in a much happier and pain free place. But until then, until the day we reach the gates of Heaven, life isn't meant to be lived all in one place.

Image Map

4 comments:

Colleen said...

Beautiful. There are no words other than beautiful.

Susanne S said...

She is so beautiful!! And how fantastic that you can help kids in this way.

Amanda aka Manda said...

This is why I love your heart! So beautiful! Can't wait for the trip that you get to go back ans see your sweet sponsored girl!

Kenzie Smith said...

This is absolutely beautiful. YOU are absolutely beautiful. I love that you were able to go on this trip. You are such an inspiration ♥