Today, I have been covered in feces and urine and blood.
I killed 5 chickens. I prayed for healing and provision over a grandmother who is caring for herself and 3 abandoned children she took in with only 30 emalengeni ($3) a month. I carried an HIV positive child reeking of urine in the khombi for his first car ride to get medical treatment. I got a silent baby to giggle and chat up a storm. I watched a red moon rise. I held the hands of 5 children at once, with more fighting to loop their arms through mine. I taught a lesson for the older children, and one of them even complimented me. I shot photos of kids and let others shoot my photo on a cellphone camera–some of whom may never have one of their own. I spoke some English with a young girl with Down Syndrome, who also happens to have the best smiles and hugs I have ever seen or felt. I met a friend’s sponsor and was able to communicate how deeply loved he is. I enjoyed a sunset so much I forgot to take a picture before the sun had sunken below the tree line.
I held the sponsor of another friend (and previous team member) as he cried, asking when his sponsor was coming back, and I cried with him.
Today, I am invincible.
A few older girls asked if I remembered them from last year–and of course I did. It totally made their day when I commented how sad I was that I haven’t seen them dance yet, because it showed I really did remember them. And they remembered the song I taught them a year ago: oh happy day, happy day, You washed my sin away. Oh happy day, happy day, I’ll never be the same. Over and over they sang that chorus and danced along. Finally I asked, “Bosisi, do you know why we are so happy?” They shook their heads no, and I explained: it is a happy day because Jesus has died and come back to life to save us! It is a happy day because our sins have been washed away, and we will never be the same because we have the love of Jesus in our hearts!” I watched light bulbs go on as they connected the lyrics with the hope they have.
Today, my cheeks hurt from smiling and my eyes are tired from crying and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Today was so bittersweet: We were able to bless the woman and three children living on 30 emalengeni a month with cooking staples, sweeties and stuffed animals, but we learned that not even she is the poorest or most destitute in the community. We gave medical treatment to nearly two hundred children, but there were those we had to turn away. One friend’s sponsor child, Ncamiso, was so happy to meet me, he kissed me goodbye–innocently, on the cheek, as did several other boys, when yesterday they ran from me as I planted kisses on little ones and made kissy noises in their direction.
Today is one of those days when I don’t need affirmation from anyone because I already know how loved I am. These kids are so loving and compassionate. They may not say I love you with their words, but they say it unmistakably with their actions. It’s so backwards from the way we show our love in the States. All too often, we pass along empty, forced I love you’s and never act on real, Christ-like love and I do not understand and this is why I do not want to leave Swaziland. There is so much love here, my heart is bursting. At the end of each day, I get into the khombi with a heart so full I can feel it and I am smiling. I wish everyone could experience this amount of earthly love once in his or her life…I think it would cause such a craving for authentic affection that this fake love we pass around would disappear entirely and we could love like Jesus loves. Until then, I rock crying babies and hold sticky hands and cry for sick babies and children desperate for love. Most of all, I pray. I pray until my knees are the color of Swazi dirt because it is the only thing I have left, my only defense against the things of this world. I pray because it is thw only weapon that will win wars. I pray because my Savior says this:
Do not be afraid of that which threatens you, for the time will come when everything that is hidden will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known. What I tell you now in darkness, shout abroad when daylight comes. What I whisper, shout from the rooftops for all to hear! Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body: they cannot touch your soul.
And so I pray. I pray, because it is the only weapon that will win wars. I pray because my Father’s power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is only in him that I am invincible.