September 12, 2009


[A brief look back to a busy, busy day in July...]

Yesterday the world was spinning faster than I had experienced for a long time. I am learning to say “despera por favor” with a smile. “Please wait…”

Needs to be met. Issues to be faced. Problems to be solved. Questions to which I must respond… now! Phones to be
answered, again and again and again. There are days when I juggle three phones at once. I have learned to hold two conversations at the same time; after all, I have two ears and two hands.

Yesterday there were plans to be finalised, messages to be delivered, money to be sorted, accommodation to be organised, directions to be given, vehicles to be coordinated, transport to the airport for 37 people all at once… hugs, thanks, goodbyes… oh no, I forgot to find the lost suitcase! As the day progressed and the world turned faster and faster, my head began to spin with it. I wondered how to do everything that needed to be done without dropping the ball, my bundle or the many papers I was carrying around to reassure me that I was on top of everything.

I headed for the Baby House to deliver a message. The plan was to be in and out in a moment. No time for distractions or play or loving on babies today.

Within seconds, I’d delivered my message but Lourenco had spotted me. I began to back out the door. He ran towards me, gathering momentum even as his feet tripped over each other. He leaned forward precariously as I began to turn away, his arms wide and face beaming even as I thought, “I don’t have time for you today.” As he reached me, he fell into my arms and I I instinctively swung him into the air. Somehow my day was hijacked by the smile of a precious babe.

To think, I almost missed it.

As I held him, he placed one tiny hand on each of my shoulders and turned his head, leaning his cheek firmly against mine. I felt his little body relax as he leaned against me. His breathing began to slow and deepen.

My day’s agenda faded as I held him close. I began to sing quietly to him, “Yes, Jesus loves you…” as his arms loosened and his hands dropped from my shoulders. The echoing noise of thirty children playing within the concrete walls of the Baby House faded as I focused on this one beautiful boy wanting a few moments of my attention.

Lourenco has no mother to rock him to sleep at night, no father to swing him high in the air and catch him as he squeals with delight. He has spent the first two years of his life without a family to remind him that he is loved and he is special and that there is hope for him to be all that he wants to be in his life.

Yesterday, for a few moments he had me. It is not enough but it is something. Somehow my heart was hijacked, just for awhile, by a toddler innocent enough despite his losses to still believe that a hug is enough. He stirred an instinct in me so viscerally powerful that it took my breath away. To hold an orphan seeking love is worship of the highest order.

And so I surrendered, my heart taken captive by the guileless trust of a child. He knew that, as he ran and toppled in my direction, my arms would catch him and lift him high. This babe who has no earthly reason to trust, trusted me. It is why we are here: to catch them before they fall and lift them as high as we possibly can, holding them there until they can soar on their own.

For a few moments yesterday, the world stopped spinning, my heart stopped racing and rest took me over. I breathed out the busyness of the day as I sang over him. He was being filled and refreshed by love, even as his tiny body relaxing in my arms was refreshing me.

I swayed gently and continued to sing as he leaned his head back and his eyes gazed at my lips singing life over him. My back found the wall and I slowly slipped down and onto the cool concrete floor, babe in arms. His eyes drooped and closed and he fell asleep. All the riotous noise of thirty children faded into the background as I gazed at his sleeping face and thanked God for reminding me why I am here – to stop for the one.

“The one” in this moment was a toddler needing a cuddle. Perhaps the one tomorrow will be a Mozambican tia needing a smile or a staff member a word of encouragement for all the work he does. Perhaps it is, as today, one of the 60 or so visitors wandering the Centre, their hearts being stirred for a harvest field so ripe that they can smell the richness of the crop as they walk through the sand, praying and laughing and loving on our children.

Today, Lourenco’s soul needed refueling, as did mine. He reminded me to slow down, to breathe, and to stop for awhile. As he slept in my arms, I poured love into him with my touch and my words and my prayers. I quietly thanked God for these moments, for using the outstretched arms of a toddler to draw me aside from the busyness of my day, reminding me that He leads me beside still waters and He restores my soul. I could so easily have missed it. Even on the busiest of days, He is my Restorer - and Lourenco’s.

Half an hour later and the world was no longer spinning, my heart no longer racing and my head now thinking more clearly about the next steps to take in this day full of challenges. I whispered my thanks to this little boy for giving me more than I could possibly give back to him. I handed him carefully to a tia and slipped away, walking more gently now, back into a day filled with opportunities to serve, one person at a time, with a smile.

“…ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer 6:16

September 5, 2009


Finally! Blogger is allowing me to upload again. Forgive my five-month silence and thank you for the gentle - and the not-so-gentle - prompts to keep writing. A day feels incomplete to me until I have poured some words out as my soul seeks to make sense of the world in which I am living.

Now, here, in a land so different from the one in which I have spent most of my life, I need to write more than ever before. As I write, I hold circumstances with all their attendant joys and sorrows up to the brightness of the sun. I peer closely to find meaning in each shifting glint. As I construct sentences and paragraphs, revisiting events and conversations of the day, I glean meaning from the state of affairs that stretch my soul each day. I seek to discard the chaff and, hopefully, retain the nourishing life lessons that shift me closer to being all I can be, giving all that I can give.

There are days when the arrogance of my human soul astounds me as I attempt to draw logical understanding from unutterable suffering. Mostly, there is no sense to be made. On other days, when my soul is tired and needs to rest from trying to understand all it witnesses, I rest from thinking and I just feel. Oh what a relief that is! Even when the feelings are deep and painful and shake me to the core, it is a relief to lay down my need to understand.

I am learning just to be. I am seeking to master the art of breathing slowly and deeply through each minute and each circumstance, no matter what comes my way. I have entrusted my soul to someone greater and my circumstances to the goodness of the God who designed me for the life I have been called to live. Ah the peace in trusting!

Since my last post, life has moved apace as it only can in Mozambique. I have watched again and again as friends and coworkers grieve the deaths of friends and family members. I have witnessed three Mozambican marriages, welcomed several new babies into the Zimpeto family, moved house for the fourth time this year, sadly farewelled old friends and welcomed new ones.

I had my first run-in with a shapa (public minivan) as its driver tried to squeeze between my vehicle and the truck coming in the opposite direction. The shapa driver was obviously a man of faith – after all, faith is being sure of what we do not see: he tried to get his vehicle through a gap that did not exist and he succeeded. Despite the shapa catching my side mirror, there was no damage to my vehicle. Note to self: never assume two lanes mean two lanes.

Here at the Centre, I continue to struggle with the language, inflicting my appalling but gradually improving grammar on anyone who stops long enough to listen. I will never surrender! The toddlers now occasionally understand and respond to my Portuguese. The teenagers still laugh. Some of the little ones have come close to mastering my name: more “Winda” than Wendy but that’s OK with me, especially when grubby fingers are reaching for a hug while faces beam, content and satisfied and asking for nothing more than a cuddle and a smile. And a song sung to the strumming of my new guitar, sent to me by some school students in Sydney, Australia. Thank you!

Days have turned into weeks and weeks into months as the year flies past. The mild, perfectly pleasant winter is now making way for spring and I am continually challenged to make the most of every moment of my days. And still I can say with all my heart that I would be nowhere else in the world.