January 22, 2012

THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH



Zimpeto’s nursery is small. It is plain and simple and would be considered sparse if it were not such a tiny space in which seven babies and two tias live. Shaded windows, a ceiling fan clicking rhythmically overhead, cool tiled floors and a colour scheme of muted blues and pinks: such a calming contrast to the burning brightness of the Mozambican sun and the orange earth outside its walls. Beyond the grassed postage stamp-sized front yard, the cane├žu fences keep the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Centre and its 250 children away from this sanctuary.

I call the nursery the happiest place on earth.  Here, miracles happen every day. Each time I walk in, peace soaks gently into my soul, my heart stops racing and my mind stills. One moment at a time is all we can deal with here. Priorities shift. Time slows. Nothing exists beyond these walls and these moments. 

It is not possible to be anything but full of joy in this place. Yes, there are struggles and darker days. We have not won every battle. Most of our babies are loved to life and health; some we have loved into the arms of Jesus. Each day is a new day and each baby a miracle waiting to happen. So we continue to believe that God is enough and that, in our frail humanity, He is all we and these precious babes need.
Last week, God brought us five new bundles of gorgeousness, all within days. Five babies under one, all underweight, all hungry.
 
Stick-thin and fragile, Faustina nestles in, too weak to move. At eight months and 3.5kg, she is our most vulnerable right now. I am helpless apart from prayer.
 
Days pass, one heartbeat at a time. Nappies, bottles, sing-song Shangaana lullabies, sleep. Sighs of relief at the end of each long night when Faustina wakes and begins to bleat weakly for food.
 
One week goes by...
 
Today Faustina smiles and giggles. She has gained weight and a little strength. She whines when her bottle empties before she is full. The miracle of life has taken hold and she will come through!
 
To care for the most desperate of all humanity, babies in need, feels to me in my helplessness like a gift - the purest, simplest service of all – humbling me daily as I confront my own frailties and inabilities. I have nothing to offer but love, and prayer, and trust in the Creator of all life.
My own humanity is shaken to the core as I consider the fate that awaited these babies had they not been brought to Zimpeto. One was found in a pile of rubbish in the city; one was deserted at the Mozambique-South Africa border; one was brought by her desperate mother after the hospital discharged the baby as a hopeless cause; another two came from a childcare centre nearby where the director freely acknowledges the extraordinary “success rate” of Zimpeto’s babies.
 
The nursery's four oldest, Silvia, Casilda, Jeremias and Gloria, have now “graduated” happily to the Baby House after several months of visits in preparation for this day.
 
And so may I introduce you to our five newest miracles? Milagrosa’s name means, literally, “Great Miracle”. We also have Rejoice and Inercio, Joseldo and, of course, Faustina who is now world-famous thanks to Facebook and the many prayer requests that have gone out to the nations of the world on her behalf.
 
These five join Xadreque and Shayla who were once as fragile and sick as our newest Zimpeto family members but are now healthy and strong. Day-by-day, heartbeat-by-heartbeat, God heals and restores.

Welcome, precious babes, to the happiest place on earth where miracles happen and dreams really do come true.