I had set in my mind this afternoon that I would simply stop by my friends in the village houses for a quick visit and then come home and work on my computer in the afternoon. But, as we all know, nothing is “quick” in Africa. I walked down the narrow dirt pathway to my favorite little area in the village. Hanging laundry hit me in the face as I walked there clumsily, tripping over rocks and speaking broken KiSwahili to the people I passed. We rescued three of our girls from this area. Their birth families have now become some of my closest friends.
About an hour later after sitting with some of my friends, kissing many snotty babies and speaking even more broken KiSwahili I found myself sitting in the home of a new friend, Mama ke Katzo. I sat there in the mud hut surrounded by the smell of local beer, men shooting heroin next to me, a gorgeous baby in my lap and I looked down at my lunch. I love how the poor always feed me even when they can’t feed themselves. Lunch was sima (a stable food in many countries, its white soft stuff you eat with your hands), a nice pile of salt, and a one small fish. Even in Mozambique this was one of my favorite meals… minus the pile of salt of course.
I started to eat. One of my small friends (she is three) was eagerly dipping her dirty hands into my plate and grabbing handfuls for herself. She was hungry and this was likely all she would eat all day. I was happy because they always serve me huge portions that I never want to finish, so I was glad to have some help. At one point she dipped those dirty hands into the fish bowl, yanked the poor fish’s head off and carried it across the tiny room to our friend Kelsey. Kelsey is a baby, not quite one years old. Kelsey happily grabbed the head and before stuffing it in her mouth she held it out and laughed with such joy! It was as if the head was a trophy or a gold medal she’d won! I couldn’t help but join in on her laughter which made Mwanajuma (the three yr old) start laughing and Kelsey’s mother was quick to follow suite. We all laughed joy filled laughs from our bellies. Light and joy filled the room.
Soon after we got up and my friend walked me to the road. I looked back at the dirt house, the heroin addicts completely toppled over by this point, the old mamas sitting outside and selling potatoes, and I thought about little Kelsey and the fish head. I smiled. I laughed. I walked away with a new pep in my step. What was so glorious about a dead fish’s head? Well, nothing really. But the simplicity of me and my friends, sitting and loving and laughing, and holding dead fishes heads-the simplicity of the gospel- well, that was absolutely glorious!
I smile as I think about the simplicity of the gospel, the simplicity of love, because our daughter, Serah, should be the poster child for it. She has definitely got it down. When out loving the poor I often just step back and watch the love and generosity of Jesus flow so purely from her little heart. Our family took a little vacation for the girls’ spring break last week. We went to visit a friend of ours who is starting a new ministry base in the bush. One afternoon Serah asked me, “Mama, can we go visit some houses”. I told her of course we could, and before we left the house she wrapped a leso ( traditional piece of clothing kind of like a wrap you wear at the beach) around her waist and slipped her light blue flip flops on her feet. We walked through the bush and found a few little mud houses we stopped at and greeted people. The last home we visited had many children. We sat and talked and played with them. As we were walking away we noticed we had a small crowd of sweet little ones with bare feet following us. We continued to walk along, the kids followed with shy smiles on their faces, Serah went on and on about how we must come back to this village and give all of our stuff away to the poor. I listened and smiled as this, our little princess in the dirt, poured out her heart for the poor. When we reached the house we were staying in we had to say goodbye to the kids. But before we did Serah took off her blue flip flops and gave them to one of the barefoot little precious ones following us. The girl smiled and said shyly “asante” which means thank you. Serah smiled and walked toward the house with a new pep in her newly barefoot step. Glory. There it was again. The gospel is simple. It looks like bare feet and blue flip flops.
Joy and I went to see our oldest daughter (the one who left Bella House) on Tuesday afternoon. For two hours. Not long enough. I guess some things are quick in Africa.
I was looking down at my phone while waiting for her to arrive at the bus stop when I heard that sweet voice say excitedly “Mom!”. I looked up to see her. My heart melted. The familiar feeling of home washed over me. She had braids. Green and black ones. It made me happy because green is her favorite color. Two hours later after hugs, kisses, and deep conversation about Jesus, life, and prostitution it was time to say goodbye. I held her as she laid her head on my right shoulder and wept. Her green braids were in my face and her cold tears fell onto my arm. I held her and I just prayed “Jesus, Jesus….”. As she walked away she looked different. I felt sad, yes. But I smiled because I felt happy at the same time. Because glory, His glory. It’s still there even when the story hasn’t quite reached its happy ending yet. And even when we are at the part of the story when our daughter who we rescued willingly went back to a horrific life, when its easy to focus on the night clubs and mini skirts and johns, I have to remember to look where the glory is. In this case, the green weave. She still has a favorite color. That hasn’t and never will be stolen from her. Glory!