We sit on cushions on the floor around a tablecloth spread out in the middle. Plates, dishes, bowls, bottles, thermos flasks, trays, all laden with food and drink. A feast laid out for all guests who may come, laid out in order to share our celebration of the coming of that baby who became our saviour. Conversations are going on around the room, some deeply involved, some producing laughter, and others simply commenting on the food. I look up as she comes into the room, and walks sedately to the nearest seat. My face lights up, and my heart expands with joy. I am so glad to see her, having been unsure whether she would have permission to come or not. I run over to her.
Meeting her where she stands I kiss her on the cheek several times over and hug her tightly. “I am SO glad you came! Thank you so much for coming! I wanted to see you so much since I have been back.” She turns so her back was to the crowd and I see a tear roll down her cheek. She takes my hands in hers and says to me with disbelief in her eyes “No-one has ever wanted to see me that much. You are my sister. Thank you.” Words fail me, I hug her again. As we part I invite her deeper inside the room to sit at the place of honor.
I pour her tea and offer her cakes, and nuts and fruit, I ask her how her life is, how she is finding being married, if she is happy. She does not look directly at me but answers my questions in the way she should “Life is good, it is good to be married, I am happy, thank you, how are you?, God is kind.” I look at her, really look at her, as she answers me and I see sadness in her eyes and brokenness. We continue talking, all sorts of meaningless topics are covered, I encourage others to join our conversation. We drink tea and eat snacks.
The afternoon moves on and we play games. In a culture where games are seldom played, where the concept of doing something for pure enjoyment is foreign, we spend time playing, spend time ushering joy into their lives. I watch as her sadness slowly melts away, if only for the moments she is with us. I hear all the laughter, the squeals of delight, the excited chatter, a sound and sight so alien from these people, and my own heart is filled with joy. To see them forget about all that is outside that room. To see them feeling comfortable, safe, peaceful, joyful, excited, happy. I am overwhelmed that He has given me the privilege of helping His joy touch their lives, of giving me the opportunity to see this moment, to have this memory.
The afternoon comes to an end. I find that girl, young lady now. There are remnants of happiness written in the lines of her face, there is still a sense of relaxation and peace about her. I hug her and kiss her goodbye. This time the tear is mine. A tear of knowing that as she walks out of the door her face will soon begin to tell a different story again.
She takes my hand and pulls me into a side room. She rolls up her sleeves and lifts up her top just enough for me to see the bruises that riddle her body. She says no words but looks at me. Words fail me also, I look back into her eyes. I wish there was something I could do, but there is not. She speaks “Thank you for today, will you come and see me another day? Please?” I promise nothing but I say I will try. I take her face in my hands and look at her and say all I know to say, “I will pray for you, God is kind.” She thanks me.
I watch as she walks away and do just that. I go before her maker, and her saviour, and ask him to be merciful, to be her saviour, to rescue his creation.
Hello! I know I have been absent for a very long time… sorry. My internet is struggling at the moment and is too slow to blog from. My sweet friend Lindsey is posting the next few days up for me, and in trying to not overload her with things, I’m still graphic-less. You’re just going to have to get over that!
Let’s kick-off being back with a Merry Mondays post… email me with your lists or comment below! I love getting them :o)
I am thankful for:
1. Hot water bottles… they are life-savers on cold, cold nights.
2. Friends who give up time to update my blog for me.
3. Being back here, in my heart-land.
4. My team who are like family. Love them.
5. Being able to remember much of my language.
6. All the amazing time I’ve been able to spend with people here.
7. A joy-full Christmas.
8. Good health.
9. Being able to Skype with my whole family on Christmas Day.
10. Children playing in the snow, their laughter and enjoyment.
Looking forward to:
1. Spending more time with local friends.
2. Seeing ideas come together.
3. Spending time together with my team.
4. Pipes unfreezing and getting running water again (hopefully)
5. Taking a shower and washing my hair.
6. Having a certain family over for dinner.
7. Emails – sending and receiving.
8. Taking more photos and film.
9. Getting mail from my brothers (hopefully)
10. Just being here.
What about you? What are you thankful for? What’s happening this week for you?
I step off the plane, headphones firmly in my ears, my MP3 player blasting worship songs into my ears. I walk down those steps, the slippery metal ones, with puddles of melted snow and slush that gleam in the sunlight. My foot touches hard, dusty, soil and it hits me. My breath gets caught in my throat and my heart stops for a second. I stand still for a moment and drink in all those racing emotions surging through my body.
I feel the bitter cold against my skin, I breathe in the dusty breeze, I smell the burning fires attempting to heat buildings and homes, I let the soot floating in the air fill my nose, I see the guns, and the helicopters, and war-planes. I hear voices speaking harshly in a language other than my mother-tongue, but a language I am oh, so, familiar with. I let it all soak in for a moment. I have come back. I have returned to my heart-land and my aching heart feels ok once more.
The music cuts through my dazed thoughts and feelings. I’m filled with awe and wonder at this God, this Healer, this Saviour, this Redeemer, this Author, who would allow me to return here, allow me the privilege of walking on this ground, of seeing these faces, of hearing this mix of languages, of sharing life with this nation. Tears spring to my eyes, I cannot help it for I am so overwhelmed by the moment. Overwhelmed that He has authored this moment into my story.
I take hold of the black handle of my case and start to walk toward the terminal building, case dragging behind me, wheels of no real benefit on this dusty, unpaved, pot-hole-ridden ground. I let the music fill my being.
“Spirit break out,
Break our walls down.
Spirit break out,
Heaven come down.”
I start a conversation with my maker, with THEIR maker. “Is it possible? Will you break out? Can you break out here?”
I look around the hall filled of people queuing to pass through passport control. I see the heavily covered women, I see the men in turbans, tunics trailing to the ground. I look at the faces of the women and I see their lifeless eyes, their hopelessness, their hunched backs speaking of oppression. They exude brokenness and I can almost feel their pain. I sneak a quick glance at the men. Their faces tell the same story, of loss, of brokenness, of resignation.
My heart breaks afresh. I know I shouldn’t show emotion, but I let the tears that escaped freely roll down my cheeks. I continue the silent conversation going on inside me. “Please, please would you break out? You are needed in this place desperately, you are the only answer here. Come, break out, please.” The lyrics fill my ears once more.
“King Jesus, you’re the name we’re lifting high;
Your glory, shaking up the earth and skies;
Revival, we want to see your kingdom here.”
The melody and words are on the tip of my tongue, their expression filling my mouth. I want to sing it out, shout it out, scream it out. Declare that He is the name that is being lifted high; that His kingdom will come, and that we long to see it. I know I must keep silent, I must purse my lips and keep any sound from escaping. I stay silent and instead, there, in the middle of that hall, surrounded by those people, I allow my mind to scream it out to my heart, and my heart to echo it back to my mind. I allow the Spirit inside me to listen and to carry those cries to the throne room.
Next in line, I pull the headphones out of my ears and hang them around my neck. I take a deep breath in preparation for what is on the other side of the border control. I prepare my self to face whatever crazies may lay ahead.
It’s my turn. I step forward. I leave the music playing as a sort of silent protest, as a way of letting truth ring out through the corridors that I walk, in hope that maybe by having this worship playing The Spirit will break out.
He looks down at my passport and back up at my face. I hear the music so faintly only one who knew it was there and was listening hard would hear it. I hear the words echoing out.
“The heavens will roar
Your people will sing
For nothing compares to your glory”
My heart resounds with a great “Amen!”
I enter the country.