Continued from Part I...
The team climbed back up the hill from the home we had just visited.
Several little girls from the neighborhood skipped along at my side. One stopped to point to my ladybug tattoo and tried to rub it off. We all giggled. I made the girls and the two ladies who had joined us turn those giggles into bursts of laughter when I imitated a little 3 year old girl as she skipped along, arms swinging, totally lost in blissful joy. I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight, but it was such a happy moment, and those around me joined in that happiness.
For the past year, I've been living with intentional joy, joy that is not rooted in circumstances, and I've been told over and over again that it's a radical concept, hard to comprehend, harder still to live out and achieve... I look at this sweet little girl with dark hair in pigtails bouncing as she skipped, and I know that it's not radical, it's the gospel... it stems from childlike faith.
Children grow up with hearts open to faith, to God -- it's the world around them that teaches them poverty of the heart. It's the world that teaches them that they are not complete, that they're not valued or special, that they should hurry up and grow up, shut up and put up, that they shouldn't be happy... these precious children had a difficult start, but the effects are being reversed as they're shown that they are everything God meant for them to be, that they are valued and special, that their youth is precious and should be enjoyed, that their thoughts and words have meaning, that they have rights, and that their joy is a gift not rooted in their circumstances.
When we approached the project, laughter and joyous shouts filled the air. The kids were all wrapped up into a game of... uhm... something!
While they were playing, some of the advocates and leaders set up a beauty parlor outside in the shade, so that we could spend some time getting to know the kids one on one.
Someone brought out the bubbly, even the men couldn't resist...
The mom of these sweet girls wandered over to see what we were up to, and ended up getting her nails done as well, which gave her such a boost.
She was so excited. So was this little gal!
And this one...
This was my little buddy, Marjorie -- such a beautiful, quiet, sweet little girl. She wasn't saying much at first, didn't want to join in very much, but she warmed up pretty fast.
Even a few boys wandered over, curious...
We taught the kids to share by dipping the wand and having the a friend blow the bubbles, the kids were eager to play together. That's another thing I've never seen in these projects, kids fighting over something. They all appreciate what they have, and they're willing to share.
It was Julia's birthday, so we convinced the kids to gather around and sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, it was awesome!! I wish I could have recorded the memory on video.
All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to our new friends.
As we were leaving, I took one last look at the project wall... On the walls were the hand prints representing each of the children who attend this project. When the sponsors visit, the sponsor signs their sponsored child's hand print. It was beautiful to see that several sponsors had visited their children, and to see the hand prints of so many children represented here.
Young children are at the prime of their life, when they have the most potential to be reached, taught, shaped and molded in ways that impact their future and the lives of those around them. Only 23% of adults accept Christ as their savior during adulthood. The most impact is made in children's ministries, because the harvest yields the best results when focused on children while they are young. In the words of Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, "Young children are like wet cement, what happens in their early life makes an imprint that then shapes the rest of their lives."
Each of these hand prints on the wall of this project reminds me of the imprint that Compassion, the church, the sponsors, the people praying for them and working with them is making on these children's hearts, in their lives, in their crucial years.
What if.... what if every child on earth had that chance... the chance to receive a positive imprint in their lives while the cement was still wet?