I go through phases in my life, especially now, where I have to stop and check myself. To check my heart. It feels like I’m stopping to check and make sure I’m still human. I get so “used” to stories that really should not be stories you get used to. This Christmas I felt very much like my heart was stuck in this place of “can I actually feel anything?” I wrote some friends a quick update on the security situation here… as I wrote, I typed out and told them it didn’t really “feel like Christmas”. But as I wrote that, I thought to myself, “what is Christmas supposed to feel like?”
I miss my family. I miss my friends… but I love my life here. I love passing my days with all my new friends who amaze me with their strength, courage and joy. I love going to the market, the fabric shops, the bakery and the people know me by my name. But even with all this familiarity, it still didn’t feel like “Christmas”. So what is Christmas supposed to feel like? Weather… does weather make it Christmas? It’s very warm right now. It’s our “summer”, but still, the weather doesn’t fluctuate much. Just rainy and not rainy. So is it the weather that keeps it from feeling like Christmas. Nope. I’ve been listening to Christmas music (Kelly, Heather, Jenny, Jess… don’t fall out of your chair. I know that’s a surprise) since October trying to prepare myself emotionally for Christmas. Still, not “feeling” it.
Friday before Christmas, I invited some street kids to church, they agreed and were really excited. Sunday morning when I went to get them, they were nowhere to be found. But Thomas, a different street kid whom I love, was there and was more than excited to come with us. He got to shower at the center and he got some new clothes. He also was not shy to stand up in front of 300+ people (first time visitors introduce themselves) and he introduced me as his mama. He was so cute. After service, the church headed over to “LOVE” orphanage for the party with the kids.
The kids getting ready to sing and dance to welcome our church.
This cuteness is unbearable. (ps. She got those sunglasses for Christmas that morning).
These are the kids I talked about in my last post. They were eating 3/week. Through donations brought in by Kelly, local church members, and myself, these kids will now eat everyday! Amen! (We are still looking for sustainable solutions to bring in local provision for them). Keep in mind, I had not been to the orphanage in one week. When I walked through the door, the kids rushed me,
“welcome mama Jenni!!!”
“bisous Jenni, bisous!” (they know I love to give kisses)
…all yelling my name with giant smiles and coming in strong for hugs and kisses. I almost cried (but I did actually fall as they hug-rushed me). Here I am, part of our local church coming to make these kids feel special for Christmas, but instead, I felt like the most special person in the world to them. How do they all remember my name?! It surprises me time and time again how “kids” or “people” God calls us to care for or “help” are the ones that are caring for my heart. I just thought… this is it. This is Christmas. I’m not called here because I have so much to offer anyone here. I’m called here because God wants us to do this life together. To love, encourage and build up one another. They are malnourished, some are covered in different skin fungus, the baby I picked up was full of pee… but God used them to speak to me, to reach my heart.
getting rushed at the entrance
This little guy ran up to Esther and his pants just slide right down. He didn’t care, he wanted a hug!
…me talking to the kids for the meaning of Christmas.
ps. the little guy I’m holding rushed me when I got there and wanted to stay with me the entire time. I tired to put him down and he climbed right back up. He also was REALLY getting down to the music for a while there!
I was supposed to tell the kids a Christmas story… we don’t want to show up and give food to feed them physically and not give them something to feed them emotionally and spiritually. Sunday morning, I read some of the Christmas story and I thought to myself, “what am I supposed to say to these kids today?!”. In the US I could say: “can you imagine being rejected from a safe place, born in a barn, laying in a manger filled with straw.?!” Of course we can’t easily imagine. But if I asked those questions of these kids… yes, they absolutely can imagine being rejected by a safe place, sleeping in less than sanitary places, sleeping on the ground or in a barn or with animals. It changes things. So rather, I just talked to them about the gift that is Christmas. They had received toys and gifts that morning from “mama noel” (Dr. Yark, dressed up in festive Christmas clothes and Kelly as the adorable little elf in a floral dress!). Christmas isn’t what we get, or what we give. It’s celebrating the gift that was given already, the birth of Jesus.
me and big Sifa holding Dr. Yark’s baby boy and me holding Soukie.
Pascal, one of our Generation Hope kids, whom I adore, feeding one of the little guys at the orphanage.
The newest member of the orphanage was abandoned in the hospital. He’s a fighter. 3 months and only about triple the size of ray ban sunglasses.
I have to also say… Thomas (the street kid who came with us to church) was awesome! Our kids program came to play with the kids at the orphanage. They were told to pick a kid and learn their name, play with them and get them food, juice and cookies. He didn’t skip a beat. He saw a little girl standing alone, he went up and took her hand, had her come sit with him, talked to her, then went and got her food. After he was certain she was situated, he got his food. I almost cried, again (I almost cried a lot).
Thomas is in the top left, black t-shirt with his cute little friend to the right in a little pink dress.
You can see he was quite comfortable and didn’t feel the need to stick by my side. I was feeding Soukie, she wouldn’t eat her veggies unless I hid them with the rice.
So that was Christmas. It didn’t “feel like Christmas” leading up to it, but after passing the day with people I love, loving on people and feeling loved by people who don’t usually get very much attention…I realized this is exactly what Christmas is supposed to feel like. I miss my friends and family stateside (and in Haiti), but God has completely provided for me here with new family. I hope everyone else had as amazing a day as I did.
Christmas lunch… from our family to yours! Camille, Esther, me, Lauren and Kelly. (Not pictured: Vicky, who was at the hospital taking care of a friend).
Much love from Goma