Monday, 13 February 2012

just a scarf...

Day 3 - Bogota - or actually just a couple hours drive from  Bogota

Nina Maria

An orphanage unlike any of the others that our team visits.  This one is full of the truly unwanted.  The broken ones.  The ones that even "good parents" don't want around.

They are handicapped.  Mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.

They are beautiful.

Nina Maria is run by the Catholic church, staffed by some of the most compassionate and loving people I have ever met.  Filled with more than 200 "special" people, it is truly a place that needed a visit from 14 Canadians with lots of love to give.


She has been my friend there for the past 3 years.  She is 20 years old, stands about 4 feet tall, long black hair and dark eyes.  She found me within the first few minutes of our arrival.

Last year she took me on a tour of the facility.  I am pretty sure she wasn't supposed to, but the workers at the home weren't about to kick out the visitor from Canada.  I saw humans in their worst possible state.  I had no idea that it could ever be so horrible.  Those mental pictures still haunt me, so I was not wanting to repeat that adventure.

As Karen greeted me she asked if I would like another tour.  Not understanding her I did the dumbest thing a gringo can do.  I said "si".   Thankfully Natalia heard my answer and corrected me immediately and I was spared a second set of nightmares.

Instead we sat together on a cement step and we talked.  Difficult seeing my lack of Spanish and her lack of English, but we managed to talk about the things that were closest to our hearts.

Our children.

She told me of her son - now 7 years old, living with an "otra madre" because she couldn't be his.  Her eyes filled with tears as she told me how much she loved him and cried for him every day.

I thought about my own boy and understood her tears.

I thought about how she was only 13 years old when he was born.

I thought about the past 7 years that she had been at Nina Maria, wanting to be with him and not there.

We cried together

Then she asked me if she could come and live with me.  She told me that she would clean my house, brush my hair, make me beautiful and treat me like a princess every day.  I told her I couldn't.

We cried some more.

The time was coming to a close and I was feeling that I needed to do something for my friend, Karen.  I wished that I had remembered to bring one of the little gifts that I had bought at Dollarama for such a time as this.

Then I looked down at my scarf.

* my favorite scarf
* the one that goes with pretty much every outfit I own

I heard a voice inside:

Karen would love that scarf

but I love that scarf

but she needs it more than you do

Then there was an audible voice beside me that said, "Sheila, that scarf is so pretty with the lace and stuff on it".  Seriously?  It was Christy - one of our team - just mentioning it out of the blue....

a test

Was I willing to give something that I loved?

I heard the inside voice again

If you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded

one of the least of my followers

Karen - unwanted, broken, damaged...least

A few minutes later it was time to go home and I stood up to say goodbye to many around me.  When I finally got to Karen, she was standing on the cement step - putting her at my same height 2 steps below her.  I wrapped my arms around her and she whispered in my ear, "te amo - Dios te bendiga"   * I love you - God bless you *

We hung on for a long time like that.  When I let go, I unwound the cup of water in the shape of a scarf from around my neck and wrapped it around hers.

She looked so surprised and started to refuse and I said, "No...te amo - Dios te bendiga mi amiga".  

That's when the reward part of the promise came.  I saw in her eyes the most beautiful thing in my life.


from just a scarf

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Broken heart

heal my heart and make it clean
open up my eyes to the things unseen
show me how to love like You have loved me
break my heart for what breaks Yours
everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
as I walk from earth to eternity

such simple words with such depth of meaning

I have always loved this song and thought that I had figured out exactly what it meant.

I was wrong.

Yesterday I spent a few hours discovering what a broken heart really feels like.  It came in the form of a 3 day old baby boy named Daniel.

Our team spent the afternoon in a place called Fundacion Nuevo Nacimiento.  We have trouble spitting that out, so to us it is now called the "baby place".  It is a ministry that has been started in the inner city of Bogota by a beautiful soul named Isabel.  She had a passion in her heart for the thousands of underage pregnant girls from the ghettos.  She has opened up a home and it is packed to capacity with girls that have been abused, sold, used and damaged - finding themselves pregnant and no longer valuable to their abusers.

Some are as young as 11 years old when they come to Isabel.  Some are there for a second time.  The looks on their faces clearly show the pain of betrayal.  As we toured through the facility Isabel told us stories of the different girls, where they had come from, their complete mistrust of men.  The guys in our group were clearly seen as a threat to them.

At the end of the tour all of the girls were invited to participate in making a craft with the girls from our team.  It was a time that they could be the little children that they really are.  They tentatively left their beautiful little babies in the care of me, Floyd and the guys.  I wonder what was running through their minds as they left the room full of gringos and their babies.

Now, I love these guys, but none of them have very much experience handling babies - especially when they are all under a year old.  We had 13 babies in cribs surrounding us.  Suddenly one started to cry, then another and another.  I picked up the first little one - only 3 days old.  A beautiful baby boy.  Those instincts of long ago motherhood quickly kicked in and he settled down.  One by one the guys were convinced that they could actually do it too.  What an amazing afternoon.  The smiles on the faces of those rough, tough, and hard to bluff guys - was priceless.

I was in heaven.  A warm, sweet smelling newborn in my arms, sleeping peacefully without a care in the world.

And then reality hit.

I was suddenly reminded of just who this little boy was.
His mother is barely 16 years old.
She has lived on the streets all of her life.
Her life has been full of drugs, prostitution, stealing and murder.
This is her normal.

Realizing what this sweet baby's life was broke my heart.

I had an ache that reached to the bottom of my soul as I stared at his face.  I walked over to a corner and began to plead with God to spare his life.  To keep him from the darkness that he was born into.  To give him a hope and a future.   The tears splashed down on his tiny hands folded together and I kissed them away.

It was difficult to lay him down in his crib and walk out the door at the end of our time there.

I have cried many tears for him since.  I know that his Father has also shed more than tears for him.  I have to hang onto that promise to be able to keep going this week.  I have to KNOW that there is a plan for his life.

show me how to love like You have loved me
break my heart for what breaks Yours
everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
as I walk from earth to eternity....