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


Dani said...

You are such a blessing Sheila. I am always taught something by your blog posts...and honestly, u have a gift of bringing out my tears. Thank-you for being an amazing dean for the dorms and just an amazing person in general. <3

Ashley said...

Couldn't even read the end if the post until I wiped my eyes... Thank you for sharing. Your words create such a visual picture that I could easily see the moment in my mind. And it was Beautiful. Full of His Beauty and such an example of love.

just sayin' said...

I'm finding this is such a wonderful way to end my day. to read your posts! fills my heart!!! Thank you. I need the reminders of God's love!

Bobbi said...


Viviana Afanador said...

Sheila... thanks for sharing. I love reading your blog :)
I'm so glad you're in Colombia right now... Love it for me :)

Alicia said...

Love. Wow my heart is full, I want to be there with you sharing gifts with the least & unwanted. They are precious & You are beautiful!

ROSALIE said...

What a beautiful way to teach us all such a simple, but oh so important lesson. Love you, girl. And I'm praying for you.

Deborah E said...

Sheila, Thank you for the blog post. Never "just a scarf" when used as an extension of love, love that goes beyond an item of clothing and comes directly from the heart. Thank you, Sheila, for sharing from *your* heart. God bless you! -Deborah

Jamie said...

This made me cry................