The anticipation is almost over. As I prepare my heart to experience the Care Point at Timbutini for the first time, I find myself again looking at Psalm 139. This time my focus is on the phrase from verse 1 that says, “search me.” Yes, Lord, search me. Look deep inside of me. Is my heart pure? Is there unconfessed sin in my life? What are my motivations for being here? Am I here for my own need to “do something for you or am I here simply to be a blessing to these precious ones?”
I turn over to Psalm 144:1.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.
What are you training my hands and fingers for, Lord?
I move to Psalm 147. Scanning the chapter, my eyes stop on verses 10-11
His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
I begin writing the verse in my journal and make a side note: It’s not the things that we do for God that bring Him delight. He finds pleasure in us when we have reverence and respect for Him.
Gazing out at the incredible view from the terrace of the hotel where I am sitting doing my devotion time with the Lord, I can’t help but stop and give praise to Him for His creation. I pack up my things and head to the bus that will take us to Timbutini. Heart pounding and eyes wide open waiting to see what the Lord has in store, I close my eyes and pray.
“Lord, give me eyes to see how I can best love these little ones today.”
We arrive at Timbutini and unload our supplies for the day. It’s morning time so the preschoolers are in their classroom at the moment and the school-age children will not arrive until around 3PM. Anxious to see some children, several of us decide to peek into the preschool classroom. We are waved in by the teacher … YES!
As long as I live, I will never forget what I see and feel at this moment. My eyes are captured by a beautiful smiling face dressed in pale pink. She looks like a short-haired, chocolate brown china doll – perfection! She stares at me, her eyes piercing through my soul.
Then my eyes dart to two little chairs filled with two little girls (twin girls). They can’t be more than 15-18 months old, and they are sitting perfectly still in their chairs. Perfectly still!
I walk over to the table where the short-haired china doll sits. She is working on an alphabet sheet. She smiles at me again and gestures for me to sit. I do and she immediately grabs my hand with hers. She stares at me and I at her. There are no words between us, but I understand what she’s feeling. She’s glad we’re here and so am I.
It’s reading time now, so everyone scatters to find books to look at. I spot a small boy with sleepy eyes. He crawls into my lap and snuggles in, laying his head on my shoulder. I begin to read and then notice that his eyes are almost shut. Putting the book down, I begin to rock him back and forth and before long he is sound asleep. We are both blissfully happy and I cuddle closer and enjoy the peace of the moment.
After a few minutes the teacher asks us to teach the children a song. Following our sing-along, it’s time for them to have a late breakfast. Walking outside I see each of these little tiny wonders take a bowl filled with pop and a few beans. (Pop is a white, starchy substance that looks a little like mashed potatoes.)
I decide to help one of the twins as she looks to be struggling with her bowl. She’s so tiny. I honestly can’t imagine any 15-month-old from the US being as independent as this little lady. I get her seated on the dusty ground and a thought hits me. “Spoons! Yes, Where Are the Spoons? I need to go get these little ones some spoons to eat with.” As I have this thought, it dawns on me, they don’t use spoons … and in that moment, I see tiny hands scooping up food bringing it to mouth.
Oh. My. Goodness!
I cannot describe my emotions at this moment. Something that comes so naturally for us – eating with a spoon – is unheard of for them. And can I just say, they are making a mess out of themselves eating with their hands! It’s everywhere! How easy would it be to get these darlings some spoons!
Getting over myself, I sit down between the little twin girls to watch them eat. The one twin isn’t interested in eating so I coax Auntie Lar (That’s my friend, Laura, but her Swazi name is Auntie Lar). I coax Auntie Lar into enticing baby girl into eating. She does, and we clap!!!
I have a thought. Baby wipes! We brought baby wipes – lots of them! I go find them and begin washing hands and faces. Oh, how these little ones love this! They love letting me hold their little hands and faces and wash them of the messy residue. I wonder if anyone ever does this for them? This is my calling while on this trip – I will wash faces and hands all day long!
Breakfast is over, and I watch as each of these precious preschooler walk over to the pan of water and wash their dish out all by themselves. I can’t believe my eyes! Preschoolers are washing their own dishes. Things are going to have to change at the Heider house when I return!!
As I sit watching them during playtime, I can’t help but think about what I’ve experienced in the last hour or so … A striking little chocolate brown china doll who stared a hole straight through my soul … A tired little boy who felt safe in my arms and let me rock him to sleep … An entire classroom of preschoolers who gratefully ate their breakfast with their hands and then let me wash those dirty hands and faces … Little ones washing their own dishes without being asked.
What will the rest of this day bring and the next, and the next?