They were all so young.
The oldest, maybe half my age.
The youngest and tiniest, perhaps four years old at the most.
She was full of life. Placing a book on my lap filled with pictures of various animals and objects, she proceeded to point to various pictures and say words in her language. I would respond in English, having not the slightest clue as to what she was saying, but, loving it just the same.
They all stared at us wide-eyed, taking every part of us in.
I often tire of the staring, but, this I didn’t mind.
I smiled, and they beamed back at me.
There was so much hope in many of their eyes.
Outright joy beamed in many brown eyes.
There was slight hardness and reluctance in others’.
We did some stretches.
The young girl next to me marveled at how I could get my head to my knees.
They begged to do the “Hokey Pokey”.
We shook it all about.
We sang songs in English & and in their language.
The girls laughed and laughed at Ashlyn’s and my facial expressions, dancing, and hand motions.
We were regular comedians.
A national partner shared the story of the “Feeding of the 5,000” in two of their languages as the girls sat in a circle listening intently.
How I have taken for granted knowing these stories since I was young.
They were asked questions about the story.
The girls were then given roles to play, and acted out the story.
So many giggles.
My role was one of the hungry members of the crowd. An overdramatic one, of course. The girls laughed and laughed when it came time for the members of the crowd to “be hungry”, and Ashlyn and I moaned and groaned, holding our stomachs, and acting ridiculous.
In their language, they told our national partner, “They make us laugh!”
Oh, the excitement could be bottled and sold.
The girls ran to me and grabbed onto me, eagerly holding out their hands.
Swallowing down the fear of my first time doing henna, I gently took hold of my first eager hand, and began drawing out the design that beautifully tells the story of the feeding of the 5,000.
They loved it.
They held perfectly still, watching as I drew. When I was finished, they grinned widely saying, “Thank you!” in their best English.
I wanted to say so many things to them, but, I knew they couldn’t understand me.
Language barriers make you realize how much you take for granted the fact that the vast majority of people in America can understand you, and you can understand them…appreciate that. Tell people things. It’s when you can’t tell them what you want to …that you wish desperately that you could.
As I held their tiny hands in mine, I couldn’t help but wonder what their story was…the story behind their hands.
Hands that have witnessed more horror than I could probably dream up.
Hands that have possibly done horror.
Hands that have been mistreated.
Hands that have been abused.
Hands that have been used.
Hands that, perhaps, have rarely, if ever, been gently held.
I never wanted to let their hands go. I wanted to hold their hands, and I wanted to hold them as well.
These girls live in a recue home for trafficked women.
These girls were rescued from sex slavery.
The home works to rescue more and more and more from lives of slavery.
I can’t even begin to fathom their stories.
I’m not sure I could even stomach them.
“Bido, bido!” They lovingly shouted (means, older sister), holding out their arms to me, asking for various letters and words to be written in henna on their arms.
One girl even asked me to write my name on her arm. (she might regret that later 😉 )
Three girls came up to me, asking repeatedly for me to write “Mommy” on their arms. That was my interpretation, at least. They possibly could have meant a word in the language (one, that I think, means “Auntie” possibly, which is something they would call me), but, I repeated it back to them multiple times, and they insisted on, what I heard to be, “Mommy”.
So, with a heavy heart, I drew out “Mommy” on their arms. I choked back tears. I thought of my mom, and how much she has selflessly and unconditionally poured forth endless love on me my entire life…I wondered about these girls…I wondered what had happened to their mothers. I wondered what sort of love they knew…or didn’t know.
I also thought of a Father who knit them together in their mothers’ wombs.
Who was and is sovereign over all of this…all of their pain.
Who loves them so much.
I couldn’t tell them that, but, I prayed over them as I held their hands.
I pray they will know Him.
I pray they will know His Son.
I have nothing to offer them of any good except Him.
I pray the Father’s hands will work in their lives.
I pray they will know the story of redemption mercifully written in the pages of scripture.
That it will become their story. The story behind their hands.
South Asia is hard.
This city is hard.
It’s not an instant love affair.
I beg for genuine love for these people and this city that stems from Him.
He is faithful.
He brings these moments.
He brings the moment,… after I finished with my girls, when one takes my hand, takes the henna and draws her best design on my palm. It may look silly to anyone else, but, it’s beautiful to me.
He is faithful.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful…for He cannot deny Himself.”
Less than 1% believers.
30 Million people.
These people are there.
That’s a fact.
Father, help us.