The past few days have had a few of those precious parenting moments, so I thought I'd share.
Friday afternoon, as we sat down to eat lunch, Jonathan asked if he could pray. And for the first time, he prayed a "comprehendable" prayer - I could understand every word he said. His prayer went something like this:
"Tank you God for Mama -n- Baaba.
Tank you for Beka, Nahnah, Anna, Toe-rie -n- Baby.
Tank you for big bro Brenbren.
Tank you God for you.
Tank you for YUM YUM!!
A good part of Sunday morning I spent sitting outside behind the church after Elsie Mae's patience for sitting quietly during the sermon had run out. I shared the rickety wooden bench with another lady and her little girl. Actually, the lady is an older Gourmantche grandma who is caring for her granddaughter, Salamatou, since the mama died when Salamatou was born. Little Salamatou is about 6 weeks older than Elsie Mae, but due to malnutrition and a general lack of food, she is much smaller than Elsie. Her grandmother does the very best she can for this little one, begging food and accepting whatever work she can find, just to buy an enough food for the day.
These two precious little ones had so much fun this morning as they played together. They chased around old cookie wrappers that had blown into the courtyard with the wind, collecting them up and handing them back and forth to each other. They twirled in circles until they got so dizzy they'd fall right over. They chased each other around with squeals and high pitched screams. They tried to balance on their heads an old phone card one of the girls found and picked up. Part of an old soccer ball was laying in the corner of the courtyard, so the girls and I kicked that around for several minutes. And they both took lots of turns running up to Salamatou's grandmother, arms open wide for hugs, kisses and the sometimes tickle.
You know, I didn't get to listen to the sermon or participate in the Lord's Table this morning, but the Lord used that time sitting with Salamatou's grandmother and watching our two little ones playing together to encourage my heart. Living here, my heart physically hurts as I see all of the hurt, illness, poverty and need. I wish I could "fix" it. But I can't and I sometimes beg the Lord to show me how and where He is making a difference. He showed me a glimpse of that this morning. Elsie Mae and Salamatou didn't look around them and see all of the impossibilities, frustrations and discouragements amidst an overwhelming number of things that "just aren't right." Instead, they saw opportunity for fun, laughter and love. They didn't look for what they didn't have, but simply enjoyed and shared, without reserve, that which was available. And in the process, they brought a beautiful toothless smile and tears of joy and laughter to a sweet and tender grandmother who sacrifices daily in ways I can't imagine just to find a little bit of milk and millet for her precious child to eat. And through those two toddlers, God reminded me that there is no time or place where He can't, if I will let Him, direct my mind towards those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.