hidden behind walls.

the combination of poop.pee.puke stings my nostrils as i enter the gates of the orphanage. how can you despise and enjoy something at the same time. it seems to be a constant battle that i encounter between these two emotions. the feeling of despite normally arises when i initially walk into the high walled area that they consider a suitable home for hundreds of abandoned children. how can anyone believe that this is a healthy environment for children to be raised. then a sense of enjoyment pops up at the sight and greeting of the guards and workers, that have absolutely not one mean or ill-willed bone in their bodies. i continue to the building that serves as these children's safe haven and am now bordering the line of tolerance of the awful stench of unattended babies and not-all-the-way-dissolved baby formula milk. as i trek up to the third floor, the cry and yearning for love and attention fills my ears. i again enter into an attitude of despite and wish that more people would just simply care. I arrive to the third floor and enjoyment floods back into my system as i peek around the corner and see the empty, but beaming faces of these precious little beings. they stand there in their cribs waiting to just be cleaned. they have already learned by now that they shouldn't expect any sort of affection from the workers, so they impatiently fidget until it's their turn to be washed and maybe get a diaper (on a good day). the nurses are on their own schedule and it is at times unclear to where you can really help. sometimes i just take it upon myself to start taking them to the bath...its hard to really love on a child if your hand is being soaked by runny poop. 

most times i visit...its the same routine of cleaning, feeding and playing. they're children and they are all different, so of course, their little personalities come out, each time different, but altogether their demeanors are constant. however, this particular visit was tough. the young child you see pictured below is assetou. she is absolutely beautiful..she is frail and gentle, but has the brightest smile (when she does smile). her right eye has large spots of gray, which i am not too sure if its simply an eye color or if she will one day be blind in that eye. nonetheless, she is gorgeous and so sweet to handle. never have i seen her act out.. until today. when i made it to the room, i immediately began cleaning babies and wrapping them in new diapers. Assetou was one of the first to be cleaned, so she was calmly walking around waiting for her playmates. about forty minutes later i finally finished diapering up the last child and was thrilled to be able to pick up any of them without getting soiled. however, assetou has been right by my side from the moment i rescued her from her crib. so i picked her up and covered her face with kisses. her desolate face was dazed, but i could still see the craving she had to just be held and adored. a few moments later i placed her down and turned my attention to some other children crowded down by my feet. i expected her to quietly walk away and find some blocks to entertain her, but instead i hear this ear-splitting scream and see a face full of tears. i was somewhat thrown off, but i thought, ok maybe she is just cranky. so i turn my attention back to her for a few moments and think alright she will probably be ok now. no. i was wrong. it came to a point where she was demanding so much attention that i ended up ignoring her, yet still keeping my eye on her, examining her face and trying to figure out what was going on in that small brain of hers. 

friends, she broke my heart. she simply could not stand the fact that i was loving on other children besides her. it was as if i was abandoning her. she lashed out against me, against the kids, against herself.. how does she even understand at such a young age. i guess she could. all she has known is the cold, unfriendly walls of this dungeon. she has no idea of trust or love or care. love is so simple to give (especially to a child), yet so high in demand. 
before i left for the day, i picked her up and embraced her small frame one more time, reassuring her that i did love her and i would never stop. does she understand that? probably not. & it will probably take quite some time for her to ever understand. 
i suppose you can now see the real depth of my battle between despite and enjoyment when i visit the orphanage. a battle that i must fight, not for my sake, but for the precious faces that are hidden behind walls. 

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: 
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
..james 1.27



"I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, 
who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: 
Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. 
Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching....
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. 
Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. 
Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you."
2 Timothy4.

Being placed in a setting filled with unfamiliarity and sometimes uncomfortableness has brought to my attention some of the most disappointing and upsetting self-assessments. & that is what i will share with you. i tend to do a lot of my thinking while enjoying a relatively silent taxi ride. normally i dont mind the silence and actually on most days enjoy it.. it gives me time to gather my thoughts and simply reflect on my already accomplished activities. however, today the silence did not bring reflection, but a rather surprising and 'hurting' sensation. it was at that moment, the silence slapped me in the face and took my mind to an assessment of my actions and responsibility regarding the Christian's role as a steward of his Word. i ached with embarrassment at the realization of not my lack of boldness here in a foreign land, but on my own grounds. my home. my culture. my tongue. 
i journaled "see, when you don't know language and can't communicate even half, even a quarter of the things that you would be able to in your own culture, it makes you realize the importace of opportunity. it becomes more of a priority for you, it makes you more passionate and motivated to go out and reach the people that you can communicate with.
i don't know how to explain it in words. i just feel as if when i go home i will spend more time with those that need Jesus because God has given the gift of language and communication to be used and if i am not sharing the gospel with them then i am not using what he has equipped me with. i really wish i could explain fully what i am feeling. i just feel horrible at the opportunities wasted. it is pure selfishnesses. i know the language and the culture to be able to minister and i am not. Lord when i make it back to the states- please keep me focused on reaching those that are lost. May no more opportunities pass." 

it was not until i lacked the skills that the urgency of the message and itch to preach about the Son of God became real to me. it is true, pure selfishness is what reigns in our hearts when we care more for our own well-being than those around us. i know we have heard it a millon times.. your missions field is in your backyard.. but honestly it is...i pray that you may share this conviction with me.. & if you feel that that is too bold then well be it. for it is when we don't feel that conviction, that we indeed are the ones that are lost.  

may it never again take the absence of resources to understand the seriousness of the gospel.  


destined awakening.

the supermarket was empty..of food that is. it was most definitely not lacking in bodies. i am crazy to be out buying food right now, but hey the apartment needs some food and household necessities. i catch my taxi, which i share with another gentleman. i didn't mind heading a little ways away from home to his destination before mine. as the taxi whizzes through town, its hard to not notice the hundreds of people up and down the street preparing for one of the most extreme and important practices of their religion. no the woman aren't on the streets, but all the men have already laid out their prayer mats in preparation for the long months journey. i stare in wonder. a millon thoughts racing, yet all i can express is a blankness. the devotion is astounding, but baseless, misguided. 

to talk about Ramadan in America seems like a fantasy or a novel of some sort that never really happens. to experience Ramadan first hand in a muslim nation is startling to the eye and inconsolable to the heart. as i sit out on my roof tonight, the air is filled with the smell of expensive meats and the buzzing of thousands of voices chanting to a god that is not even real. i can't begin to express to you the burden that lays heavy on my heart. i can't stop asking myself, 'what must be done or said or shown to these people to unveil their eyes from this facade and believe the truth of our Savior, of our Jesus who saved us from all wickedness in this world?' 

well i will tell you, i am sure i will still be asking myself that same question even after this month of Ramadan. so what can i do about this current situation? this is a spiritually 'high' time, if i may use that term, and the devil will sure to be at work. 
thus, i have not only decided to bathe myself in prayer, as well as my team and even the Muslims themselves, but i will take part in the fast as well. Fasting is a Christian spiritual discipline, mentioned multiple times in the Bible and to look at it from a cultural perspective, it is not wrong to do this fast, we simply have two different motives and two different 'gods' (which their is only one true God). 
not only will me partaking in this fast spiritually shield me and test and build my faith, but i see this time of fasting and praying as an opportunity to possibly enter into some Muslims homes and share an evening meal with them and their families. a chance to build relationships with these wonderful people. 

now you must be aware that this process is long and draining: physically, mentally and spiritually. so i ask you to join in prayer with me and for me. please remember the thousands of people sold out to an empty religion. Pray that during this time of exerting themselves that the Lord, our Lord, speaks to their hearts and reveals His love and grace to them and their families. i know it will be tough, but my God is mighty and sufficient and He will provide me with strength and discernment. please pray. 

tonight is the beginning of a destined awakening.