All the children were running around with crepe paper and we were just about to begin the candy cane demonstration when a little girl approached me. She smiled and handed me one of her many papers and began to laugh. She was so full of joy and suddenly I realized, I may not be able to handle the heartache of leaving this child, but I can lean on my Father and we will make me whole again. He allowed me to lean on Him and love on this child. Her joy blessed me. We played with our crepe papers, held hands, she gave me a picture of herself, took a picture with me, gave me a hug and walked me to gate to say goodbye. I don't know this little girls name, and I don't know if I will ever see her again but I do know I will never forget her and the gifts she gave me that day; the gift of joy and a deeper understand of Christ's love.
Elaina, an amazing woman from my team, wrote about her experience that I would highly recommend you reading here. You won't regret it.
I have never been adventurous, bold, courageous or brave. I’m a homebody, comfort is a big deal to me. I tend to be picky but like things very plain. I am OCD about certain things. I like to take a hot shower everyday. I like to come home from working only 7 hours and relax by watching T.V. I have been very fortunate to not be in debt or have to worry about certain expense because of my parent’s love and generosity. I was supposed to graduate from college get a job, get married, have two kids, live a “normal” life. But that’s the thing, I don’t want a “normal” life. We as followers of Jesus Christ are called to live differently. We are supposed to stand out. Instead of living for ourselves, we are living for Him. So I may be different now, my plans may have changed quit drastically, and many people may think I’m crazy or weird or different (however you’d like to describe it) but I am going to embrace this. I am going to embrace being transformed and renewed by God, following in His will, obeying His commands, loving Him with all my heart. I am excited to live differently so that others can see Christ through me. My life is comfortable and convenient and I could easily continue with my planes for a normal life. It’s not a bad plan, but it’s also not the plan God has intended for me.
The moment I saw those children, those orphans, in Africa I knew nothing would ever be the same; I would never be the same. My plans for my life has been thrown out the window and with it my expectations for how the rest of my life will look. I haven’t even gone back yet and I still catch myself (and sometimes it’s after the fact) getting too comfortable, almost falling back into my old ways. It’s hard having to jump back into a routine as a different person. It’s hard wanting more than anything to be back in Africa with those beautiful children but having to wait. Right now everything just seems hard. That’s when I close my eyes, and like a flip-book, I see their faces, one after the other. I touch my bracelets and remember the smiles that tied them on. I remember that God has a perfect plan and perfect timing. That everything I am facing, struggling with, going through, God is right by my side, holding my hand, and helping me through it all, even when I stumble or stray He is there for me to lean on; He will not leave me. This is not the plan I had for my life at all, but I am trusting, following and embracing God’s plans, for they are far better than my own.