Question we asked: "How can we help?"
Warning: Do not ask this question unless you really want to know!
Answer: "You can de-lice a dorm of about 100 little girls."
Response (among ourselves): "Wow! Ok ... how are we going to make this fun for little girls (and for us)? How can we make certain the little girls know they are honored and loved through this process?"
Someone in our group of 25 women came us with the idea of "playing beauty shop" with our "soon to be new friends" in Guatemala. So off we went for a crash course on cutting hair.
A week later, we arrived at Casa Aleluya equipped with scissors, capes and smiles that were masking our total lack of confidence. Actually, it turned out to be a very sweet time.
While the girls were attending school, we tackled one dorm room at a time. We washed sheets and treated hundreds of stuffed animals. We prayed over each bed as we lovingly remade them.
When the girls returned, we washed and carefully combed through their hair, on a mission to find each and every louse (singular tense ... and appropriate word) and nit (lice egg). We offered our new found "expertise" in hair cutting. A few girls cried because we cut more hair than they expected but many girls returned for a second trim. Really, I think they all just wanted a little more attention. Maybe that is because our team would "ooh" and "ahhh" over each one of our "masterpieces."
The beauty of that entire experience was that every little girl was noticed, touched, praised and prayed over - even the ones who were so shy they never would have sought our company otherwise.
Yes, we loved those girls for 5 glorious days. Then ... Thursday evening arrived and they realized we were leaving the next day. The sniffling began, tears followed and soon the room became a chorus of deep sobs. My heart began breaking. I lashed out to the One who was closest to me as I silently screamed, "God, how is this good for these little girls? You sent us here to love them and we did what You said to do. And now we are going to leave them! How is this good?"
Almost immediately I knew the answer. It was as if God whispered to my soul, "It doesn't have to be that way. You can be the "aunt." You can be the "grandmother" who returns each year for a visit with her family...and don't forget, I am always here!" I pondered ... that is how it often is in families. Beloved relatives arrive, spend time loving one another and then return home. Tears are shed but there is always the hope they will return for another visit, another time.
"Yes, God, I can do that."
Oh, and I have been back - every year for ten years - to visit my Guatemalan family.
We were created for relationship, first with our Creator and then with one another. Whether in another country or right down the street, we are told to love one another ... and love well.
I met a new friend today and she reminded me of my story as she told me hers. And so I felt compelled to record it ... lest it slip to the back of my mind again.