We arrived to our home-away-from-home at 11:30 in the night. After such a long day, all we could manage to do was make our beds and climb into them. Then, rising at the break of dawn, our team of 23 women, all different ages, began the serious task of organizing. We organized our bunk beds. We organized our kitchen. We organized our suitcases filled with "activities." And we began to get comfortable in our new surroundings. We arrived with prayers, plans, concerns, hopes and mostly, curiosity about what God had planned for our week at Casa Aleluya.
I left the security of the "gringo dorm" and ran an errand. Returning, I found myself locked out of my newly established comfort zone. Where was I? On a playground, surrounded by 60 giggling, sweaty little boys. Some were playing soccer. Some were playing on the swings and slides. Some were digging in the dirt. Some were chasing one another. Doing "stuff" that little boys find amusing. I knocked on the metal door that separated me from my Texas friends. And I knocked. And I knocked. I shouted the names of friends and I shouted again … and again, louder and louder. No response!
After about 5 minutes of futile attempts, I felt a tug at my shirt and looked down. Beside me was a little boy I had never seen before. And I've been visiting Casa for over 11 years. This little one didn't look like the rest of the Guatemalan boys. His skin was fairer and his eyes were lighter.
I said, "Hi. What's your name?" (Part of my limited Spanish vocabulary) He rattled off a name as fast as he could and it sounded as if it had 10 syllables. I asked him to repeat his name. So, he said his name - even faster. Beside him was another little boy whom I recognized and whom obviously knew my gringo limitations. He said the little boy's name very s-l-o-w-l-y.
I asked my new friend how long he had been living at Casa. He went silent and his little friend said, "He came last night."
Ahhh, this is the little boy that I heard arrived just a few hours after we did. What had this precious little boy experienced that prompted the courts/police to rescue him from his situation and bring him to this home of 500 children? How can people abuse helpless children? How can they "throw away" their gift from God? How? Why? I did't expect the questions that I always struggle with at Casa to hit me so soon after my arrival.
But some things I did know. I knew that God kept me from entering my physical, emotional and spiritual "comfort zone," so that I could meet this little boy. I knew that I was going to be required to open my eyes and heart if I wanted to see what God had planned. I knew that I needed to slow down and I knew that God was revealing bits of His nature to me. I was also witnessing the devastation that man imposes on man. Sin!
This little boy was now safe - safe from the circumstances that brought him to Casa in the middle of the night. He had instant friends/family - many who understand what brought him into their midst. He has opportunities. He has dorm parents who truly care. He can receive an education - all the way through college. He has in front of him a future that is rich - not in things of this world - but things of eternal value. This little boy will get the opportunity to meet Jesus, His true Savior, and to fall in love with Him.
I prayed. "God, please reveal Yourself as Father to these fatherless."
I kept my eye on this little one throughout the week. He smiled a lot. He laughed. He got hugged each morning on his way to school. He ate a huge bowl of ice cream served by a team of women who couldn't stop grinning. Jesus was loving this child through the body of Christ. It was a beautiful site to behold.
Jesus continues to amaze me. At Casa I saw tangible evidence that He binds up the brokenhearted. He proclaims freedom for the captives. He releases prisoners from darkness. He comforts those who mourn. He provides for those who grieve. He gives an inheritance. He gives joy. He rebuilds. He restores. He renews. He gives a double portion. And the Bible declares that he loves justice. (Isaiah 61)
As for me, "I delight greatly in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God."