I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. It’s because there’s been too much.
To tell you the truth, this weary lady could use your prayers as I’ve let myself get overwhelmed by the extremities of the jagged edges of injustice and the safe arms of restoration, by the suffocating chokehold of hate and the reviving breath of forgiveness, and by the empty-eyed desperation of need and the giggling celebration of provision.
Building Hope in a culture whose death rate says, “live for right now because later is not guaranteed”, and creating Home amongst a people group infected with shame, poverty, and injustice, requires a lot more than I have in my own strength. (Which is really good news.)
To tell you the truth, “building Hope and creating Home” doesn’t just happen with butterflies and cupcakes. You can’t put a coat of paint on a dilapidated shack and call it home. You can’t smile and wave at an orphan from the comfortable interior of your car and call it hope.
But it’s happening.
Hope and Homes is happening in South Africa.
It’s happening to the beat of that two-steps-forward, one-step-back shuffle that started in the produce department of Eden, when we took our first step back.
Life’s been messy here.
I’ve been teaching Family to a local church.
I’ve been passing out hundreds of plates of hot food to hungry tummies.
I’ve been kissing and kissing the droves of tiny voices and feet that follow me wherever I go.
But to tell you the truth, my real sphere of influence runs deep with only about 3 families.
It developed through countless cups of tea and car washes at GoGo’s house, slumber parties with Mama Charity’s kids, sewing lessons with Nandi, Sunday lunches, church at Busi’s house, Band-aids and bathtubs, and hours and hours of sitting in their yards. Laughing, dancing, picture taking, meal sharing, and all the usual parts of relationship building have swung the doors of Family wide open and given me the unique favor and honor to speak Truth into their lives.
It’s daily life with these three families that I’ve been so overwhelmed by the extremities of life and that I’ve danced the two-step-forward, one-step-back shuffle with.
Nandi ran away last Friday.
And to tell you the truth, nobody (else) seemed that worried about it.
We couldn’t find her anywhere until Wednesday. Nandi was hiding in the bathroom at Ten Thousand Homes’ feeding program in Mbonisweni, a few miles and a mountain away from her house in Dwaleni.
|Nandi and her mom - Jan 2012|
I had to choke out that it wouldn’t be safe for her to stay at my house either. When her mom found out, she would lash out. I couldn’t become a threat to Mama Nandi and risk losing the ability to be a part of Nandi’s life. This situation required more than a Band-Aid, more than a coat of paint, more than a right-now repair job.
My pastor’s wife and I just started at each other, with dirty, barefoot, shivering Nandi tucked between our bodies to protect her from the winter chill.
We needed Hope.
We needed a Home.
Finally, I reached down deep and decided to take a chance.
“What about GoGo’s house?”
GoGo lives within shouting distance of the church. Nandi is from another community. They have no real connection, but they are both my family.
So we marched down there and asked if she could stay, at least until Sunday. They didn’t ask a question, didn’t bat an eyelash, and didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“Of course she can stay!” (Um… that was after the awkward clarification to GoGo that Nandi is a girl and not a boy.)
I was blown away.
Because to tell you the Truth, THIS is what it looks like to build Hope and create Home. I was the one taking lessons in Truth this time.
A friend who visited TTH earlier in the year seemed to have insight into this very Truth and the generosity that comes with it. Scott and the New Hope Church team left me with a stash of cash to meet needs as we saw them. I had it and was ready to tell the Truth with it.
As soon as Nandi was situated at GoGo’s, that little blue Mazda headed to town and bought her socks, underwear, a sweat suit, an outfit for church, and we threw in Amanda’s sparkly silver Toms too. Then we went to the grocery store and loaded a basket full of food for GoGo’s family, who hadn’t thought twice about another mouth to feed. We even had Lindsay’s perfectly-girly Knit-A-Square blanket to cover that extra body piled into GoGo’s 2-bedroom house of 6.
We burst through the cold winter night into GoGo’s house with loaded arms. Before she even knew I was there, I caught a glimpse of Nandi with little Fiona tied to her back, playing with her hair. Nandi was beaming from ear-to-ear.
The whole family was packed into the living room, just being a family. They ooed-and-awed and celebrated Nandi’s new wardrobe, clapping, cheering and dancing. Lindsay passed out sweeties, and Tshepiso cooed over new oranges. (They hadn’t even seen the big package of chicken yet!)
I stood there, soaking up the warmth. The Truth. Family.
I told them that this is what the Body of Christ looks like.
When one person has a need, there’s always someone who can meet it. Nandi needed a Home and a family and a sanctuary, and GoGo’s family responded. Before they even saw the need, people in America responded to God’s promptings, and we were able to bring the food and clothing they would need.
The Truth is, He sets the lonely in families. (Psalm 68)
The Truth is, He died so we could have access to Family. (Galatians 3)
The Truth is, Hope and Homes is happening.
One house, one little girl, one pair of shoes, one bag of groceries, one knitted blanket, one sweat suit, and one choice at a time.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me…
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 25:35,36, 40
Please continue praying. Nandi is smiling, laughing and adjusting beautifully at GoGo’s, but this is only a temporary place. She is not attending school. Pray for breakthrough with Mama Nandi as my pastor’s wife and I go visit her on Monday. We have no idea what the next step will look like or what God has in store, but we know He’s got His eye, His hand, and His heart on Nandi.