In the past 3 weeks I’ve witnessed and absorbed far more trauma than I knew a mind and a heart could hold.
In fact, I don’t think I am holding it at all. I became saturated with sorrow, and then it just seeped out, leaving only the residue of shock in its wake.
And then I understood.
|Pre-hope Lifa: 2 1/2 years ago.|
I understand just a littttttle smidget of what it must be like…
…for death to be so common that there’s no time for tears and no language for mourning.
…for violence and crime to leave scars and holes that get plastered over with whatever trash is lying around.
…for your body to just stop registering hunger, much less a seemingly more trivial emotion.
…for children to suffer, to learn it’s not worth the tears, and to live in the hospital because there’s no one to pick them up.
I understood those flat faces that don’t move in joy or affliction. I understood why stories go untold and every day is treated like just another day to get through.
I can tell you first-hand that your mind, your heart and your body just can’t hold it all. So it stops.
You just flinch into survival mode – the safest place you can create in the dangerous world you live in. It shuts down the feelings that hurt too much. And wipes out the hope for today and tomorrow along with all the rest.
When it hurts too much to live, it hurts WAY too much to dream.
I visit often and I love deeply in Dwaleni, but I don’t live there.
I’m experiencing an all-system shut down when I have 4 wheels to drive me out of the pain.
The ladies of Sizanani Home-Based Care live there.
In hungry houses and in houses made of sticks.
|Photo by Carly B|
These women see tragedy after tragedy… and respond. On the days when they are hungry and it’s blazing hot, these volunteers still walk up mountains of crumbly rock with medicine, compassion, and prayers for the sick, they dying and the most vulnerable in their own community. They don’t get paid. But they don’t stop going.
January has taken a toll on us.
I’ve watched hope drain out of these women in the heat of South Africa’s summer. They’ve been without for so long that they can’t remember what it is like to dream, not even enough to remember why they keep doing what they do everyday.
The feeding program in Dwaleni is growing by leaps and bounds. Hundreds… Hundreds of children feel the hope-drain in their own homes, pervasive hopelessness in their community, and run into our yard to escape it. They’re starving in so many ways. It feels like chaos.
I felt us all circling the drain in January.
And everybody at Ten Thousand Homes was talking about dreams, vision, hope and all that other Kingdom-Coming, New-Year jibber-jabber.
See what I mean…
See how I just hyphenated Kingdom-Coming and called it jibber-jabber?
That’s a drain-circling red flag right there.
My leaders were asking me what I wanted for Dwaleni. And I just wanted us all to survive it. The Sizanani ladies, the children, the families, the feedings.
I was circling a drain in a tiny sink of today’s circumstances…. When my Maker poured the depths of the ocean at His word, just because He dreamt it. And He made me in the creating, dreaming, purpose-filled image of Himself… as well as the Sizanani ladies, and the children, the families and the feedings.
The Sizanani ladies and I had to get out of that sink before January came to an end. You can’t dive in to a kiddie pool, and God said it is a year to go deep with Him.
Last Wednesday, I went to teatime. I was armed with cake, paint and with a dream to start dreaming. (How can that not go well?)
I told the ladies I was stuck. I couldn’t do today or tomorrow. And I was tired. Leaning forward, they agreed with wide eyes… eyes that felt understood.
We talked about His Kingdom coming in a way that wasn’t hyphenated jibber-jabber at all – in the way that is filled with promises for tomorrow and hope for today. His Kingdom has come and it is coming. There are still tears to be wiped and stomachs to be fed, but we have the authority and the Spirit of His Kingdom within us.
And that feeding program was designed to look like Home. The Kingdom kind of Home… the one where we are safe, where we dive, and where we belong. Not the ones they run away from and replicate in our yard with clenched fists.
I asked the women who cook, clean and pour out their lives for the orphaned and vulnerable children in their own communities to dream for the feeding program and to dream about what God sees when He looks at Dwaleni. I asked them to paint a picture of what God sees when He sees Dwaleni. No words necessary, but God’s heartbeat for the place their hearts beat.
We prayed, and they painted.
This would be the part where I show a picture of some amazing glowy, sparkly, Picasso-shaming painting…
I THOUGHT we were going there.
We sooort of went there.
They painted words.
For these ladies, the biggest dream they could stretch themselves to believe for was for the holes in the roof to be repaired.
And that is a BIG stretch from surviving the day – that is at least leaning toward something being better tomorrow than it is today.
We talked more. Once I started remembering His Promises and started asking Him to show us what He wants Dwaleni to look like, I started getting amped up.
More kids are coming. We have to have more food. Felicia said, “But we can’t make more food because we don’t have big enough tubs for the food.”
I replied with eyes tinted with hope, “What a great problem! We’re going to get bigger buckets. Bigger buckets mean bigger dreaming!”
Then desires started flooding in:
We need more serving spoons. And a bigger pot.
The house is cracking.
Maaaybe the fighting could stop and we could teach them the Bible.
What if the chaos stopped outside the fence, and there was the peace of the Kingdom reigning over that Thursday afternoon after-school stop?
|Photo by Carly B|
It’s not Picasso.
It’s not the images or the colors of happily ever after…yet.
But we got bigger buckets.
And, the next day, not only was there enough food, but there was a LINE for SECONDS!
And we’re going to keep dreaming. Big-bucket dreams.
And today, right here and right now with you, I’m going to start believing for ocean-sized buckets. Because He is faithful. He fulfills promises, parts oceans, and overflows buckets of hope.
|Photo by Carly B|
|Photo by Carly B|
Hope, fill our buckets.
(My style of passing our juice)