A little girl watched them all fall away in the midst of the pulsing, ravaging HIV crisis in this land. By the time she was 12-years old, she was left alone in a shack to raise her 8-year old brother. That was in 2006, and now that little girl has her own little girl. At the age of 21, she is desperate to pass grade 10 so she can complete school and make a better way for her family.
Last week, we started a tutoring program for her family and another family with a similar set of circumstances. We loaded seven of them and their ginormous backpacks into our vehicles, and they sprawled out their insecurities, questions and calculations with visiting mission teams at the Ten Thousand Homes base.
After she finished her homework, I took that 21-year old girl for a walk to the construction site for my new house. I couldn’t help but think back to 2011 when we built her house. Some of my most powerful memories in this country are when we went to her construction site every week with truckloads of people to sing, dance, teach God’s word, and bring that Kingdom down as those walls went up. Here’s a story about it. That was real-life church in the yard.
I stood there in my own pile of bricks with the girl whose house we sang up in 2011. She popped out her hip and didn’t skip a beat, pointing to the pile of dirt that will become the bedroom she would like to spend the night in. Then I watched all the sass and silliness melt away as we stood under that doorframe and she said, “Kacy. I dream my mother.”
This young un-mothered mother who just tries to keep her head above water, much less pass that geography test, poured out her secret dreams of her mother crying from her grave. She shared, for the first time ever, the story of her mother dying in her 12-year old arms.
I have nothing to offer in these moments.
We stood together in the messy place that is becoming a house.
And I had nothing to offer except standing together.
I stayed up late and woke up early thinking about that moment she trusted me with. I don’t understand why there’s so much broken or why she trusted me with those stories. But God is making space for them.
The very next day, a woman walked into the churchyard with a smile on her sweat-beaded face as she pushed an un-toddling toddler up the bumpy hill in a wheelchair. This is a lady who’s been in hiding as we’ve watched her older 3 children struggle and starve. She locked herself up in the self-made prison of shame in the formerly-beautiful home we built a few years ago.
We never saw her new baby for the first 2 years of her life, but had only heard a rumor there was a new family member. For some reason, now this mother has emerged, and we can see this immobile, unseeing baby girl with a spinal cord injury is the object of her affection.
I wanted to pounce her and kiss her and do a dance around her when she entered that church gate. SHE CAME! I didn’t even care why she had come.
I figured that, after two years of locking her door and pretending she wasn’t home when she saw my Condor, I should play it cool and just bring her a chair and a plate of food instead of going in for the kiss on the lips. (That’s real self-control in action.)
She speaks no English, so I just lingered long enough for her to know she’s worth lingering and loving. Not long later, a young woman from the church came to me to tell me why that mother had come. She had found work and wanted someone… someone white... someone who is me… to care for her baby full time while she worked.
I was shocked.
This mother has taken great measures to not see me, know me or be known by me for years, despite her incredible need and great effort on my part.
Now she was reaching out and trusting me with the most treasured part of her life. I was devastatingly humbled. I stayed up late into the night wanting to give up every other responsibility I have in this world to take care of this little girl’s broken body and to acknowledge this mother’s reach. Instead, we will stand together with her and pray for the right resources and the right support system for this family to thrive. Please pray with us for this.
I have no idea why she came or where she got the strength to reach. It didn’t come from her prison house, and it didn’t come from me. God is making space.
He’s lengthening, and He’s strengthening. He’s building up His Family, even when His kids have nothing to offer and when His households are messy. I’m going to stop trying to understand or trying to build up a storehouse of things to offer. I’m going to spend myself standing together in messes and in beautiful.
He’s going to keep making space that I don’t know what to do with.
And that is beautiful.
"Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes...
For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,"
says the Lord who has compassion on you
from Isaiah 56