Thursday, as I was looking at our new sheep outside of the school window, I was so thankful for things that bring peace. It was such a pastoral scene and it was calming. It helped me to process some things that have been rumbling around in my head and heart. Sometimes things happen and it takes some time to figure out where your heart has flown, fallen, failed, or fluttered. I do better processing on a walk (a long quiet one) or with a lovely pastoral scene, such as terrified sheep in our front yard. Some things are hard to share because honestly, they just aren't my story- they involve others- and I don't want to tread where I shouldn't. Hopefully I share this in a way that honors others, and also conveys things going on in my heart. If I don't share, then you don't know what in the world we do in day, or why it can be so hard for me to process and let God. If there is anything that I have learned in being here, it is that we have to take the time to process the events of our days. If we don't, then we will load up a bucket full of gas and plan on blowing up a hospital (right, I haven't written that journal yet).
Weeks back I heard some hood gossip that made my stomach do a flip. I didn't know names, but I had a sick feeling that I knew the players and that it involved the family of a little boy that I have come to love and treasure. A young man had been killed in our neighborhood, someone drove up on a motorcycle and shot him dead; and the young man killed had stolen the other man's motorcycle. Tutoring time came and went for a few weeks and we were missing a little boy that we all love. This little boy is just as quick to run up and hug the stuffing out of you as he is to shoot you the finger when you drive by. So I started asking around and went to visit his house, it was empty. Arnold got the story and a teacher confirmed it, it was the little boy's brother that had stolen the motorcycle and gotten shot. Now the father and our little friend have run for cover, not leaving any information on where they have gone. Evidently this has happened a few times before, and our friend just has to pick up and start school wherever they run. Now, my friend is the only son left. I didn't cry for a few days, and then I bawled and couldn't stop. It's just so wrong. This little guy was just getting the hang of reading and he was so proud. He was coming to school more regularly because he was beginning to believe that he could, that he was. I cry and cry and think, God, I just can't handle this. I would just gather all of these ones up and take them in and then do a horrible job of taking care of them, but at least it would be my fault and not someone else's. Isn't that ridiculous? So I walk, listen, and process. The truths: God is good and He cares more than I do. He actually has made a way and I nor anyone else control someone else's heart. My friend, Nicolas, can know Him and his way without me. He will protect and love Nicolas. Nicolas has seeds of God's Word and love in his heart and they can grow and be beautiful. God has protected me in the past and the present, and He is capable of taking care of more. My action; prayer and being available. Ok. That was hard and continues to be hard.
Then another story. Back when we went to church in town, there was a family in our church that you just wanted to help so badly, and you did, and it was never enough. You knew some things weren't completely on the up and up, but your heart breaks for the kids and the mom and the whole mess that travels with them. They are precious and you just don't understand. So you give what you can, you help when you can, and you basically feel like you are never doing anything other than putting a tiny drop in a gigantic silo. You have used every technique that you have read about and nothing seems to be lasting. The mess of their situation is still there. They and you are broken. Now that has been a few years back, the family moved, you left the church, life goes on. Kids start to file in for tutoring and one young man is not like the others. Wait, it is one of the older boys of the family that you love and just don't know how to help. He is so skinny and there are tears in his eyes. He has been doing some work for a neighbor of ours and has walked all the way from town, only to learn that the man has gone for the day. He is hungry, tired, and broken. I have him come in, tutoring is happening, and give him a snack and a drink. I tell him we might have something for short term work, come back on Monday, and I offer him a place to sit and rest for a bit. You can tell he doesn't want to leave, that as I tutor little 2nd graders, this teen may be learning something for the first time. Fortunately, the neighbor comes home and our friend is given some work. That night I cry more, because how were we supposed to help better, how was it supposed to go differently for him? Why is this young man now living on the streets and the family if broken up into pieces because a mother doesn't know how to keep it together? Lord, how have we not applied your Word and your Way? The next day this young man comes back and tells you that the neighbor is helping him get into a rehab home in Guatamala, but that if it doesn't happen soon, he will take you up on the work. I give him a mother hug and say goodbye. Will it be the last time? Will he be ok? Was there something I missed that I was supposed to do?
Those questions seem to haunt me. And I have to walk, listen, pray, listen, and look at my new sheep. We are desperately in need of a shepherd. I am talking about me, my friends, other missionaries, and the people that God puts in our path. I PRAY that I also speak the words that communicate that I know the Shepherd and have found him faithful beyond. I PRAY that I communicate that I don't have the answers but I can go before the throne with you and if God shows us how we can help, we will, with a genuine heart. I PRAY that one day we see the situations that seem so dire and hopeless; on the other side with life and victory. I PRAY that I am willing to move in action when He gives the direction and that will automatically act when it is just a given.
Lord, gather up your sheep. Protect us. I pray for Nicolas and for Victor. I pray that they know your voice. We need you Father, Jesus, Shepherd.