Breaking the Sound Barrier

Today’s entry is the second half of a two part entry. Just to remind you who we are talking about, here is the intro from the last blog:

“We have to go now!” he barked.

Her eyes widened. Her fear was palpable as she looked down at the ground. The smile that had just covered her face had been replaced with a worried scowl. Then she looked back at me. Her eyes carried a great sadness, conveying sentiments that words surely could not adequately express.

She began turning to run and for me everything else around us blurred. The world froze and nothing else mattered. All that counted was this moment.

I knew I only had one chance to get this right, but I had no time to plan or ponder what to do or say. Knowing I had to take action or lose my shot, I reached my arm out towards her to stop her, simultaneously praying for the right words and enough faith to do what I must.

She stopped her flight and looked at me. “Oh Lord, please let my words be yours.” I thought.

Changes Continue

Day 2 of the SMU team couldn’t get here quick enough. I was so excited to get back to Tipitapa to invest in Fatima further. When we arrived at the school in the afternoon our team sat in the shade waiting for the kids to trickle in.

A few kids started showing up, then a few more, and then the floodgates opened. Instead of 50 kids like the day before, we had over 100, then 150, and then even more. We had only brought 200 coloring sheets and by the end of our activities we had more kids than sheets. It was great to have all those kids, but honestly, we could have had 5,000 and I still would have been looking for only 1 – Fatima.

When she came through the gate I felt myself start to smile at the thought that I would get to continue playing a part in this little girl’s reconciliation story. When she first stepped into the school yard she appeared tentative, looking around and walking slowly. She finally looked my direction and when she saw me I waved. She let out a big smile and started running towards me.

I knew in that moment that the Lord had something special in mind.

From the moment she reached me to the end of the day she never left my side. Even when I was taking pictures or saying something to the group, she was right there. We started the day as we left off the day before – me speaking to her, her listening and participating as long as I was doing it with her.

But then things changed.

Breaking the Sound Barrier

I was helping a few kids color their sheets, Fatima being one. She finished hers and pulled on my arm. I looked at her and she said in a very quiet, almost inaudible voice, “I am done. What do you think?” As soon as she asked the question she started looking down, as though she expected me to say it was no good, ugly, or needed more work.

I looked directly at her and said, “It is one of the most beautiful drawings I have ever seen.” When I finished speaking she looked up. Her face was serious as she looked me directly in my eyes. Then, as if she had been searching for something and found it, she smiled. But it wasn’t the same smile I had seen the day before, or even earlier that day. This was different.

The only way I can describe it is to say it was one of the most genuine smiles I have ever seen.

And that is when it hit me. She may have asked, “I am done. What do you think?” But I think she was asking something different. I may be reading too much into it, but it felt like this was more than a question about her drawing abilities – it was a question about HER.

It was as if she was asking, “This is me. What do you think?” and that in His grand provision, the Lord had whispered in her ear, “You are beautiful, my dear Fatima. You are seen, you are known, and you are loved.” And just as important, it was though I could see her choose to believe it. To let it sink into her all the way down to her soul, producing a smile that stems only from deep, abiding, confident joy.

Saying Goodbye

I hate saying goodbye to the kids of Nicaragua. They have a huge part of my heart and whenever I say goodbye I feel as though I am carving out a chunk of my own heart and leaving it behind. Let’s just say it is not my favorite part of a trip.

It was the final day in Tipitapa so I knew saying goodbye to Fatima was coming up soon, but I wasn’t ready. Over the last 5 days we had said goodbye to the SMU team, welcomed the Aggie team, and spent three more days in Tipitapa. Fatima had not only joined us in the afternoons for the VBS at the school, but also worked alongside us doing the census in the mornings.

She had come alive and began interacting with more members of the team than just me. She wasn’t speaking to other people, but she would hold their hands, walk with them, smile with them, and play with them (the picture to the right is of her wearing one girl’s sunglasses while holding another team member’s hand). Those were all HUGE things, demonstrating the redemptive and transformative power of the Lord’s love at work through all of the team members that invested in her.

But we were now here – at the end of our time – and I was going to have to leave her in the midst of that which caused her to doubt her own worth. Even typing that sentence pains my heart. Thinking of her in her old conditions without someone to help her remember what she had learned during these few days was and still is a heavy thought.

So when her brother grabbed her, terror filled her, and she was starting to run away, I couldn’t stand by. I had to reach out to her, to do something to help her remember. But what to say?! What to do?! I didn’t know. I only had a few seconds so I looked her in the eyes and started to speak, asking the Lord to show up.

“I know you have to go, but I want you to know that although we won’t be here next week, you are not alone. We ALL believe you are smart, strong, important, and loved. And no matter where we are, what happens, or what others say or do, that will never change. God loves you, Fatima. A lot. And He always will.”

She looked at me again, similar to when she showed me her drawing, with a serious face that was searching my eyes. And then, on her own accord, she threw her arms around my neck and for a few seconds just let go. I hugged her back, letting her enter even a brief respite from the world around her, and then had to let her go as her brother called her name again.

And then she was gone.

Hope Continues

My heart still hurts when I think about her being alone. I have no idea if what I said will make any difference in the moments when she doubts. But I guess it really doesn’t matter. Why? Because I trust in Him, regardless of if I said the “right” words or took the “right” actions. He is far bigger than my abilities and is NOT limited by my own shortcomings.

Therefore, I trust the Lord to be present in the moments when we are not. To love Fatima with the love of a perfect Father – a love that is far superior to anything I could ever give – and to guide her little heart to the knowledge and the ability to rest in the fact that she is loved.

How can I trust the Lord with this little girl’s heart and soul? Because He is good. Because His loves endures and heals. Because He is above all and over all and in all. And because He has proven himself faithful.

So, in the late hours of the night, when the thought of Fatima, Reyna, David, or any of our children facing the difficulties of their everyday lives pains my heart, here are some of the scriptures and truths I lean on. I hope that, if you feel the same as I do about the pain of these kids, that these help you too.

Scriptures that have helped me:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

- Psalm 91:1-4

But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath… But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.

- Jeremiah 10:10, 12

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

- Psalm 89:14

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

- Deuteronomy 32:4

…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

- Hebrews 10:22-24

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

- Romans 8:38-39

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