Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's a small world after all

I remember when I was in first grade my family went to Disney World. We rode this ride in a little car (that I got to “drive”) that took us down this path with the continuous, repeating lyrics of “It’s a small world after all…” I’ve heard the older you get, the smaller the world gets. I’m beginning to find that already with people I meet, but instead of being like that nuisance of a song, it’s been a real comfort and blessing.

Yesterday, two men stopped by. One of them was them was from Outreach International, one of Lifeline’s food suppliers of the food that we feed our children in our schools and nutrition programs and distribute to other missions. The other man with him named Roger Elmore works at Iowa State University as an Extension Corn Agronomist. As soon as I saw his polo with ISU on the side, we began talking since we were from the same neck of the woods. I said I graduated from Northwestern College, to which he responded that he knew people that went to school there. Come to find out, he knew four people that went to school at NWC because they were family friends from his home church. The first girl he mentioned was Stephanie Powell! I was shocked! Steph graduated a year ahead of me, but I actually met her before NWC because we did New Way Singers (a summer choir tour group for high school students) together for three years through Nebraska Christian College. He used to live in Nebraska and went to the same church as Steph (and a couple other girls I met through New Way Singers) and he and his wife were really good friends with her parents. It was crazy to meet this wonderful man of God in Haiti of all places.

Last night, four Haitians stayed with us here because one of the men, Pastor Mioche Rock, has a mission in northern Haiti but receives food from Lifeline to feed children in his programs. Pastor Rock attended Crossroads Christian College for four years and was very good friends with Nichole (Howells) who grew up in my home church. Nichole was someone I always looked up to and admired. It was crazy to meet this man I had heard about from Nichole before, in Haiti of all places.

It’s a small world after all, but how comforting it is to know God makes our worlds smaller, maybe so that we can be encouraged by those in it that we’re privileged to meet.

Beautiful girls

God answered prayers for the small group of girls that I was hoping we could put together. On Thursday night we had our first meeting at 4:00. Of course, we ran on Haitian time so by the time all the girls showed up, it was about 4:40. There were fifteen girls there. We talked about our relationship with Jesus and finding our identity in Christ. As we talked and discussed, it was evident to me that girls everywhere really are the same- we all desire to feel beautiful and to be loved.

Beauty, I’ve learned, is cultural. What we think is pretty in the U.S. isn’t pretty in Haiti and what’s pretty in Haiti isn’t necessarily pretty in the States. For example. When I first came here, some girls wanted to braid my hair. I let them and when we were done, I had 12 random braids plastered to my head coming out from all directions. Then they told me how pretty I looked; I wasn’t sure I agreed. Last week, we were walking through town and saw a woman wearing a red blouse with a white lacy bra over the top. Christi and I looked at each other and smiled. We decided either the bra was a little too big and fit better when worn over the top of her shirt or she thought the lace added a pretty new dimension to fancy her shirt up a bit. The other day I decided to braid my own hair into pigtails. I made them loose braids and it kind of had that “messy” but cute look to it. But here, the girls didn’t find the loose, “messy” look so attractive. They thought it should be plastered to my head.

Nonetheless, all girls desire to feel beautiful and to be told their beautiful. And when we feel beautiful, we hope we’ll be loved. I asked the girls what they do to make themselves feel beautiful. The girls answered, “We shower and put on clean clothes; we do our hair and put gloss on our lips; we wear shoes that match our dress; we wear bracelets and earrings, and then when we walk in town, we hope that people, especially the boys, will notice and say, ‘You look beautiful!’.” As I listened, I couldn’t help but smile, because if I asked a group of girls that in the U.S., I know they would have the same answers.

I shared with them a favorite scripture, 1 Peter 3:3-4, that talks about true beauty. True beauty doesn’t come from outward adornment- braided hair, wearing gold jewelry, or fine clothes, but true beauty comes from the inner self; it’s the unfading beauty of a gentle and quite spirit, and this beauty is of great worth to God. I emphasized with the girls that it’s okay to do things to help us to feel pretty- God clearly gave all of us that desire, and so it must be okay, but those aren’t the things God cares about. He wants our hearts to be beautiful and to be filled with the same love for others that He has shown to us. And only His love is perfect and fills the desire we have to be loved. The girls sat there and listened intently.

We prayed and then fellowshipped with one another. I shared with them a cake that Lakey and I made that used granadia juice that I squeezed…I’m getting better with granadia. They are such girls. Since it was now “fellowship time” they began talking away like girls and giggling and screaming at random things. They wanted to sing a song so we did, and then we played a name game and they put me on the spot to name all the girls there. I was pretty proud of myself for learning most of their names. It was time to end our time together, but we planned to meet next Thursday at 4:00 again. Pastor Luc was there and said there was another church program at that same time, so I told him we’d find a new time because I didn’t want to pull the girls away from anything else, and he said, “No. This is a really good, and the girls need to hear this. They should come here.”

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts with these beautiful girls; I’m excited to continue to share with them.