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.