Well, the time has arrived. We are officially preparing to move communities and tomorrow, we will be shifting from Pretoria west into Bela Bela to the game reserve, where my last team and I had served previously. To be honest this week was an incredible week as we were able to help make bread at our local church for the various ministries who help to pass out meals to those in need, organized the donated clothing, and danced the Cotton Eye Joe for our kids in the after school program , but it was also met with some challenges as it has been a week of goodbyes to this incredible community. It is never easy to leave a community, especially when this is a community that I have loved from the moment I stepped foot into it last year, and the moment I came back. It was like returning to a friends house where the door is always open, you are welcomed with open arms, and they love you for you. The relationships I have built there with each of the staff and community will forever leave a mark and they will always have a piece of my heart.
Moreover, throughout this last week, as we have had some time between our transition, we had the opportunity to serve at a disability center for a few days at the Olievenhoutbosch Disability and Day Care Center. Here, our team had the opportunity to help make meals for the children at the school, organize their library, help in the classrooms, and serve with children living with a disability.
It was during our time in Olievenhoutbosch that I began to realize loving someone, is actually rather easy. As I stepped back into this community for the last month or so, it was a time of seeing old friends, strengthening those old friendships, sharing stories, and stepping into a dynamic that just felt like a second home. Loving these people was easy, because I know them. They know me, and we have built a relationship through the time we have spent with one another, the hugs that were shared, tears cried, and the life we’ve lived.
On the other hand, my challenge of knowing how to love someone began with a little girl who did not understand English, and was furthered by another little girl that is living with a disability.
On the one hand, although the one little girl and I could not really speak to one another, by the time we left this community, we knew one another, we could play together, we this little girl became the one person I looked forward to seeing everyday that we were able to go to the school.
On the other hand, this little girl that is living with a disability, with whom I only got to spend a few short days with…it wasn’t just a language barrier that separated us or a sense of physical touch due to covid regulations…it was a language barrier, an inability to communicate, and inability to even realize that I was sitting there with her.
So many of us can validate that we love someone by our sense of physical touch, what we do for them, the words we say, or our actions, but what do we do when we can’t? How do you love someone when you can’t reach out for a hug? What do you do when your words are not understood or they fall short? Everything we normally utilize to convey our love for someone or convey God’s love for someone, now the greatest challenge before you.
So what do you do? How do you bridge the gap?
You sit, you smile, you bang a lego square against the floor to make a similar sound as she is making, and you pray…and hope for a moment that they finally look into your eyes, and they see you.
This moment doesn’t come at first, but over time…in a single moment, all of a sudden, she gets up, grabs onto your shirt and side by side you walk laps around the center, you jump when she jumps, and you clap in celebration together because I knew in that very in this very moment, as we locked eyes, she knew me. Moreover, in that moment I saw her, I knew her, and I saw a beautiful daughter of our most High King. She is incredible inside and out and she conveys a type of love that I never knew before.
As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
This is a type of love that I was shown goes beyond what we know love to be. It’s a love that isn’t defined or validated by physical touch, by words, or by actions. It’s simply a love that is seen through the eyes of another.
To truly see yourself through the eyes of another. Through the innocence of a child, it’s a perfect picture of God’s love for us. A love that sees no fault. A love that is innocent, forgiving, and never ending because they don’t see you for what you have done, the words you have said, or the actions you have done. This type of love doesn’t define us by the image we see in the mirror, the sins of our past, the regrets, the mistakes, the circumstances, or the brokenness…its an unconditional love that simply loves us for who we are and what we mean to them.
…and God loves us the same. He does not see us for the person we once were or the stuff from our past…He sees us, as His wonderful creation, and He loves us in spite of it all. He loves us, because we are His own.
As it says in Isaiah 54:10,“For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”
We may not be able to physically feel God’s love, but He is always there and the moment we start to see ourselves through His eyes…priceless. It’s reckless. A reckless love that fills our soul, allows us to pour into others, be compassionate, live in freedom, and love others in a way we never thought possible.
As we start to transition into our next community, I am excited to see where God leads us next, how He continues to move in our hearts, the people that will cross our path, and how He continues to challenge my team and I as we all continue growing into the person He has created us and called us to be.
Until the Next Adventure,