I held her little five-month-old body and rocked her back and forth in the darkness of our spare bedroom, singing Amazing Grace and trying to comfort her while giving her sixteen year old mom a break to eat dinner and take a shower. Her body was hot with fever and her wheezing cough spoke loudly that this was serious. Over and over again she was at the point of sleep only to be awakened by another coughing spell, leaving her breathless.
Her whimpers broke my heart.
As I tried to comfort the mom, just a kid herself, I felt helpless. I didn’t have medicine to treat her baby girl. All I could do was some essential oil treatments to hopefully help her breath better throughout the night until we could get her to the clinic first thing in the morning.
There were dozens of children in their village two days up river with these same symptoms, they told me. Several had died.
Nothing prepares you for this part of missions.
Every day my heart breaks for the hurting, lost, hopeless.
I look into Maricleine’s big brown eyes and wonder if she will ever fully heal. After all, she can never un-see the things hersix-year-old eyes have seen.
I break up another fight between two eight-year-old girls who never get along and I know that they are fighting because they’ve been raised in fend-for-yourself homes and taught that you lie to get what you want or to keep from getting beaten again.
Richard comes home on the moto one night while little four-year-old Frankie yells to him, “I’m hungry!” It’s almost 9pm and he still hasn’t had dinner and probably won’t.
I walk down the street with Maricleine and her big sister Mariclea and they see their mom walking down the street. They call to her, excitedly. She barely gives them a glance. “Where is she going?” I ask. To the trash to find them some clothes, they tell me. Not because they don’t have money for clothes, but because their money is better spent on alcohol and partying.
I sit at the hospital with a Ticuna Indian friend as she prepares to welcome a sweet baby girl. I can’t figure out why she and her husband don’t seem the slightest bit excited. I find out later it’s because they’re embarrassed to be having another child. It was just an “indiscretion” and every one they know tells them they should have never had this baby. Another baby born with no one on its side.
Maricleine’s two year old brother, Alonzinho, shows up completely naked just about every day now because his clothes are all dirty and his mom never washes them. His hair, full of lice, has never been cut and he pees wherever he happens to be standing at the moment. He only knows a few words. His four and five year old siblings take care of him.
Every day it’s story after story.
Every day we remind ourselves that we weren’t called to do it all—we can’t do it all.
Instead we do what we can. We clothe the little bums, brush the rotted-out teeth, feed the hungry bellies, speak love to the hurting hearts, bring food and treatment three times a day to the sick father with TB, rock the crying baby, plan to drill the wells to bring clean water, raise funds to train more young men from the uncontacted regions, all the while sharing Christ through every aspect and opportunity that prevents itself.
But most of all, we pray.
We pray because there are so many bellies out there going hungry and kids that need clothes and teeth that will rot out and hearts that may never know true Love and men, women, and children who will die from preventable and treatable diseases.... but we know the Ultimate Provider and Healer.
We pray because we are human and sometimes we just want to say, “Forget it!” and walk away because we feel alone and drained. Sometimes we don’t love like we should and we react in frustration and we choose not to give mercy..... but oh how good it is that His mercy is new every day.
We pray because the needs are tremendous and the workers are oh so very few... but we know the Lord of the Harvest.
We pray because there are so many projects on our hearts to reach more and more and a million dollars would only scratch the surface... but we know the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and to Him a million dollars is mere numbers.
We pray because we could never do enough to save them all, but Christ already did enough to save them all.
Please pray with us. We’re all in this together.