I always say that I wish I blogged more often… even if just about daily life.
But when there’s a long lapse between my posts, I feel pressured that when I finally write again, whatever I share needs to be profound.
I am attempting to break that cycle today! After finishing my workday just a few moments ago with a smile on my face and my heart full of love, I felt compelled to share a small and simple part of my day that left me feeling more fulfilled than I ever imagined it would.
To offer some background information to those who may be unfamiliar with the details of my life, I live in a huge house with many people. The myLIFEspeaks interns, staff members, 7 children (former orphans), and the house parents (who have become a mom and a dad for the children) all make this building their home. Because the children have all recently (within the past year) made myLIFEspeaks their home, most of them are delayed educationally and developmentally. I mean, could we have expected that an orphan would have had quality care and education? Even children in Haiti who do have parents aren’t always guaranteed an education or loving care and attention.
Because I am the occupational therapist at myLIFEspeaks, when we discovered that some of our typically-developing children were behind not only in school but developmentally as well, I began working with them a couple times a week. (As a side-note, it has been refreshing for me to work with children with a wide variety of needs.) During our time together, we focus on handwriting and fine motor skills often involving fun activities such as play-doh and crafts! (Right up my alley!) And as a bonus, all of our fine motor activities present the opportunity for learning, whether it’s colors, letters, or counting.
Today when I went to get Blenton, Brendie, and Steven for our fine motor time, I realized that it was just going to be Brendie and me for the afternoon. Blenton wasn’t at the house because he had gone to the dentist and Steven was asleep (and despite my efforts to wake him, he was dead to the world). Brendie and I made our way to the balcony where we work together, and I surprised her with a new activity for the day… SHAVING CREAM! As an enrichment activity in addition to our paper-and-pencil practice, we practiced forming letters with our fingers in the shaving cream.
As usual, from the street below, I heard children calling my name. (Honestly sometimes I think they just like to say my name, haha). When I peered down to say “Bonswa!”, I saw Rosemela (Frensky’s biological sister) standing in the road. Ever since Frensky’s mother abandoned him and he came to live at myLIFEspeaks, my heart has ached for Rosemela. When Frensky still lived at their house, Rosemela would spend hours upon hours just sitting in the house alone with her little brother. Several evenings I went to their house at dusk and their mother was still gone. Rosemela would be lying on the only bed in their house, under the mosquito net with Frensky. Some nights I would crawl under the netting and into bed with them and let her play with my hair and giggle and talk until it was time for me to go. Now that Frensky no longer lives there, I wonder how lonely she must be sometimes. How often does she sit alone while her mom is gone? Does she have food? Does she put herself to bed at night in a dark and quiet house?
So when I saw her standing in the road by herself, I called down to her. I asked her if she could come see me… and to go ask her mom. Luckily, her mom was home, and within a couple minutes, she was running back with a huge smile on her face. I let her in the gate and led her up to where Brendie and I were “working.” She stared with curiosity as I squirted a huge pile of shaving cream on her tray, but quickly realized that she was about to have a lot of fun!
I had to sit back for a moment… several moments actually… as I listened to these two young girls chatter back and forth, giggling as they drew people and shapes (including Simba from the Lion King and Frensky, haha). Brendie leaned over to Rosemela’s tray, helping her to correctly form her letters, and Rosemela proudly showed me each letter she had drawn.
When we finished the shaving cream task, I challenged them to each complete a foam alphabet puzzle. Again, the girls worked hard and occasionally leaned over to help each other or share what they had completed.
When our time was complete, Brendie headed down the hall to her room and I led Rosemela through the house to send her home. As we walked through the courtyard and approached the gate, I heard Brendie yell from her balcony, “Rosemela!!” Brendie was hanging over her balcony waving goodbye. She had a huge smile on her face. Rosemela waved back and then hugged me tightly as I kissed her cheek and told her I’d see her tomorrow. As she walked away, I peeked back out of the gate one more time and said, “Rosemela? Ekse ou konnen mwen renmen ou?” (“Do you know I love you?”)
She smiled really big, nodded yes, and headed home.
I don’t know why the events of this afternoon touched my heart so.
Perhaps it was the smile and laughter of a lonely young girl who misses her younger brother and receives little attention at home.
Maybe it was the fact that Brendie, who sometimes gets made fun of by other kids in the village, was able to connect with another girl similar in age.
Actually, I think the simple joy of my afternoon was just for that reason. It was SIMPLE.
I was joyful because I realized that I was able to experience joy even in such small, seemingly insignificant moments. There is joy to be found everywhere when our eyes are fixed on Christ and we set about our day to share His love with everyone we encounter. Because Christ lives in my heart, I can experience joy not only in the huge victories of life, but in these small moments… moments of laughter, friendship…
even shaving cream Lion Kings.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
– Galatians 5:22-23
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
– Psalm 40:16
For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
– Psalm 21:6