Walk with me...to Section 19.
I wasn't prepared for what I saw. This was the hardest day for me emotionally. One step in and we were face to face with some of the worst living conditions I had ever seen. I was prepared for some of the cultural changes and the surroundings of vulnerable children. But I wasn't prepared to see such little life caught up in the middle of it.
We were greeted well at the beginning, even had kids running out to meet us. There were lots of smiles and hugs. As we met the facilitator of the Care Point, she showed us her spaces...where she herself lived, her community. This community was planted right in the middle of the Royal Swaziland Sugarcane Corporation. Past a broken down fence, we saw a woman standing over a hot pot full of porridge, the meal of the day. Right next to her, was a painful sight. There was a tiny little baby sitting in the middle of the dirt. He was eating something crusty out of the bottom of a metal pot. Flies swirled his face, looking for a still place to land, finally resting on his lips and cheeks. His eyes were glazed over as he sat in the middle of his exposed poverty with his blank stare. Personal pain hit my heart.
As I crouched down to take his picture I could only see the face of my little grandson Avery. I thought the "what if" question. "What if that was my family sitting there?" And then I lost it. Hot tears streamed down my face as I looked away. I wanted to scream, cry, and cuddle the little one in my puddle. I wanted to shoo the flies off his face.
I wanted to scoop him up and save him. I wanted to love on him. I wanted to whisper in his small ears some words of healing. I would have said, "You are the one Jesus loves." or "Even though you don't know it right now, God loves you and made you very special." Instead of reaching, I was paralyzed in the tender moment. I was not able to move. I felt so ashamed.
I must have watched for an hour but in reality I know it was only minutes. Time stood still. In my silence God gently whispered in my heart, "This is My family sitting here." More tears. I found my self just staring, broken in his nakedness. I wish I could hold that little guy now.
At the opposite end of this tiny community is a brand new Care Point that will serve many hot meals, hugs and smiles. Children's Cup brings a promise, hope is being offered. The love of Jesus is being served in Section 19. The Bible will be taught there. Dreams of a brighter future are on the menu. Knowing this was on his horizon, I was able to get back on the bus. But I was changed in that still moment.
Don't miss your chance to hug a child today. Something so small can mean so much. In the world of defenseless children, it speaks volumes. And only God can translate into whispers of love.