Sunday, July 20, 2008

The heart of the matter

I only have a week left in Mozambique before I go back to Uganda and I am still trying to process through if I’ve changed, if so how much, what God is doing in me, what God has taught me and what impact that has on the rest of my life…so you know, small things.

I was all prepared to write this blog about the amazing things I saw happen the last few days I was in the bush again camping in the dirt and ministering to a small village outside Pemba. I still want to write that blog. Because I did see lives absolutely transformed, which is truly the desire of my heart---to see hope spring forth in the midst of hopelessness. But I am really struggling today and need your prayers. I need to be really authentic and honest here that as a leader, I don’t always have it together---in fact most of the time, I don’t. And today I am just falling apart.

At times like this it is incredibly hard not to be home.
I just found out my grandmother got hospitalized with Alzheimer’s and her case is worsening. I just found out one of my best friend’s newborn baby is in the ICU.

These are things I should be there for. These are people I should be hugging right now. As badly as I want to do God’s will, and hug those here who need love, I want badly to be home supporting those who love me. These are the times when missionaries truly die. What are my priorities? Are they the children I hold in my arms who might die from a foot infection that doesn’t get treatment, or is it my mom who needs my love right now. I am so incredibly torn.

I want to tell you about Elisa. Maybe it will encourage my heart.
Elisa is a girl about 16 or 17 who we found two days ago locked up in a chicken coop for the last five years. When we found her she was naked on a soiled bed, dirt caked on her, staring in a catatonic state. At first she made no responses. She was there because her family didn’t want her. She was there because she was a “mad person” or “demon possessed.” She was there because she was an outcast. When we found her she couldn’t even look at you, she stared right through you. We sang to her, we loved on her and eventually were able to pull her out of the darkness of that chicken coop into the sun.
We prayed for hours, we held her broken, void face in our hands and just cried. God began to deliver her from whatever was oppressing her because there was a change in her. Slight, at first. She began to look at us. Into our eyes. I have never looked into eyes like her brown ones. I almost couldn’t hold her gaze. In those eyes, so much pain and so much emptiness, so much desperation and yet so much nothingness, I thought she might swallow me up into the desolation she endured.

In my spirit, within a few minutes I knew she had been violently raped. Maybe even given in “marriage” to the demonic spirit her family had built an entire hut for. She would shrink back in fear of men. She would lapse it seemed, almost in and out of consciousness where she would give us a blank stare and then come back to life again. I have never prayed so hard for someone’s life to be redeemed and healed. As I looked into her eyes and cried, a single tear rolled down her face and I knew that she knew that God was loving her through us. We held her and rocked her and sang songs over her and fed her and bathed her and it was as though she didn’t know what to do because she had never experienced love. It was overwhelming for her. But God allowed me to see for a second, what it is like to love like He loves, what it is like to look into the eyes of Jesus and know that whatever we did for her, we did for Him.

The next day we came back and with the family’s permission burned down the hut that had housed the spirit which held her captive. For the first time she smiled. It was the most precious thing in the world. We explained to her family how wrong it was what they had done and they repented and brought her back into the house. We arranged for the church to come visit her twice a day. Her trauma is so deep that I know it will take time for her to be completely healed. She cannot speak. But it is a beginning. There is hope and in her, I saw transformation. I saw a life saved, a life literally saved out of darkness. And if that is the only thing I see here in Mozambique. It is worth it. Her life, is worth it.

So I remember her today when I am crying at this computer. Because I have to remember it is worth it. All the pain of not being there for the ones who have been with me. It hurts. But when I held Elisa, I think they would be proud of me for being here, for loving someone who has never known the touch of tenderness. Even though it means I cannot be there. I want to say I’m sorry. Sorry what it costs to be here. Sorry that I miss the birthdays and weddings and baby’s being born and grandmother’s going into the hospital. Sorry that I have to do this. I hope you understand. It is for times like this, times like holding a girls’ face in my palms and letting love change her. I just pray that my love for all you at home, all you I long to hold in my arms and cry with, I pray you know I am with you in spirit and that today is one of those days I wish I could give this all up just to be there. Just to hold you.

With longing and love,

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