It took me back to a few years earlier.
How many Sunday evening services did I sit bawling as missionaries shared their pictures and experiences working in different countries and cultures with desperate people? I remember specifically the night that Kim Schilstra and Sarah Wingfield shared their separate accounts and testified what the Lord had taught them through their experiences in Honduras and Guatemala. With all that was in me, I wanted to be with those precious children they spoke of, I wanted to experience their journeys too, I wanted to go.
Years prior to that, how many days did I sit at my dad's old desk, the one with the world map glossed over the top of it. I would sit for hours at that desk scanning over the names and countries around the world. And then the day I got out my pen and physically circled the Caribbean Islands as a place that I hoped to travel someday. *Just a disclaimer, the reason for my circling was more due to the tropical beaches than the run-down village life, but all the same, I see the Lord piecing these experiences together in a magnificent way.
He has taken my dreams, my holy discontents, and even the smallest little tidbits of my childhood hopes and spun them together into a journey that I could have never imagined. Of course life isn't perfect. There are daily hurdles. Stresses and frustrations and discouragements, but even the hardest days are far outweighed by moments like these:
When I reach the summit of the hill that looks down upon the Louisaint family's home (in the mountains). My heart swells as the children look up and see us come into view. Usually wearing no more than a tshirt, they sprint up the hill to greet us. The giggles and shouts they make as they dash up the tiny path toward us is a priceless gift.
My hand was bruised after an incident on the playground with the Hope House kids. We were going down the orange twisty slide, and it got squished between the excessive amount of moving bodies around me on our descent. I knew it would take a while to recover from the pain after it happened, but it's been a month it still hasn't healed. This is a result of the constant pulling, twisting, yanking, grasping and swinging by a dozen eager hands that fight to hold it throughout the week. If my hand never heals, I will be completely okay with that.
Michelle has recently joined the guitar practice time when Jean Marc comes to play. Because there are only 2 guitars, Jean Marc and Michelle both play and I simply sing along to guide them in the rhythm. Over the past few practice sessions, I've noticed even at my strongest voice tone, I can barely be heard against the resonance of the guitars. The two of them play the praise songs so wholeheartedly, they completely drown me out. And it's so beautiful.
A couple of weeks ago, I taught the Loulous a song in our afternoon session. It comes from a song that I used to sing with the kids in Adventureland, before the days of 252. The words of the song sing: My God is so great, so strong and so mighty there's nothing my God cannot do for you. At first they could only sing the first line, and then copy the actions to the rest. Now, they sing it through all of the way and at full volume. I hear them singing it when I pass by their house in the morning as they are eating breakfast. I hear it when they are out on the playground with the Rumfords and all the kids are singing along, I hear it as we load the bus to head out on our field trip. And it always brings a smile to my face. I hope they never stop singing that song.
Yesterday morning in school it was Fun Day. With recent visits from grandparents, the kids have been stocked up with some new reading material and they were all at their desks and fully immersed in their books before school had officially begun. I took the liberty of extending our start time so that they could keep reading for a while and enjoy their stories. During the quietness of their independent reading, I scanned around the room and then at each student in my class. I watched Riley's fascinated expression as he opened the flaps of his bible story picture book, I watched Bridgely's mouth move as he sounded out the words to a chapter book under his breath. I watched Grayden find comfort on his upright plastic chair as he reclined his body and twisted his legs close to his body in a position that appeared like an acrobat. I watched Teagan and Maddy exchange glances and soft giggles as they shared funny moments of the plot line with one another. Pondering each of these children, and the potential that they hold was remarkable for me. In some small way I get to be a part of who they will become, and that is such a privilege. I can't wait to watch them be all that God has made them to be.
In a couple of hours, the junior girls will be filling my house with excitement and giggles. Tonight is our Christmas party where we're all going to dress up and eat desserts and I'll probably be painting a lot of snowmen on toes. It's been awesome to have this time with them each week. They knock on my door, bibles in hand, eager to crank the music, lounge on my couches, drink kiwi Tang and share stories. My floor will be scattered with popcorn and cookie crumbs when the night is over, and my apartment will be about 10 degrees hotter than it was when we started due to the extra body heat. And yet at the end of the night I'll switch the playlist from Stellar Kart to Brooke Fraser and as I clear the dishes, I will once again stand amazed that I have the chance to invest in these precious girls.
It has become apparent to me that no matter how many details or vivid descriptions I give, I can never truly express the fullness in my heart that comes from being in this place.
Tonight I will dream about fireplaces and snow softly falling on dad's shiny red truck, and cinnamon dolche lattes. Each day I wake up I anticipate another day closer to my flight home for Christmas, and yet, truth be known, the dreams in Wainfleet will surely be filled with different kinds of dreams... dreams about dusty feet, mist over mountains, giggling brown babies and tap tap rides. Dreams about creole conversations, children clinging to my skirt while we walk to kids church, sunsets over the sea, and the sound of hurried flip flop steps entering the classroom.
May the Lord receive all of the glory for guiding me on this path and revealing Himself in the 'whispers' of these moments He pre-destined me to dream.