THEY STEAL YOUR HEART
As any visitor to Graceland can testify, even a casual one, I love Africa. I pray for it. I long for it. I dream of it. And one of the main reasons it holds such a special place in my affection is because of the children.
Amanda Larsen is a passionate 20-something who is spending a few precious months in Mali. This is not her first time to Africa. She has traveled elsewhere including my beloved Swaziland. There are many differences in the two nations, but one thing is holding true for both, the children grab her heart and hold on hard. Here is a recent blog entry she posted about one such incident:
The longer I am here, the more I am falling in love with the Malians. How unique and precious are all of God's children. How creative He is in all His work! He baffles my mind and I'm so amazed at who He is while I sit here and type this.
Yesterday, I was walking back from lunch at the Camara's house and all these children were hanging by the gate like usual. Except there was one girl who I'd never seen come into the compound. There are a group of women who sell peanuts at a stand right outside our gate under a tree. I knew this was one of their girls because I had seen her sit with them before. She was carrying a bowl of rice that she was eating...except there were so many rocks in the rice...it was dirty. Her hair was all sectioned off into squares and wrapped into small buns- about 8 all over her head. She was wearing a too-small blue and stained baby dress, and some very old ratty underwear. I held my hands out to her and shockingly she held her hands out as well. The hard thing is, there are a select few smaller kids and babies who will actually let us hold them, so I was shocked for her to want to come to me. I picked her up and walked back around the corner where our house sits. All of our chairs are usually set under the mango tree for shade. I sat down with her and let her finish her rice. I grabbed an apple and gave her part of it and filled up some water in a cup for her (water---"ji" in bambara). She did not hesitate to take food from me. But she showed no emotion the whole entire time I held her. She would just look at me and back at everyone else. Later on I took her inside of our house (we aren't really supposed to but there were no other kids around and she is young enough I think it was okay), and I let her use chalk on our floor (cement floor) and she was done with it pretty quickly and put it back in the bag and made sure i zipped it up properly. I sat down with her on the floor and blew up a ball for her (world map on it) and let her hold it and play with it. I walked with her around our house. She continually followed me and looked oh so precious, and "perfect" in this house (if you know my heart, you know why I say this). The second time God has reminded me of how much I want to be a mother; a biological mother- who knows! but a mother. All I hear Him say is "love them". I see Jesus in them. When I went to pick her up to take her back outside, she FREAKED out! She didn't want to go outside. She wanted to stay inside the house, and I was like "great look what I have done now". So I fought against it and took her outside while she shook herself in my arms and cried. We sat back down under the mango tree for a while and she calmed down a bit. The dogs- Toupas and Sharbon, walked by and she flipped out again. I let her keep the world map ball and walked her back to her mom right outside the gate. As soon as she got back the bigger kids took the ball from her and started playing with it---oh how I knew this was going to happen!
Today I thought about her all day. Oh how I wanted to go out and grab her and bring her back in, but I was busy with French and other things. Later during the day, Christian and I were walking with "Grandma" and clean clothes back pass the gate and there were some kids so we started "karate" fighting with them for fun. AND making so much loud noise. All the "peanut ladies" walked to the gate and looked in at us and started laughing. Then here comes this girl! So beautiful, wearing such dirty, stained, and too small of clothing. I wanted to bathe her and clean her up, give her a manicure and just hold her in new clothes. I wanted to be able to say "she's mine" and I get to watch after her while she sleeps at night in the room next to me! Oh how hard it is to wait for such a longing desire. I found out her name today, but I don't know how to spell it. I barely know how to pronounce it, but I will figure it out one of these days!
Thanks for reading.
To see a photo of this precious little one and learn more about Amanda's experiences in Mali, go to her blog: