The majority of my day was spent painting butterflies on walls while simultaneously attempting to ensure that the girls in my care didn’t pull any shenanigans (which of course they did, haha) Today also included time-outs, scolding, rationing toilet paper, overseeing adequate bed-making/floor sweeping/clothes folding, laughing, feeling a baby move inside his 12-year-old Momma’s belly, crying, cuddling, dancing, being silly, briefly yelling & later apologizing, exercise punishment, taking away toys punishment, sweep the floor again punishment, (wow I sound harsh haha) tickling, praying, cooking, singing, begging children to please for heaven’s sake just take. a. bath. already, listening, eating tortillas, and spending about 5 minutes alone.
THIS is my Christmas present from God, and I LOVE it [ ME ENCANTA! = ) ] This Christmas… didn’t end up being my second in Colombia, but instead my very first Navidad in MEXICO! As it turned out.. the majority of the ministry I work with in Bogota takes a winter break over Christmas so that people can visit home, and I wasn’t needed in Colombia for an entire month, although I had just arrived. When I was told this, I was all “Umm, God? Whhaaa?!.” but when I calmed down enough to hear His voice, it became clear, “I’m giving you this time, as a gift, so that you can do something different.” And after a lot of thinking and a lot of praying I knew exactly where we both wanted me to spend this month.
Casa Hogar Alpha & Omega, my Mexican home! Wahooo!
I arrived on December 14th, and it was super fun because the two men I talked with before I came didn’t tell anyone else.. which meant that upon seeing my lovely self, I was either greeted with 1. Screams 2. Ten seconds of mouths wide open in shock followed by the words “Brita! I thought you were a ghost!” or 3. Hugs & hugs & hugs & hugs. It was really funny, like seventy different mini surprise parties, ahaha.
So when I went to talk to Obed about where I would stay/how I could help he was like “We could really use your help taking care of the little girls while you’re here, if you want to do that…?” To which my own mouth fell open in shock and my own eyes became “wide as saucers” as they say. Because, DO I WANT TO?! Do I want to take care of the little girls I used to take care of, the little girls I think about every single day, the little girls who still call me Mami?! UMMM YES!
He had told me that there would be surprises, and the biggest surprise was that two of the little girls who I used to take care of, one of whom had left while I worked here and another who left after me.. two little girls who I never thought I would see again, WERE BACK! To see them both after spending so much time wondering and worrying and praying for them.. was such an amazing and unexpected blessing. I went to sleep that night so full of joy and excitement and wondering “God, is this a dream..?!”
It’s three weeks later and it’s amazing how easy it was for both myself and the girls for me to step back into this role. What I struggled the most with was wondering if this could even be good for them, for me to come and then leave again just like I always do, but then this wise lady named Grandma offered a different perspective: “..but you always come back, and you know for those girls it’s an amazing lesson for them to learn that someone they love, and who loves them, can leave… but always come back.” And this is true because each of them have parents who have left and then never came back. Thanks G’ma.
This January I celebrated my 4th anniversary of my very first visit to Casa Hogar Alpha & Omega, and I can honestly say that there has not been a single day in these past four years that I have not thought about that orphanage. To spend Christmas there didn’t feel strange at all.. because even though I missed my family in Minnesota, the people at Casa Hogar have become my family as well. It was such an incredible gift from God to be able to take care of those girls again, and yes, incredibly hard to leave them again as well. Maybe I’ll find out I’m wrong one day when I give birth to my own babies, but honestly.. I can’t imagine loving a child any more than I love Mina, any more than I love Yessenia, any more than I love Maria.. and I know it’s because it’s God who pours His love for them into me.. and into the others who work at Casa Hogar, because those kids are worthy of being loved just as much as every child who is being raised by their parents.
So one of the other wonderful things that happened while I was in Poza Rica is that THE AMERICANS CAME! Haha the kids always make fun of me because I get just as excited as they do about the mission teams that come to visit every year, but let me tell you.. it is worth the excitement! The first time I went to Poza Rica I was one of those Americans, and this year I was so happy because I was able to see so many people that I hadn’t seen since that trip, people who have been loving me, praying for me, encouraging me, and sending me money ever since. It was so beautiful to see each of them and also to meet new Americans!
It occurred to me on Christmas that it was my first Christmas ever that I didn’t have a single gift to open, and I was totally fine with that, it was just a “hmm, this is different” kind of realization. Well.. every January the group that comes gives a Christmas party for the kids, the teenagers, and also.. the workers. It was so fun to get all dolled up and spend
that evening chatting in English and playing games, so fun. Also that evening.. there were gifts! I wasn’t expecting to receive a gift.. but oh I did! And as I opened it I could hear God, and he was like, “You didn’t care about not opening a single Christmas gift this year.. but I wanted you to have one anyway.” One of the best (and most humbling) things about missions is having to let go of your independence.. and learn how to let God take care of you, to provide for every single need, and sometimes even for wants.
As 2012 began I asked God about what the year would hold, and He replied clear as bell: “challenges.” Holy mole He was right. This year I did the same, and the word I heard was “grace.” I don’t know what He meant by that, but I know I can feel His grace upon me.. and I know I need more of it, to continue loving more kids and pouring out my whole heart to serve Him.
I flew into Bogota on Monday night, and when I finally got my suitcase and made it through customs (without anyone confiscating my tortillas!) and walked out into the mass of people waiting for their loved ones… three new amigas who had come to meet me began to applaud me… purposefully being silly and purposefully making a slight scene.. ahaha. And as I was squished between them in the taxi on our way home I felt so perfectly exactly where I was supposed to be, and I felt so clearly God being like “this is what it feels like to be exactly in the center of my will.”
So here I am, exactly where I am to be, and I’m nervous for everything that’s to come, and I’m thankful for everything that has been before, but mostly I just feel blessed to be me, living every day with Him. Yep, I think that’s what I want to say.
“There are lives I can imagine without children, but none of them have the same laughter & noise.” -Storypeople