The feelings are fast and thick. Tumultuous. Like a fishing boat in the waves.
But instead of having little faith, I try to be calm. Jesus is in my boat. And even though I am leaving behind so many beautiful souls, names I forget to match to faces, I cannot forget the time I’ve spent here. The hearts Jesus is growing here. And the souls that reach out to God.
I am leaving the desert for good. For so long I couldn’t have been happier to get out of this place. The song performed by The Animals had never been more perfect. Until God sat me down and fixed my attitude. And then He broke my heart.
Little Ernestine was in my life from my second day here. And it took me three weeks to actually find her. Because I wasn’t paying attention. And when I did, she gave me the sweetest gift.
Ernestine, like the other 269 kids, lives on site. Once a month she goes home for a weekend. She hasn’t seen her father since 2014, her mom since earlier this year. Instead, she stays with her two aunties, a cousin, and three siblings. The donated clothes fit her, but the school uniforms need attention. And she is still a happy, beautiful soul.
We met day two, on a hike up the dunes. She kept track of my water bottle and held my hand as she walked with me. The next time we spent time together she asked to read my Bible. That became our time together. Every day after lunch we would read the Bible – she in English and myself in Afrikaans. She taught me pronunciation of words and I taught her the meaning of what she read. Her English reading skills are strong but her comprehension needs work. My reading skills are poor in Afrikaans, my comprehension even worse. But we sat patiently with one another and read the one thing that binds all believers – The Bible.
Today as I say goodbye, i can’t help but hope to see her again. I know I’m promised Heaven and I hope she continues to believe in Him and we can see each other there. I would adopt that kid if that was even an option. The love Jesus has allowed into my heart is breaking it, but you can only be hurt by love when it’s true. Between now and my next moment with her I will pray for her future. I will pray that God will give her strength that only He can provide. That He will grow her into a strong and beautiful Kavongo woman, even though today she is an innocent 11 year old. I look forward to seeing her again in this world, if it is His way. And if not, I hope to see her in the next.
All of this happens because I let God, rather than trying to do it myself. He needed to break my attitude to break my heart with love. She isn’t going to be the last of His children to grab my heart, I’m sure. But she is the first one to do so when I can understand it. And I certainly won’t forget that.
So, Mom, do one thing for me, please. Watch over her? She’s a sweet little girl and she needs a real mom like the one I had.