I'm trying to remember what I've done in the last week...it's been a mix of different things. I started doing a behaviour chart with the older children- if they were good on the school run they got to choose a special sticker to put on the chart, and if they got three stickers they were allowed to go and choose some sweets on Friday! Problem is, we can't just keep giving them sweets all the time! I've fallen in love with the children, and although obviously they can be hard work, they are so special and they all have little individual personalities which are growing. One little boy who's about two years old is really coming out of himself. When I first arrived a month ago he was very quiet and withdrawn, but now he is smiling and making squealy sounds! In his little voice, he says slowly 'Bye byeeeee...see you neeeext time.'
God creates places of safety and sanctuary, physical places and spiritual places, and it's amazing to see how He is working out His purposes here. On Friday I helped run the Rainbow Smiles club for adolescents with HIV with Tim. It's hard to take over from someone else who was doing such a good job (!), but I'm looking forward to getting to know the children who come.
One things I'm learning is that although I may find it shocking and difficult to see people who have so little in terms of material wealth, the root of the need is not simply that they need a nicer house or more possessions. I don't mean to say that this wouldn't be a good thing, or to try and justify how it is that some of us live in luxury whilst others scrape by. But being poor leaves deeper marks- the lack of education, motivation, medical aid, and opportunity. I also remember reading this quote from Mother Teresa: 'The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.' When The Village of Hope is looking to place children into families, it aims to put them back into their own community, as do many other similar charities. This means that they're unlikely to gain material wealth, but this is not the heart of the matter. Instead, the aim is to place them with a family who loves them, and hopefully who provide for them by encouraging them in their education, understanding their medical needs, and spiritually supporting them.
I've now been here a month and it's gone so quickly! At a church small group meeting someone I didn't know was praying for me, and in their prayer they prophesised and said that I felt like I was riding a wild horse, but that God wanted me to stay on the horse, not get off. This is often how I've felt this first month- that I'm just about clinging on to the horse's mane,and at times I'd really like to dismount! When I've felt like this, what has kept me going is knowing that God has put me here. Although I know it's good to have confidence in your own abilities as well, I think the ultimate stronghold is having confidence in God's soverign ability to work in each and everyone of our lives.