I keep forgetting just how blessed I am.
I walk blindly on and bury myself in all the yuck.
I say bury? But in fact I'm not buried at all, it is just how I feel.
God wipes my eyes clean, and once more I see past the yuck to all the
beauty, all the love and all those hundreds and thousands of blessings.
One of the days in the Dominican Republic, after we had finished work on
the building site and eaten our lunch, we climbed aboard the bus and
travelled to this fenced in house, 'Casa Nazaret' or Nazareth House.
I was last off the bus, and followed the other person in, not knowing what to expect and feeling very nervous.
Nazareth House is an orphanage.
I walked through, not really looking around, not taking anything much
in. The one thing I noticed were the enormous piles of washing all over
the place, but apart from that I was looking and not seeing.
I walked into this room that had bars for windows, to let the air in,
where the rest of the team was, there were kids in there too. No-one
really knew what to do, we all sort of stood around, there were toys
lining the walls, not dissimilar to my brother's lounge, but I could
feel the disconnect between us and the children and the toys.
The guitar and the bongo drums were pulled out, songs were asked for,
and a new feeling of peace came and took the place of the disconnection.
It was beautiful.
We all sang together.
'Blessed be your name... when I'm found in that desert place... when the
road's marked with suffering and there's pain in the offering...blessed
be your name...every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise,
when the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say, blessed be the name
of the Lord, blessed be your name...'
And the toys came out, and the children loved to play catch, and the
balloons were modelled into animals and hats, and the bongos were
drummed louder and louder, and everyone just kept singing.
And it was beautiful.
There are 18 children living at the orphanage, with a range of
disabilities from none at all, to not being able to hardly move.
Mariarmi and Chorrito, two sisters who don't have a Mum or a Dad, I
learnt a lot from Mariarmi. 5 years old, and so very, very full of
If anyone has a reason to bury themselves in a hole, and hide from life,
she does, but the point is she really, really doesn't. She is so
animated, when she talks she speaks Spanish, which I don't speak, but I
could understand what this little girl was saying to me, just from the
way in which she said it.
Her smile went further than from ear to ear, it flowed off of her face
and sang to the room, it had a glow that lit everyone up. She knows how
to live, to truly, truly live.
Mariarmi is a beautiful little girl.
Sister Mercedes runs the orphanage. She is the only volunteer there,
when she can afford to, she pays some others to help her. All the
children call her, 'Mami' and you can just see that they all absolutely,
completely and utterly love her.
Sister Mercedes told us her story. How she got to where she is, and to be honest I don't remember every detail, in fact I don't remember as much about it as I would like.
What I remember most of all is her telling us how when God had told her to set up an orphanage, she just did not want to.
But in the end she went ahead and did it anyway.
She did it anyway.
Against what she wanted.
She did it anyway.
There are so many things I want from life, but what if they aren't in God's plan? What if what He says to do, I DON'T WANT TO DO? And, to be honest, I don't, there is hardly an ounce of me that wants to be patient and to wait, and these are the things God has told me to do.
She did what she didn't want to do, because God told her to.
The trust in doing that is almost unbelievable, the selflessness, and beauty in it all is truly stunning.
I learnt a lot from Sister Mercedes, from her servant-heart, her willingness, her drive to keep going, her complete trust in God, her humility, but most of all it really was this doing what she didn't want to do that struck me.
Sister Mercedes was happy, I think it was more deep-rooted than that even, I think she had joy inside her. She loved being Mami, and she loved each one of the children for who they were.
I will never forget Sister Mercedes, the work she does is amazing, and the fact that she started doing it against her will makes it even more incredible.
I want to continue to learn from her, because she is amazing.
Seeing past the yuck and surrendering it all to God, for He is worthy to be trusted.
Living life, for it is there to be lived.
Dreaming bigger, because that is where to go.