The beautiful thing about Maddi’s and my role here is that we are available to be servants in this ministry wherever they might need us. One of the ministry opportunities that has been an incredible joy to me (Anna) is working with the children. Our first Sunday here we helped one of the young missionaries, who has become our dear friend, take the kids out to play in the park behind the church.
(One of the precious MK's here. We told her an Evangeline story Mama! She loved it.)
I was amazed and challenged by these kids. All of them spoke at least two languages, and most spoke three or four. I know first-hand the challenges and joys of growing up as a child of parents in overseas ministry. You are able to learn so much at such a tender age, and there is a deep joy and wisdom that comes from a good attitude and a willingness to learn from the servants around you. I see both that joy and that wisdom in these kids, and it makes me want to hold them close and thank them for the amazing gift they are and will continue to be for the kingdom.
We have also been given several opportunities to work with the children of the immigrant women. These children also have a unique, often difficult outlook on life; they have been taken from their homes, their extended family, and their heart language to a country that is not quite sure it is ready for them. Spain, like many western countries, still struggles with a great deal of racism. As we watched and prayed over these kids in a park yesterday, my heart was overwhelmed with love for them: for their simple, easy joy, and for their sincere desire to accept and care for each other in a world that often chooses not to care for them.
Although I could tell a million stories about a million personal encounters with these kids, I will limit myself to one…for now. Yesterday, as the beautiful women who come to the center chatted and made jewelry with the women from our team, my flat mate Leigh and I entertained the children in one of the other classrooms. One of the boys, who could not have been more than five, was from Africa and didn’t seem to understand Leigh when she tried to speak to him in Spanish. I slipped back to the main room to ask his mom where they were from and, after a great deal of hand gesturing and translation, I learned that they were from Equatorial Guinea. This sweet boy spoke none of the languages of the people around him: no Spanish, no Arabic, no English, and no French. He was completely lost in the world around him. So he became my boy; we spoke nonverbally through simple sign language, smiles, and gentle touch. He became so much more comfortable when we stopped trying to speak to him in a language that, he was reminded daily, he didn’t understand. All that this sweet boy needed was someone to smile at him, to pay attention to him despite the discomfort of not being able to communicate. It made me thankful all over again for the ministry here and their commitment to making the transition for these immigrants, both linguistically and culturally, as easy as possible. That is the love of Jesus in action on a daily basis.
Pray for these children. Their lives are hard, but the wisdom and joy we could learn from them is overwhelming. They are the daily physical example of Christ’s words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”