I never want to forget that moment of Jimmy playing baseball with Nano, the orphan we support, using simply a stick and a handful of rocks. And every time I see the picture, or watch the video , I find tears rolling uncontrollably down my face.
I loved how anytime Nano would go to play, he’d bring me whatever was in his hands at the time to hold for him. Even if I wasn’t nearby, he’d search to find me, simply so I could keep his things safe. I could see how he trusted me. It may seem silly, but holding his stuff felt a whole lot like he was allowing me to hold his heart.
When I first met him, he wouldn’t even look into my eyes. This time, he wouldn’t look away.
Last time, I wasn’t sure he was able to smile. This time, his laughter could be heard houses away.
And each time we stood to leave his side, he’d quickly ask with a sadness in his eyes, “Do you have to go back to your home now?” And each time I reassured him that we were just going to the bathroom, or to help a child, or back to our hotel…promising always, we’d be back. And each time I’d return, I’d find and hug him, reminding him we always keep our promises.
When the final day came and we had to answer his sad questioning eyes that yes, this time we actually did have to go back home, I reminded him that just as we had been before, we’d continue to come back.
Jimmy took him aside, a final father and son moment, and shared with him all our hopes and dreams for his future. How we love him, how Pastor Joel loves him, and how rules and expectations aren’t bad but just another way to show that we care and we want the best for his life. Jimmy encouraged him to be faithful in going to church and in learning more about the love that Christ has for him, and then with his arm around Nano, together they prayed.
It’s true when I say this trip wasn’t about poverty for me. It wasn’t about fixing them or their lives and then coming home feeling accomplished of doing a “good deed” in the comfort of my own community.
Instead, as God would have it…as unprepared for it as I was, it became all about vulnerability and building deeper relationships and trust.
Each time we go, incredibly, it becomes more and more authentic. Which is exactly why I keep going back. This is why I want more. I need more. And I pray over and over and over that somehow God will continue to use us in serving and doing missions work.
Here in the Dominican and wherever else He may call us to go.