Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready to move in to a small village where we will likely be the main event every day. Recently we were driving through "Pine Hill" and Clay stopped to go into a small store to buy a coke. (A great reason to stop and chat.) I stayed in the car with the kids, trying to be inconspicuous. It didn't take long for people to walk by, stop, and peer in to the windows to catch a glimpse of the FOUR white kids. The people were not shy about looking, either.
Later, Clay stopped at another store. This time he left the windows open. There were at least 9 kids peeking in to look at us at one time. The peeking is one thing...then I heard Ryan say, "I don't want anyone else to touch me!" I realized we were all beginning to feel like an exhibit at the local zoo. How will I ever handle this constant observation? How will my kids handle the people constantly reaching to touch their hair? Or hug them? And then there's the kisses...I realized that Ellie has developed an amazing "duck and run" escape technique!
The next day we went back to visit. I'll admit that I was feeling a bit apprehensive...overwhelmed. We began the visit in the town square where we ran into a man who works for the state police. (A good friend to have!) We've seen this man on every trip to "Pine Hill," and every time he has welcomed us. This time he invited us to a cup of coffee at the local restaurant. Since the restaurant is right on the square, we let the big kids run and play with the kids who were playing soccer while we visited.
I continue to be amazed by the people of this community. They are so kind, so open. I spent most of the morning visiting with Isabela who owns the restaurant. She's the mother of two girls who are now married. She has a three year old granddaughter. And she has opened her home to her 13 year-old neice and her 6 month-old baby. Isabela's husband has diabetes and is very sick. He's already had one leg amputated, and no longer can get out of bed.
We watched the clouds blow down the hill that afternoon. It was amazing to walk in a cloud! The kids ran and jumped, and were surprised that they got wet when it wasn't even raining. We pray for this community of "Pine Hill." They are so full of needs. Most women still cook over wood fires. Their teeth are rotting from malnutrition. And many are lulled into a sense of eternal security, thinking that they're good enough to go to Heaven. But too few have a relationship with the Father and Son.
It's during these moments, that I am reminded why the Lord has brought me here, to these people.