Where do I begin?
“We were made to be part of a great adventure. One that is SHARED. We want it not merely for adventures sake but what it requires of us FOR others.”
Art plays a huge role in my life and is a constant thread in my own story. Three years ago it led me straight to my current job as a kindergarten teacher and to my friend, Nan Deal. As our friendship grew, she shared stories of her son, Connor Lee Deal, his passing, their grief, and the creation of the Connor Creative Art Center in Ghana. In an effort to understand my sweet friends grief on a deeper level, I devoured Pam Cope’s book, Jantsen’s Gift, and I was hooked. I wanted to go, serve alongside my friend in honor of her beautiful boy and wrap my arms around those kids.
So, the question is – how can you condense a Grand Canyon type experience into a 500 word or less blog post? The answer is – you can’t.
I do know that the Lord wants us to DREAM big, which was our art theme for the week. I think when we DREAM, it is like a love letter to HIM (Proverbs 16:3).
When I saw the art center on the horizon and pulled onto the care center campus, the children ran to our van to greet us. I realized immediately this place was sacred ground. These children, with the brightest smiles you have ever seen, welcomed these oburonis with open arms. These were the children I had seen in flyers, on information packets and on social media, in the flesh. The stories I had heard and read about, now had living, breathing souls; and they were right in front of me. It was the real deal.
I would spend the next 7 days with these children; painting, coloring, drawing, teaching them old recess games I played in elementary school, sharing treats, and just being with them. My favorite times were when I would answer their funny questions and when they would share their stories. Because, at the end of the day, we all just really want to be seen and heard.
Around day 3, Nan looked at me said, “I don’t think you are going home. How am I going to get you on the plane?” It was unexplainable. My heart felt at home, among these children who had indescribable joy but had suffered unimaginable trauma.
Do you know what happened? They actually rescued and restored me. How could that be? Here I was pridefully thinking, I’m headed across the world in an attempt to serve and heal others and …the opposite happened! In the words of Pam, “maybe the answer to grief or feeling lost is to give and love recklessly and passionately; and so I did. I made a decision to love them recklessly and passionately. During those 7 days, my heart was split wide open. It will never be the same.
As we drove away for the last time, I felt the Lord’s comfort and peace because I know my work there is not finished. I know upon my return to the US, it’s time to hit the ground running and allow the Lord to lead me to the next thing, be it raising money for a fence for the campus, a new vehicle for David… whatever. I am open and ready. Lord, I am yours because these children are your children, created in your image. Use me.
We have a marked race and CANNOT miss it because of fear. I encourage you, reader, to risk something. Something big. A BIG DREAM. We serve such a BIG GOD, which requires our dreams and hopes to be just as big.
To the children who now hold a piece of my heart in Ghana: Until I see you next summer God’s precious ones, I love you.
Visit TouchALifeKids.org/Give to find out more about how you can make a difference in the lives of these children.