Have you ever visited somewhere and when you come back you can't stop thinking about it? And I don't mean when you take a vacation with your spouse to a quiet beach and long to be back there after returning to the chaos of everyday life.
I'm talking about a longing to visit a place that touched your heart so much you want to go back. To see the people you met again. To see God's creation. To be away from all of the chaos a first world life holds so you can soak in God's presence. To hold hands and live life with people that do not know about the saving power grace holds.
That kind of love sticks with me as I left pieces of my heart back in Asia.
We knew God was calling us to go on this trip as a family. To bring both of our boys along side us. To share our family with them.
What we didn't know what the impact it would make.
We were told by others that on previous trips, they were greeted with scowls. With hard hearts. With disgust.
They hated us. And there are some reasons they rightfully can. And others that aren't built on truth. But regardless, we are the enemy. Isn't that always what Satan does? He builds walls through hate, anger, distrust, lies, and more lies.
But what he does not have power over is love.
Christ died as the ultimate love sacrifice.
We show our love for God by our love for others.
And there is no greater love than that of a child!
Look at these pictures.
These are the pictures of love.
What children can do through a smile is knock down walls in an instant that have been built up by the deceiver for years.
When we arrived, a dear friend of ours told me that people would physically take our youngest son out of my arms, but they wouldn't steal him. (How comforting!) They would just be drawn to him and desire to hold him.
And boy was he right.
Young and old alike wanted to hold him.
They wanted to make him smile, laugh, and giggle.
And because of the extrovert that he is, he gladly went.
Without hesitation he hugged them.
Kissed their cheek.
Loved on them.
And in turn, we had the privilege of witnessing the beauty of raw humanity through love.
They hugged him back.
They kissed him.
They loved on him.
We were no longer separated as them and us,
we were one in love.
When we visited a local village to see a historical fisherman's house, we passed by a neighborhood. As we walked by, people gathered just to watch us. I was able to take a quick photo. I love how they were peaking over the fence and I wished so much that we could go join them. That the walls were not separating us any longer.
Maybe one day...
One of our guides especially fell in love with him.
She doted on him and would mimic his phrases, especially "mama! mama! mama!" And he loved on her as well. He even taught her how to do the "secret" handshake his big brother does with him. I love the last picture of them in the middle of that, giving each other a fist pump.
My favorite moment, however, was walking through the open market.
Pictures are not allowed here so I can only give my description to you.
There are rows and rows of merchants selling anything and everything. Our family of four was close together towards the end of our time walking through it. We had been inside the building and just walked outside to head back to the front. All of a sudden, one of the college students with us told me to stop and look up.
The rows were at least 8 deep and as long as you could see wide. A crowd had started to gather. Mouths were gaping wide at us and smiles were emerging. They all started waving and smiling.
Lex waved back and with that action laughter and glee erupted.
That day changed me.
In an instant I saw the power of a child's smile.
I wished we could shake hands, and love on each and every one of them.
I wish I could speak with them and learn more about them.
But we had to keep moving.
That day, part of my heart stayed behind in that market.
And hopefully one day I will visit again.
Of course, who couldn't resist getting a hello from this cutie?
I am so glad we took our boys with us.
Was it hard?
for oh so many reasons!
But it was worth every penny raised, tears shed, restlessness, fear, uncomfortableness, and more because had we not taken them, we would never had experienced what God did that week.
And that made it worth all of it!
On a side note -
Lex learned how to say hello in Korean when they were saying hello to him. As soon as we stepped in the market, he said hello back to a merchant. As she shrilled with glee, she handed him a piece of candy. Then 3 more did the same. He started saying hello to everyone we stepped in front of and all of them gave him something! It was like we were trick or treating in the market. I couldn't stop laughing! We had a bag full of treats by the time we left and he had learned that saying this word would get him stuff. They eat a lot of tomatoes for dessert so he had a few of them in the bag. Unfortunately, he HATES tomatoes. So when he would take a bite of one (before I could get it in the bag so we could wash it) he would spit it back out. Luckily they didn't take offense and just laughed about it.
And in case you were wondering, here is a picture of our team while we were there. Isn't the background majestic? It is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited in my lifetime.
I'll save my next post to focus on how they reacted to Kiir.
It is definitely its own post in the making!
To be continued in the very near future...