I have just returned home from a 10 day trip to Burkina Faso, Africa. I saw hunger, disease, hope, joy, generosity. I felt hot, dusty, thirsty, loved, appreciated, encouraged, hospitality, inspired. I was filled with heart-breaking experiences that consumed my heart with compassion. I wish I could put it into one simple post and tell you what what all this means. But I cannot.
This morning, I shared with the FaithWorks! children pictures of some of the things they have been able to provide in Burkina Faso. Pictures of a well they provided the funds for to provide clean water to a village. Pictures of hot shots being delivered so people can be saved after a snake bite. Pictures of a soccer ball being given to a local pastor so the children in his village could play a game. And pictures of children holding toys to be creative with.
I had to explain that the children, especially those who come to Tabitha House, have to be taught what to do with toys! You should have seen the chins drop. But I was also able to share with them that it was through an answered prayer that all of these toys even made it to Burkina Faso.
You see, the Sunday prior to our trip, as I watched the pile of Legos and blocks grow as families kept bringing bags and boxes of stuff in, I placed my prayer card in the FaithWorks! offering bucket with these words written on it: “Please God, stretch our suitcases.” I knew that along with the toys, we were bringing over 500 hot shots, over 500 pillowcase dresses, at least 20 soccer balls, a flannel board set, as well as gifts and medicine for the missionaries and village pastors.
I went to find Pastor Herb that morning and walked him to the FaithWorks! Center, making sure to say, “Now don’t have a heart attack!” before opening the door for him to look at the children’s offering.
Tuesday morning, we each packed an extra suitcase to take on the trip with us. But when we thought we could pack no more, there was still a pile of dresses and a pile of Legos. And the question was asked, “Which do we leave behind?” I was a big girl and said we could leave some toys behind, knowing that there were kids somewhere near that would love having them. Even though I was not sure how I would tell our kids that. Even though that was the last thing I wanted to say.
Doug Fecher, Clay Church’s Executive Director, was great at packing and weighing and calculating and repacking and reweighing to make sure our bags were not over the allowed 50 pounds. Before you knew it, we were rearranging and stuffing and refolding and shoving and all we had left was a stack of children’s books. Looked to be about nine books. And there were nine of us.
I quickly said, “If we each take one of those and put it in our carry on, we’re done!” (I may have even jumped up and down as I said that!)
And Pastor Herb quickly said, “You know what the problem with you is, Karen?! You trust God!”
I could point to our offering bucket yesterday morning, and tell the FaithWorks! children that what they write down to share with God every week, is prayed over. It is prayed over by me, by Pastor Herb, by our prayer team. And that God does indeed hear what we share. And He does indeed answer prayer.
I cannot say, however, why those toys needed to get to Burkina Faso. But there are children there this week, who for a brief time will be able to play. Something they do not have time for. Play. A luxury, really. Something actually, that will need to be taught to them. But will bring them a time to laugh, try new things, pretend, dream, create, start over, spill, build. A time to forget – for a moment – the grumble in a tummy.