In just a few days I’ll be returning to Ouelessebougou, Mali. I can hardly wait. For any of you who might be interested, here’s an excerpt from my journal entry written on 5 February 2012:
The staff meeting went a couple of hours and so our plans for a church service/testimony meeting changed. Instead we sang “As I Have Loved You” and then had a prayer with all of us together around the table under the mango tree.
I had been thinking about some small thought I might share if we’d had time for a Sunday meeting. All through the morning I kept feeling quite emotional about those children yesterday. I thought about what Jesus would have done if he had visited that village. I could imagine him healing the young man who was off to the side in a hand-driven tricycle. His legs were twisted all backwards under him. He had such a perfect face and smile. Jesus would have straightened his body. I thought about the other sicknesses and hunger. He would have touched the growth on the side of the matron’s nose, and it would have gone. Perhaps he would have broken bread that would have filled them, leaving baskets behind. And there would probably have been a woman with an issue of blood, or other problem, who might have touched his robe with the faith to be healed. Perhaps he would have asked “who touched my robe?” as he did in that other place long ago.
Then I thought about the very little I have to offer. I can’t even speak words they can understand, but then my mind flooded with the faces of those Basa Village children and I remembered how their faces lit up when I smiled or winked at them, and how they crept closer and closer to me as I left the group to be with them and to single them out one by one, greeting them and taking their photos. And I remembered how I offered them my hand, which many were reluctant to touch at first, but as we “communicated” they began to flock around me, clinging to my hands and arms.
The powerful feeling came to me that I have no power to heal or to mend, or to feed, but I can love, and every single one of those children, who I touched one by one, left that day knowing that a stranger, a white woman, came and loved them, each one. I know they felt it, because I know I felt it. And maybe that was the best I could do, but it was something I Could do. I have no doubt that some day we will meet again, in a better place, and I will be accountable for how I might help them, in whatever small ways that may be. I want to be able to embrace them without regret because our paths have crossed and they have a place in my heart. And just as virtue went out of Jesus when the woman touched his robe, love went out of me when I touched them. I felt it go. And in Heavenly Father’s economy, what’s given is multiplied and returned –in a multiplicity of ways. I am not the same, having been here. The impact in their lives, from our love and from the work we do, we may never know, but we must not stop trying to help.