Miracles So Great

We walked around the corner, feet covered in red dirt. The squared off section of houses surrounded an open courtyard where two tiny little girls greeted us with wide grins. They held dry rolls in their hands and they squealed with delight at a black duck waddling around their bare, dusty feet.

They looked up at us in wonder, our white faces a stark contrast to everything they’re used to seeing. Laundry hung in long, damp lines and we waited for the girl’s mother to leave her station selling fish so she could join us.

Ducking into her home, it took a second for my eyes to adjust and my heart beat to slow. We stepped into a room that was roughly 7×7. A bed, crudely built out of long wooden planks and filled with rags, sat beneath a strip of cloth hung hammock style across the room. A bed for four.

And that was it. That was the house. Meals are cooked in a pot outside over a fire. A small pot of potatoes sat on a stoop outside the door. Fabric hung in place of window panes. This is a life I have never seen before.

It has wrecked me.

I’m struggling a bit to find the right words tonight. I saw absolute poverty today. A mother with three small children and no family nearby to help. She gets up before the sun every day and leaves her babies alone. It’s a necessity if she wants to feed them.

I didn’t know or understand how to take in everything I saw and heard. We left and walked the short distance to the local market where this mother works long, hard hours every day buying and selling fish. Enough to pay the rent and hopefully buy food for the waiting mouths.

Janet, who could not have been more than three years old, clung to my hand and lead me down the rocky path with such confidence that I found myself amused. But also sad. She’s a toddler with a wide, mischevious grin. How does she know this well worn path so well?

Sweet Janet and the Jolly White Giant

This sounds like a hopeless story, doesn’t it? I assure you it is not. Because there’s more. The home we visited belonged to Mwajuma, a spunky ten year old who has had a loving and faithful sponsor for five years. As soon as we all sat down, Mwajuma proudly pulled out a smooth white envelope and reached inside, pulling out the precious letters and photos.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” we asked Mwajuma.

She grinned shyly. “A doctor,” she answered, almost in a whisper. “I love science and math.” Looking through the letters, I noticed one line written by her sponsor. “I’m so glad to hear you like Science,” the letter read. One simple phrase, written by faith.

Hope for a future.

We left the small city of Mwanza today to fly across the country to Arusha. As I sat on the plane, my head pressed against the cool glass, I watched in awe as we flew past Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the hot tears fell.

Our God is a God of miracles. The very God who fashioned that snow capped mountain in all its glory, lovingly fashioned Mwajuma. He knew her frame and the way that her lips would press together when she smiled. The God of miracles hasn’t forgotten Mwajuma. He does miracles so great.

When we landed, I wiped my cheeks and followed the group to the van where I continued to watch in awe as we drove past the African countryside. We came to the Country Office, where a staff of 66 people are dedicated to serving well the 65,419 children being served by Compassion in Tanzania. Before we began, they led us in a few songs of worship. One of the choruses went like this:

For you are great

You do miracles so great

There is no one else like You

There is no one else like You

Before leaving Mwajuma’s house, we asked her mother how we could be praying for her and the children. “Please just pray that Mwajuma will continue to learn so that she can one day follow God and become a doctor.”

Miracle.

We prayed and asked God to specifically pave the path for Mwajuma to become a doctor. When I lifted my head, I looked into the eyes of her mother who sat still on the bed, her hands folded beneath her chin. Her eyes were bright and wet and do you know what I saw in them? Just…take a guess.

Hope.

Mwajuma has hope. I know I’ve talked about hope a lot this week, but it’s alive. It is alive! I didn’t leave Mwajuma’s house feeling hopeless. I was shocked and I was sad, but I was not without hope.

Mwajuma's baby sister, Jackie. Eat. Her. With. A. Spoon.

I left the head Compassion Office even more buoyed by this idea of hope. The staff exudes the emotion. Praise spilled forth from their lips, not hopelessness. The hands and feet of Christ Himself in Tanzania, the staff are under the leadership and direction of Joseph Maila and they are living hope every single day.

Absolute poverty amidst absolute hope.

I confess, I’m still trying to reconcile those things. I want to do so much more now. For thirty-three years I’ve lived with the awareness of extreme poverty and I’ve prayed about it. I’ve given here and there. We’ve sponsored a child. But I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.

And now? Now I do. I’m without excuse anymore. The gap between awareness and action has to close. What does that mean? I’m not really sure. It feels a little cliche to sit here and write these things. Of course I’m going to feel a greater call to action while I’m right here in the midst of it all. I mean, I’ve been to church youth camps. I’ve seen how these things work…

But what happens when I return home to my comfortable bed, my large house, my grocery store and the steady paycheck that allows me to get whatever I want whenever I want?

What then?

Honestly, that is my challenge. Hope is slow. Even for me…

But I can tell you with confidence that I know where I’ll start. I will start by writing our sponsored child more often. I will encourage him and build him up and love him like he’s one of my own. It’s a start and though it feels so small, I promise…it’s not.

Because we have a God of miracles and He is still moving and working. There are an estimated 22,000,000 children under the age of 18 and the percentage of those children still living in extreme poverty is high. 65,419 children are already registered in the Compassion program here. Do you know what that means?!

It means God has a LOT of room to work miracles. Miracles so great.

So what about you? What is your call to action? Won’t you be a part of the miracle?

Sponsor-Compassion-International-Tanzania-500x70

Photos by Keely Scott

Follow along with the other bloggers here. Seriously. You want to read their stories…

Comments

  1. Karen says:

    What a powerful post! I have seen and experienced poverty like that, but it is SO easy to forget when I am sitting here in my excess! We are making some adjustments….and moving toward making even more. We have been talking about sponsoring one more child, but I don’t want to talk about it any more….I just want to do it!

    THANKS for sharing so clearly and honestly. May God ‘wreck’ us all!

  2. Oh, your words go straight to my heart. Powerful words that bring up strong emotions.

    Compassion has changed how I view everything. I know what this organization does. I know how much I have.

    This week I spent $40 on a blender. It was a battle to even allow myself to purchase this unecessary item. Why? Because that blender is also a month’s sponsorship. Or a Family Gift enough to provide income-generating supplies for one of our beloved families around the world.

    I have a short list of wants, but in the back of my mind I am always thinking of how we could grow our beautiful Compassion family. I think of people I know who live on modest incomes who have 40 or more sponsored children. I think that is amazing! Every purchase is weighed in terms of Compassion-currency.

    After all, we truly have “enough”.

    • I think there is such a balance we have to make. When we are aware of the need, it is necessary to take a little more time to think clearly through needs and wants. I certainly don’t think, nor do I want to imply, that we should feel guilty about every single purchase we make. But there is value in thinking through purchases clearly and weighing them out. :)

  3. hope is slow. even for me…
    that is what sticks out.
    Praise God for his patience…that He doesn’t give up on us when it comes to making us like His selfless Son. I wonder if it is harder to look like Jesus in the affluent culture we call home. It is a daily battle…spiritual warfare for sure. Praying Eric boldly leads us down the right path…the path of humilty, righteousness, and knowing God.

  4. Reading through tears… Thank you for all the wonderful updates. I think I’m going to go write a letter right now!!!

  5. hope is slow… perhaps slower here in north america where apathy is more common than action and where we drown in all of our materials.

    hope is the slowest for the rich and, well… i’m rich. all my family and friends are rich. everyone i know is rich so… what?

    means we have to work that much harder for hope.

    thanks so much for sharing, your posts this week have been absolutely beautiful. :)

  6. You left me at a complete loss for words today. Well, not a complete loss, but I decided to save what’s left to write to our sponsored kids. That shot of Mwajuma with her tidy little stack of letters – oh, how I ache to one day experience that face-to-face with Judei, Rehan and Kelly.

  7. love, love, love all these stories I”m hearing. Go forth and kiss some chocolate-y brown faces for me!

  8. We have sponsored a little girl from Tanzania for 4 years now, so reading all of the posts by the Compassion bloggers has been very meaningful for me. When I started reading this one it gave me a lump in my throat. See our girl’s name is Mwajuma as well. And even though she’s in another part of the country I could’t help but feeling such a deep connection with what I was reading. Thank you for the wonderful posts. When you visit those families, take in those wonderful smilies, and hug those beautiful children you carry a bit of all of us that sponsor children and especially those of us that sponsor Tanzanian children with you. Hug them just one second longer for me. :)

  9. Kevin K says:

    Thanks, Kelli, for giving voice to the Miracle that God allows us to participate in. Your posts wreck me, too. So much that I can’t imagine what I’d do if I was there in person. I pray we will each come to realize not only our overwhelming wealth but the joy that He promises when we give of it to care for the orphan and the widow. Just heard a message today from Bill Hybels on this subject and I encourage everyone to read God’s promises in Isaiah 58: 6-12 when we give of ourselves in this way. Keep wreckin’ us with your amazing updates, Kelli. We need and want it!

  10. Wonderful words, Kelli. I love that word…hope. Thank you, Jesus, for putting it in our vocabularies.

  11. Thank you for sharing the hope you are witnessing despite what we would see as a desperate situation, living in our comfy far-away world we live in. I pray that many people are moved to help one child as they read all of your blog posts from this trip.

  12. “Hope is slow. Even for me…” You get it.
    Thank you for giving your all to these kids this week. You have definitely ministered to my heart. Thank you.

  13. Candy martin says:

    Your posts have been such a blessing this week, Kelli. You have allowed us to see Hope through your blogs. I have been humbled. I am so thankful that God allowed you to take this trip. I know that you have been on mission trips before. You always come home changed. $38 a month is less that we often spend eating at Frenchy’s! I love the picture of you with sweet Janet. Can’t wait to sit down and hear more stories when you get home. I love you and am so proud of you.

  14. Your Uncle Dusty gets prouder with every blog post. While not in Africa, the world God has called us to serve looks just like your pictures. Proud that you have learned that the greatest thing we bring to the world is HOPE, represented by $38 checks, a box of food, needed medications, relationship with the world outside our own. Consumerism has our world upside-down, making stuff more a priority than people. God’s richest blessings on you again today!

  15. Inspiring post, beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Bethany says:

    I read your words and come away encouraged and convicted. Thank you for letting the holy spirit speak through you!! (and I gotta say, your commenters are some of the wisest, most generous, kindest people I have ever “met”!!). :) .

  17. Hope lives!

    When I first became a sponsor almost 18 years ago I was a college student. I quickly saw the impact sponsorship had on Judith’s life and wanted to do more. But I was not in a position to sponsor more children. So I became an advocate….it’s a very logical next step for those wanting to do more. After 16 years of being an advocate, I’ve been able to see hundreds of kids sponsored through my effort and God’s help.

    And praise be to God, He’s also allowed our family of sponsored children to grow and grow and grow.

    It wasn’t an overnight change, but one that happened slowly and steadily – like hope.

  18. I’m again following this Bloggers trip and blogging along with you as part of the Compassion Bloggers, but I don’t frequently comment on your posts. I just take clips and share pictures and what I see and learn and love on my own blog, and keep sending people to read yours (though my blog is not widely read at all).

    Why am I commenting on this one? Well, mostly because I absolutely LOVE how you keep showing us the hope. Hope is a powerful word… it’s The Word for my blog… Hope is Calling. That’s the biggest reason I love following these trips…because I see the hope there, and the God of hope working, and if He can bring hope and joy to these parents in these circumstances, then He can bring Hope to anyone. And these children who have learned and now where hope is TRULY to be found teach us oh-so-much if we’re willing to learn.

    So please know that at least one more reader loves you sharing the hope you see anywhere and everywhere!

    Love in Christ,
    Katie
    http://www.HopeIsCalling.com

  19. Thank you for this and all of the wonderful posts this week! Thank you for reminding us of beautiful hope and the miracles of our great God! The song you referenced was all I could think of as I read this post, and when I saw the lyrics the previously forbidden tears I tried so hard to hold back began to flow freely. Thank you!!

  20. Beautiful! Miracles so great.

    I love that you prayed specifically that God would pave the way for her to be a doctor. It’s not too big for Him. I think that one prayer will buoy that family to continue with hope in Jesus.

    Thank you for sharing your day!
    a

  21. I am a Compassion Philippine staff and I was browsing thru the Compassion bloggers site and read your story. Eventhough as a staff, we know the extent of poverty with the Compassion children here in the Philippines and in the world, your story still brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing what you saw to people and allowing more people to sponsor God’s children in need.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Kelli won’t admit this, but she has an amazing gift for words. AMAZING.  She has a way of making the people around her feel what she is feeling and she finds a way to put to words the emotions that we cannot express.  Yesterday when we got to the Compassion offices in Arusha, Tanzania, we had the opportunity to worship with the staff, praying, and singing songs.  We were all moved by the experience, but Kelli captured the overall feeling in her post “Miracles So Great.” [...]

  2. [...] Miracles So Great | Minivans Are Hot [...]

  3. [...] flashing, hands raised, sounds blaring, we joined together in praise of the One who created us all. The one who still works miracles. The One who has not forgotten, has not let go, has not surrendered His [...]

  4. [...] take the time to experience some of Kelli’s journey to Tanzania. I especially loved her post, Miracles So Great. (Excerpt [...]

  5. [...] Am bigger than the mountain. I Am bigger than the cost. I Am the one who still does miracles so great. I Am bigger than your fears and doubts. I Am bigger than the [...]

  6. [...] Miracles So Great | Minivans Are Hot [...]

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