Not So little Things
There are some days that just fly by and the activity of the day care goes by practically unnoticed by me as the staff care for the practical in the moment needs and I focus on other activities. Every day there are many acts of caring lovingly provided for the children and moms – yet the compounding effect goes by without really hitting me.
But then there are days like today when the simple acts that our staff provide on a daily basis and the compounding effects of those simple acts hit me unexpectedly. I suddenly grapple with how those simple acts truly are having life transforming effects. They are not necessarily transforming events, but rather a series of small, loving actions that are building on top of each other to make a difference.
Take little Yurdanos. Six weeks ago we welcomed she and her mom into the project. She is tiny. At 13 months old she weighs 6.5 kg (14.3 lbs). She came to us with a nasty eye infection that had developed almost scale like scabbing over her eyes. She was listless. Her arm circumference classified her in the Danger category – she was very malnourished. And, Mom had no food to feed herself or Yurdanos.
Today, I looked over and saw Yurdanos walking across the floor, holding on to…nothing. Somewhere along the way she had learned to make her tiny little body walk. She came over beside the gate that separates our office from the dining room and looked at me, full of smiles and full of life. She’s still got a long way to go, but she is being nourished and prayed for and it literally is changing life for her at a sprinters pace. Her mom told us last week that simply the fact that both she and Yurdanos can eat today, something they could not do 6 weeks ago, has been a life changer for both of them. Simple, right?
As I looked at Yurdanos, I caught the eyes of Nardos. She started to play the peek-a-boo game with me from 25 feet away. Full of smiles, that shy kind of “I’m hiding from you” spunkiness. The wild thing is that 8 weeks ago, just after entering the project, Nardos was diagnosed with measles and she was very malnourished. She was in rough shape and we spent the next 3 weeks dealing with simple infections that any one of us could shake off, but that became potentially life threatening for her. She was really sick over and over again. And, in this setting, Measles kills 1 in 10 malnourished children who contract it. An eradicated disease in the rest of the world that has a devastating effect here.
But today, you would have never known that Nardos was suffering 2 months ago. Today she is growing and healthy and full of joy and hope. And, so is her mom. Her mom knew what was going on when Nardos was sick…and she expressed to our staff that she feels that Nardos would have died if there had not been support in place. Again…simple.
God was not finished in drawing my attention to what He is doing, however. I moved my eyes 10 feet and there sat my little friend Nejat. At least I call her my friend, but she’s still not so sure about me. Nejat came to us malnourished – mom was doing the best she could, but could only afford to give she and her sister a potato or two to eat every couple of days. Within a couple of weeks in the project Nejat became super ill. (I told much of her story in the April newsletter). Severe dehydration. Malnutrition. Diarrhea. Potential killers. Fortunately a medical team was with us who could help us plot an intervention for a very sick child.
Some of that intervention involved trying to shove antibiotic into her (which quickly came back out in projectile form), begging her to eat absolutely anything at all that we could hide antibiotic in – and praying a lot for this little girl. Her body was fighting against her eating or drinking anything at all – including breastfeeding – but we needed her to have liquids and nourishment if she was ever going to get better.
She slowly started coming along, but every day for a couple of weeks her mom had to sit outside to see if she would calm down enough to tolerate Day Care. It took a lot of small acts of caring for both Mom as well as Nejat – our staff did amazing.
But, today I looked across the room and saw this little girl sitting among the other children, shoving injera down like a pro. She looks well. She is growing. She is interacting and playing – we’ve even seen her smile. She is talking. She is full of life. Simple.
In every one of these scenarios I began to see the power of a simple act of love that is delivered hundreds of times a day by our staff here. Whether we are talking care givers or cleaners or cooks or the nurse or the guard or the director or the accountant or the social workers – everyone pitches in to deliver acts of loving presence to these children and moms. These aren’t heroic, superstar acts of love. Rather, they are small, simple and imperfect in form and delivery.
However, these small, simple acts of love as they are given day after day have a compounding effect that leads to transformation – both seen and unseen. These acts of love reflect the ways that God demonstrates His love to us – moment by moment, day after day in consistent form.
A good friend of ours, Jen, whom we’ve had the amazing privilege of spending time again with over this past week, signs each of her emails with the New Living Translation of Romans 12:9 . “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” I like that. That brand of love has a compounding effect…and today I got to see it in front of my eyes.
O Father, may this center continue to be a place of Your love…simply expressed, but with compounding effects.