Her eyes lock mine. Her wrinkled face is contorted, and her statement comes out as a question; “God will help us…?” I glance down at her daughter suffering on the hospital bed, recovering from an operation, and then back at the face so close to mine. The eyes begging an answer. I say the one word, the yes. Anna she sings, and I play my flute. We try to bring the melody of grace to this one girl in a bustling hospital full of hurting people. It is His faithfulness and mercy to the girl who wears fresh wounds deep in her stomach. She will scar and there will be no more smoothness, just a memory of the suffering. The floor is cracked, the walls are dirty, people are shuffling past and a baby is wailing but we pray that now, like never before, she will know His presence. Because sometimes pain drives us into His presence, into His peace.
Half an hour later, we are sitting at another young lady’s home, enjoying the cool shade under the thatched roof of their sitting-place. Little girls play with piles of pebbles, and a chicken wanders through puddles of sunshine dancing on the dirt floor.
As the talk continues, we get into deeper subjects. I hear the story of the little girl sitting on my friends lap. How she was brought when a tiny baby, dropped off by her mother who left and hasn’t come back. How she had an operation and my friend stayed with her at the hospital for all those days. How she drank juice and sugary tea and water, and now was just beginning to eat. How she saw my friend as her mother. The story keeps coming, but it’s so similar to the ones I’ve already heard so many times from girls my age. So many have little girls or little boys who they “mother” in whatever way they think best. The little ones are almost entirely spoiled with instant gratification of their every wish. I think of the article I read this week about how the lack of a father affects children and I swish my water in the tin cup and pray in my heart for the children of Congo.
I ask if it doesn’t break the mother’s heart to come back and find her baby attached to someone else? Doesn’t it hurt a mother to be constantly working and return in the evening to find her children distanced from her, to find that she cannot talk to her daughters anymore?
Oh, but it’s normal, they tell me. Parents mostly want to get their children to university and get them married/settled down somewhere, they tell me. Parents know that university will ruin their children, and many don’t check out the integrity of their child’s spouse as long as there is enough money in the marriage to make them feel important.
They say it like this hard fact. So many parents figure their kids are ruined anyways by that age that they don’t even try to salvage them. Maybe the parents themselves don’t have anything else to offer their kids, I think.
After all, it is normal.
“How can you ask if someone regrets that they only eat with their mouth, and not with their eyes or nose?” they ask me, “They don’t even know that another way exists.”
I close my eyes to stop the pounding in my head. I see the face of that girl in the hospital. So that’s where she’ll end up? I open my eyes and see the happy little girl still playing with her pebbles and it makes me sick to think of her future. I see the toddler cuddled in my friend’s lap and think of where her mother is….where her father is….I think of how girls from nine and up are put in charge of rearing babies and toddlers – they do not know how to raise them. Oh, the children of Congo!
In the evening friends come to see me, and they speak of all the same issues. One says that when she’s a mother, if she doesn’t want all her children, she’ll just ‘give some away’. Speaks of how she’s trained her younger siblings to love and obey her instead of their mother.
Pray for this new generation, that there would be a new mentality, that they would have new hearts….
Grace has begun, we see healing in families. There are always exceptions to normal. But there is still so far to go….
Pray for the parents of Congo.