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Broken Pieces

“Todo, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Or in this case, India. We have been in Chaiyaphum, Thailand for 10 days. And just like India, Thailand has its way of amazing me. To the night markets that are in the middle of the week, to random dancing festivals in rice patties, to elephants meeting you at the gate of your house, to fitting ten people in the bed of a truck for more than an hour’s drive, even in the rain.

 

The first night we rolled up onto the dirt driveway, we got out of the car just enough to stretch and then headed straight for the heavenly smell coming from the kitchen. I did not realize how much I had missed the smell of fish on the grill with the skin, drizzled in soy sauce and garlic… hmmm. I could just go on about that first Thai meal but that’s not part of the story.

 

I saw this girl with silky, short black hair and eyes darker than the darkest chocolate sitting on the floor in a blue soccer jersey, reading a book. After realizing that dinner wasn’t quite ready yet, I made my way over to her. I saw that the book involved numbers and I had just spent 5 hours learning basic Thai, including numbers, so I tried it out. That conversation sparked something in me.

 

The thing about Thailand that amazed me the most was how much I was going to love Naomi. Naomi is six years old and is living with us at our host home with five other children, one of them being her brother, Paul who is eight. Four of the children have been taken in by our hosts, Nan and Raem. and are orphans. The other two kids are biologically our hosts. 

 

Paul and Naomi come from a broken family; alcoholic father abuses them sexually and physically, starves them, parents get a divorce, mother gets remarried and step-father wants nothing to do with kids, biological father is put in jail, children were sent away to Chaiyaphum. They have been living here at the house for almost two years.

 

One night in particular I felt my heart break. We were coming home late from one of the night markets and it had just rained so the air was cooler than normal. We were in the back of the truck and I had Naomi’s head in my lap and Paul sitting to the right of me. Like most children, they were just “resting their eyes.” Paul had managed curl up into a ball and fit most of his body in his shirt to keep warm, leaning up against the inside of the truck, away from me. Naomi looked up and me and with her eyes told me she was cold so I covered her with my new dress I had bought that night, hoping that could keep her warm. She pressed her body closer to me and then I felt a small arm lean against mine. Paul had made his way over to me and I put my arm around him, letting him know that its okay. As they fell asleep, I felt the weight of their bodies trusting me to support them, to keep them warm, to keep them safe. I just sat there weeping as I saw their struggle to trust me fell down and they were able to find rest.

 

 

What I see in her face is something that I have never seen before in a little one. I have never looked into the eyes of a child with a hardened heart. I enjoy the challenge of making her laugh before she leaves for school and I look forward to her coming home so I can help her clean all the dishes before dinner so that she can play in the sand. I see her walls that have been built to protect her from being hurt by anyone else. Once in a while though, I see a brick falling down as she sings along to Frozen or when she gets to pick out an ice cream cone. 

 

Naomi one of the many cases in this life where children have to grow up too fast. A child should be able to run to their parents if they hurt themselves, to be able to dance and sing instead of ironing clothes, to be able to feel loved. I know that Papa is calling me to love these specific children wholeheartedly, in everything I do. Even though I can’t speak Thai well and Naomi can’t understand much english, that isn’t going to stop me. I wake up each morning and decide to be there in every part of her day, whether it’s just sitting next to her while we have free time, doing the dishes with her, walking with her, calling out her name, waving to her and making her feel special but mostly making her feel WANTED and LOVED. After all, someone once told me that love is a universal language.

 

From the first night that I saw her, I knew Papa was calling me to her but I wasn’t sure why. Now I know. He uses broken people to speak to broken people. There was a time in my life that I felt unwanted by people and that was a scar that hadn’t quite gone away. I had put a band aid on it to cover it up but hadn’t put on the ointment to heal it completely. I didn’t realize that every time I am with her, He is not only healing her wounds but mine as well. He uses shards of broken pieces to make His stained glass window. With the two of us, and with all the other broken glass, God is making us into the most beautiful piece of art that we cannot ever imagine.