Reposted in it's entirety from Rusty Geverdt's newsletter
Aidan (Rusty's son) and I had the honor this past week to spend time in Haiti with Back2Back Ministries serving the orphans of two children’s homes. It was a wonderfully memorable team experience in a deeply fractured land. (Remember the earthquake in 2010?)
We headed out each morning for the children’s homes to work on building projects while the kids were at school; we then played with the kids in the afternoons. It was great fun, and also challenging. We don’t speak Creole, and they don’t speak English, but kids are kids the world over. Playing Jenga, cards or soccer in the school yard needed no translation—laughter, smiles and hand gestures are universal.
Due to the heat, I was exhausted in a matter of minutes and retreated to the shade of a nearby classroom in the open-air school. Being an introvert, I relished a moment alone. I thought I had slipped away unnoticed from the crowd of playing kids but, in fact, I hadn’t. The tiniest little girl in the children’s home, 4-year-old Estania, soon found me. She had a deck of playing cards in her hands. With a cute little smile, she sat on the bench across from me and began to deal out cards with purpose. Five for her, five for me. I had no idea what game we were playing, as I’m not much of a card shark, but that didn’t seem to matter. She’d slap a card down and then sweetly look up at me.
Rather than try to explain that I didn’t know how to play, I just laid a card down. It must have been the wrong one because she gathered that hand to herself, and slapped another card down. I randomly chose another card and laid it down, to which she aggressively slapped another one down. (These kids really make a statement when they discard.) I, following her example, slapped down another card, which she gathered and then slid that stack to me. Hmm? I thought, I must have won that round, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why. This was like no game I’d ever played before.
When we ran out of cards, she gathered hers and mine, loosely shuffled and dealt again. She hardly ever looked up at me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. When she did shyly look up, a big smile would break out on her face. I made it my goal to always be smiling when she looked up at me.
After 30 minutes, it became obvious that she didn’t know how to play that card game, either. She was mimicking what she’d seen the bigger girls do, but without understanding. She wasn’t included in the games, being so small, but here she was playing with me, and soaking in every minute of it.
Uninterrupted time with a fully engaged adult is rare for these little ones, and she was drinking it in like a sponge in water, and so was I.
As we said goodbye that day, the children all lined up and shook our hands. I made a special effort to shake Estania’s hand and look her straight in the eye. I said, without words, “I see you, I love you.” She smiled and squeezed back into the group, the message received.
We are forced to look further into people in such environments. We can’t always take things at face value. Words aren’t that helpful, and time spent tells you more. We began to understand who these children were by how they lingered.
I wonder if something principled isn’t speaking here regarding knowing God.
Our first impressions of Him might be a little distorted. We watch and listen to others thinking they’ve got it together, but feel lost when left by ourselves. Some say that God doesn’t speak face to face, but something is communicated when I read the Scriptures and linger there.
It’s in the lingering that confidence in God is formed. Just as little Estania drank me in while playing cards, we drink in the presence of God when we linger in prayer and His Word.
He who lingers longest with the Lord will never be lost or at a loss. Look up once in a while and see Him smiling at you.
Where do you linger the most?
To learn more about Rusty Geverdt and his ministry, visit his website: https://www.kingdomprayerinitiatives.com/