Faylene spoke softly that morning, “I don’t know what I will do when we return to a quiet house.” She is already feeling a pull on her heart as she thinks about missing children’s voices in the early morning when she returns to the United States in a few weeks. The back wall and window of our quarters at the mission station are 3 meters from the back of the school, so we see and hear children all the time. The children use the alley way as a short cut, so we hear their chatter on their way by. The classroom windows are always open, so we hear them in class.
During the day I take walk breaks to stretch my eyes from the writing tasks. I go to the school, passing by every classroom to make eye contact with teachers or students. Travels always take me by the office, where I visit the principal and her assistant. Both could be my grown daughters. I love them as I do the children. I love their husbands.
We frequently walk the compound around sunset to get a stretch but we also give and receive greetings from staff and children. Many of them have names and stories that are new to this trip, and they also pull from events in the past. Faylene, however, has found herself in their hearts and she in theirs on her first trip. The effects have been profound. I thought it would happen, but I underestimated how much and how fast.
Last night a young girl prayed, then prayed some more, and then some more. We love her as our own. I even had a “father” talk with her just a day before. Before she finished, she was crying and praying at the same time. I glanced at my Bride, who was crying. Following that long prayer, anyone 18 and over ministered to the children, then the children prayed for the adults. A little girl came and prayed for Faylene. We wept. It was “just” a weekly evening prayer meeting amongst most of the IFL community of families, staff, and children. About 60 or 70 were there that night. It was the “garden lady,” another friend, who led the meeting. She is the house parent in one of the children’s homes.
Pat’s little boys (the director’s sons) come over frequently to ask if I will “star gaze.” It can be raining cats and dogs, but they still ask. I have set things up for them a few times. They look at the moon and stars and ask questions; they “hang out” at the telescope. Most of the time some other boys, girls, and a few staff come take a peek as well. It’s just one of those things I do. At the end of each session I am tired, but something inside said I discharged what should have done. There is peace. I just trained one of these young men to work with me on the Cambodia mission trip.
Three girls came to visit recently. They all talk to both of us, but they especially talk to Faylene. I could not resist. Older white feet against three Filipino sets of golden brown feet. It says mountains to me–we are closely linked, and these are the feet of young friends. We have an influence on where they go.
This morning the couples ladies delivered fresh coconuts to the director and us. They were on their way to the jail to share and pray with inmates. They wanted us to pray for them. One lady delivered a report of a visit to a little girl who stayed near all of us as we had a fellowship time near the lake a couple weeks ago. The little one I saw was lonely and was drawn by the singing and the peace. I had asked one of the ladies to go talk with her. They found out there was no peace at home. The father was in jail. Strangers were in and out. So the ladies had made contact with the family and loved on them. We had been encouraging them to do it. Mission accomplished. Really, however, it is mission just beginning. There will be more.
We had a couple over a few nights ago. I had trained their son on telescopes, and it led to getting to know the family better. Around our table he asked if I had remembered when he said, “I want to be your son” on my last trip (earlier this year). I did, and worked to keep my composure as I thought of it. Before they left, they asked us to pray for their marriage and fruitfulness in God. They are also house parents for a bunch of boys in the IFL compound. We offered to visit with them in the future. Another mission was just beginning.
Where does it end? I don’t know. We don’t plan the events except to keep the doors open; we did not plan to have our hearts hijacked, but they are. Next week we go to Cambodia to see more people. In some ways, I already know what will happen. The same things.
I visited a church about 20 km away to preach and conduct a creation workshop a few weeks ago. I had to compose myself three times before I ever stood up to say anything, because I was impressed by the Spirit that some of His own were present, and they may not even know Him yet.
I see or think of some of the staff or the children or the couples in the IFL community where we live, and I cannot imagine not seeing them very long. Sometimes my testimonies get stopped as I lose my composure trying to share a point. Sometimes I am minding my own business — just being quiet and still — and still get overwhelmed.
I glance at Faylene frequently, especially in the last weeks. After all, I love this woman. She is getting teary-eyed a lot. The pull in her and us together is initiated by something deep. We talk about it, and put one foot in front of the other, still not knowing where all this is leading.
It’s not all so dramatic. Some of it is just plain funny. -1- I was writing this and I spotted a 4 cm roach on the nearby table. I went into action with anything I could get my hands on to end the bug’s trespass. In the background, Faylene cackled as I jumped around–eventually succeeding in my efforts. -2- Two days ago we made some stale pasta. It was awful. She was ready to throw it out, but I am a short order cook. Two more ingredients and seasoning yielded a tasty meal. There was no time to change course. We fed it to company. It was delicious and nobody died. We laughed at it … later. -3- We were in bed a few weeks ago and softly talking to each other. It was a romantic moment UNTIL we heard what sounded like a bowling ball that hit the roof above us and rolled off. I am not sure which of our hearts stopped first. She bolted upright. Then we laughed. It happened night after night for two weeks. It was that time of year! The tree overhanging us is really big, and the “cannon balls” it produces are heavy. Rain makes them fall…on our head, so to speak. The tales could go on. We laugh quite a bit.
In a few weeks we will make a US visit. But the thought of the quiet, no children’s voices, no opportunity to hug the ones that have snuck into our hearts…causes us to hold our breath. It is not that we won’t return to loved ones, but we have to return here to be where He has called us. So, I watch my wife as she grapples with what is happening, and love her all the more. The cries of hearts beckon.
We have work to do.