This question has been turning around in my mind for days since I learned of a young family down the road. The mom left not too long ago, right after the birth of her baby boy. She left her husband with two girls, perhaps 6 and 3 years old, and with the baby. The husband works in town, so the children are left at home, the two girls caring for their little brother.
Today, I had the joy of meeting these little girls on my way home from smearing a neighbor's home. (Smearing is a process where you mix cow dung, mud and a little water, and you smear the mixture on all your floors. Read about the experience on the team blog.)
At first, the girls didn't want to smile. I asked them their names and they barely whispered, Joanna and Naomi. They were heading home with two small containers of water which they had gone to fetch from a nearby well. Their baby brother was at home, they explained when I asked. Alone, yes. Naomi pulled shyly at her little skirt. I asked if I could take their picture with the team, and they agreed, finally smiling a little.
Walking back to ELI, their neighbor (an ELI member of staff, the lady whose home we had just smeared) explained that they sometimes go to neighbors' homes asking for food. They sleep on the bear mud floors. They don't have other clothes than that which they were wearing.
Their little faces have been on my mind for days now as I've been passing them on the road. I don't know when's the last time they've been given a bath...
Tomorrow, we'll take them a mattress and blanket as well as some clothes. I told my friend Ruth about them, and she smiled, saying, "You know, I've been praying for a while now that God would show me if there are neighbors whom I can serve. I'll go there with you anytime. In fact, I can go and bathe the girls and their baby brother every week. We can take them food and clothes."
1 John 3:16-17 came to mind once again. I love how The Message puts it: This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
God, may I never cause your love to disappear...