These days I have 'new' on my mind. It seems that everything that seemed normal to me in my life has turned upside down, and a new normal is on it's way to becoming the way things are.
We have been in our new home for four weeks now, and in those four weeks, we have clung to each other in new and deeper ways, and are learning the heart of our God further.
It's a new year, and I can't forget it, as I hear it yelled from the corner of every street that we pass by. The new year and hope of new things are making people everywhere seem extra jolly and benevolent. The streets are littered with the residue and charred remnants of fireworks and homemade pipe-bombs, and the poorest of the tribal villages are still making the trek down to town, dirty-faced children in tow, hands outstretched, hoping that some of the leftover merriment will mean a few coins tossed their way.
I watched yesterday for a while as a very young Mangyan mother with a newborn tied tightly to her back shuffled through the street with her small son in tow. The majority of the town people just moved to the other side of the street when they saw the bedraggled parade of poverty coming their way, or completely ignored the quiet mumbled plea for money, and the upturned hand. I ducked into the fruit vendor's small stall and Francis and I filled a bag with bananas, apples, and grapes. Reaching out I lightly touched her baby's head and then looked into the mother's scared eyes.."Beautiful" I murmured. She looked like a wild deer, ready to bolt, breathing fast, eyes wide. "It's okay", I said. France began to speak in Tagalog, pointing, "we run the clinic right over there. Come and see us any time, we will take care of you." She nodded and turned and walked away.
This afternoon a young teenage girl came into our clinic. She is a prostitute, and experiencing all the symptoms of early pregnancy. Her eyes were tired and very sad, outlined by dark circles against her pale face. "I have not sleep in one week. I am afraid'. she whispered. She is thinking of aborting her baby... "My boyfriend stay with me if the baby is his, but maybe not. I have been working often."
I sat beside her, and took her hand in mine. I told her that we were here to help her and to take care of her. We are not yet sure if she is pregnant, and we will take one step at a time beside her, speaking life and pouring love over her.
I asked her if we could pray with her, and as I held her small hand in mine and asked Jesus to hold her in His arms and show her what true love really is, she cried.
Tomorrow she will come back and visit me, and I will ask Jesus again to speak through me the words I cannot find on my own, and to love this Beautiful Broken One with a fierceness and passion that she has never known, using me in even a small way.
She is prostitute, but also some mother's beautiful little girl. I cried today over this little girl, with so much stolen from her, and asked Jesus to come and make things new in her.
In Revelation 21, we see John's vision of what will come, when Jesus sat on His throne and said:
"I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit everything, and I will be his God and he will be my son."
Jesus is in the business of making things new, specializing in broken and hopeless people. He takes the outcast, the used-up, the broken-down, and the defeated and makes something glorious. That is what I hope to see in this new year: New life in death-strewn places. New hope where hope is dead. New freedom to captives of darkness.
We covet your prayers over us as we walk out each new day in a place rooted in darkness. We are fighting against apathy within the staff of our clinics, and are working hard to lead with grace, share vision, and serve as Jesus did. Our ten boxes of medical supplies and personal living stuff has not yet arrived, so things are interesting, but definitely humorous as we are missing sheets, towels, and many other things, and are trying to cook with no utensils or pots and pans. There is a lot of laughter and ingenuity (my husband is outside as I type, hacking away at a coconut with a rusty knife to get juice for supper).
We love you all, and are so thankful for your support and encouragement. We would not be here without you.
Thank you, and Happy New Year!
France and Leah