The Children

The children we got to work with weren’t just kids needing something to do in the hot afternoons. They weren’t just faces we took pictures with and took back to show our friends and family how many wanted to hold our hands. They weren’t a number we needed a certain amount of crafts for. No. These children were God’s Children. They had names and futures in His kingdom.

Like Lucia, the shy but compassionate girl who patiently helped me with my spanish.

Lucia

Or Luis Fernando, the small but charming boy who loved unconditionally.

Luis

And then Jueniel, the one who remembered and loved and taught us a lesson when he turned the other cheek when being mistreated.

Jueniel

Oh, and none of us can forget Kendry, the one with no loss for words. (but he didn’t just say them, he sang them.) (watch him HERE)

Kendry

And then there’s Elito, the one who chose me and looked past the dirt and the grime of the worksite and called me beautiful. God has given me the incredible opportunity to continue a connection with this child through sponsoring him and watching God work in his life as he grows into a young man.

Me and Elito

Before going on our trip I think some of us thought that the children we were going to work with were so lucky to have us visit them, to make them smile and laugh and to have us, the amazing americans, take time to interact with them. But we were wrong. We were the ones who were blessed. We were the ones that they made smile and laugh.  And they are the amazing Children of God who willingly took time to interact with us.

DR VBS game

 

(Photo credit Chris O'Neill)
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Elito. The eleven-year-old boy who chose me.

 

He wasn’t smiling like all the other children when he came through the gate. His reply when I asked “como estas?” was not “bien” like all the other children. He was frowning and feeling “mal”. As all the other children skipped off, excited to go to VBS, he walked slowly, so I matched his pace and let God show a little piece of His love through me. I prayed this little interaction would somehow impact his life for the better.

At craft time he insisted on writing my name all over his craft, and by song time he didn’t want to let go of my hand. When it was time to say goodbye, his frown returned, and he told me he was sad about me, that I had to say goodbye. “Tomorrow, “ I said, as he hugged me tight and I fought back tears. What if he didn’t return tomorrow? I walked him to the gate and he turned to hug me again. I reminded him “Tomorrow…please come back.” His sad eyes connected with mine and then he turned and didn’t look back as he began his walk home.

The next day I waited at the gate, but only a few children showed up. I searched each face and smiled, but he was not there. We opened the gate; VBS was about to start and he was still nowhere to be seen.

I searched the road with my eyes as more children made their way from their homes to join us one last time.

And then, there he was, smiling this time, and I began to think that maybe I had made some small impact on this young boy. He came through the gate and hugged me tight, then took my hand as we walked towards the main building.

The day continued much like the last one, though this time with added smiles, more words, and maybe even a skip in his step. Once again he told me he loved me, once again he wrote my name, once again he held my hand, and once again we found ourselves back at the gate, needing to say goodbye. We hugged three times, not wanting to leave. This time he flashed one last smile before he started on his way back home. I waved goodbye and watched til he disappeared, then looked in my hands where he had left me his craft with “Moriah I love you” covering the front and back.

But the story doesn’t finish there because this little boy chose me and this couldn’t be the end.

Curious, I asked the sponsorship coordinator if this boy had a sponsor to support him and found out that no, he didn’t. He’d been waiting for me. At this point I had no say in the matter; no, it wasn’t up to me. Because you see, Elito, he chose me.

 

Me and Elito

 

(Photo credit Chris O'Neill)

Hello Blog

Wow.

It’s been awhile.

I practically feel like I’m starting a new blog!

So far 2014 has looked like this for me:

January- I housesat 14 days, we celebrated my parents 25th Anniversary (woot!), and participated in a Civil War reenactment across town.

February – I started leading our HighSchool worship team on Wednesday nights and went with Jordan to Pheonix for 5 days to participate in a Justice For All training and outreach.

March – Enjoyed fellowship around a bonfire, as well as at our Church picnic a couple days later!

April – Performed with a band in our homeschool group’s talent show and celebrated Joshua’s 7th birthday on the 10th along with my Dad’s birthday at the end of the month. AND we went to the Grand Canyon and stayed in a trailer (but that’s a long story for another time)

May – Choreographed Musical Bootcamp and taught 50+ teens in one week!

June – Left for the Dominican Republic on the 6th, Jordan’s 22nd birthday, and had an amazing 2 weeks there working hard, building a great team, reaching out, loving on children and sharing God’s love. I missed Father’s day with my dad, but made him this song. 3 days after arriving back in the states my Dad and I drove my sister to Kansas, her new home! She is now working as an intern with Justice For All!

And that brings us to July! The coming weeks are packed for me, so it’s likely I’ll disappear again, though not so long this time! Family coming into town and a lot of housesitting for my sister and me!

Hope that helps get this blog up to speed 🙂 I’ll be posting about a highlight from my trip to the Dominican Republic soon, so stay tuned…

❤ Riahjoy

 

PS How do you like the new blog look?

Chicago

I am so excited today. Me and Mema (my gramma) are at the Tucson airport getting ready to load onto the plane to Phoenix and then we will be going to chicago. I found out 48 hours ago that I will be going to Chicago with Mema to go say good-bye to her favorite aunt Lynda before she dies.

Later that day…

Only a few minutes left till I am at Chicago! I had to sit with people I did not know because there was no other seats next to Mema. It was okay though, we had had alot of time together at the airport(s). Well the battery is running low so I am going to stop for know.

8:50pm
I am here! It was a short flight for me since my last few flights have been to Africa. I am in the car on the way to Lynda’s nursing home. I am so glad to be here!!

1:03am
Great great aunt Lynda is with the LORD today. She went at 12:06am this morning.

Getting to sleep at 3:00am because it took some time to get home and then none of us had not eaten, so we ate some light food. Beautiful home. We are staying at Brian and Cathy Smith’s house. Cathy is Mema’s cousin.

Please pardon any typos, I typed this on my mom’s iPod.