5 Minutes of My Day: A Day at Mona’s 1/3
It’s a rather special week/day today, Eric and I are serving together on a trip. I’m running around ahead of Eric’s teams making sure everything is prepared at their next ministry location before they arrive. I drive into the orphanage gates and laugh, it’s packed. It’s almost 2:00 and you know what that means? Feeding program time! I check the time, 30 minutes before the team is arriving and things are set. Awesome.
“Betanee, can you come?” I hear my name being called.
I start toward the gazebo and little ones with spoons in hand, latch onto my skirt, pulling me into the frenzy. They’re community kids, here for their daily meal that the orphanage provides them. For most of these kids, they won’t see much more food than this for the day. The eldest of the orphanage boys are preparing and in charge of serving the meal to the community kids. I love to see how the orphanage does this, gives such leadership and responsibility to the eldest boys and girls of the orphanage. For them, they will eat last today and serve every other child by hand, together. Talk about building character through action.
“Vini, ede’m” Come help me, one of the eldest says to me as I waddle in with my flock of spoon-kids at my legs.
I smile. I never really get this time to help. Normally, I’m too late to get to participate. “Of course, how do I proceed?” I ask. The younger boys instruct me and work around me like a well-oiled machine. Some are hauling water, others are mixing juice, some bring bowls of silverware, some are showing me the proper portion sizes to spoon.
“Chante.” Sing. they say to me. And so now we are singing.
There’s roughly 60 kids here today, ages 2 and up. I begin singing everything I know in Creole, funny songs “Ahh rahm-sam-sam” and worship hymns like “Mwen Kwe” to funny dancing songs like “Papa Abraham.” Dave reaches for me and I spin him around in circles to distract him. This is life. Joyous fellowship – life. And then, just like that, the boys tell me we’re set to begin.
“Oh, Betanee – vit, vit.” Faster faster, they say.
I am filling each bowl with rice and Callalou, an okra and beef stew. Stocked full of veggies, meat and savory broth – over a man-sized portion of white rice. The younger boys watch my portions and ensure everything is equal and we won’t run out. They do this every day, they know what they’re doing.
It’s so stuffy in the room, it’s hot out and the kids are sweaty and the rice is steaming. The room pulses with energy, you can feel the anticipation from the children. They cheer loudly when bowls begin being filled. They call my name, asking to get more rice, more water.. playfully pestering me.
And then, “Bonswa timoun!” I hear the director shout, “Good afternoon children!”
In chorus they say, “Bonswa Se Mona.”
“We are going to eat today, what must we do first?” she asks.
“Pray.” they echo in response.
She’s now leading them in a prayer and they sit perfectly still, with heads bowed, eyes closed and hands clasped firmly in-front of them. Two little ones need help with their hands, since they won’t put down their spoons. I smile with glassy eyes.
“Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for providing food to us. We will eat with grateful hearts. Thank you for your love. We love you. Amen.”
I say to her, “Mona, the children have such respect for you. I don’t think I’ve ever heard them so quiet.” She laughs and I stare at her face, her hands. This is a servant of our Father, whom I desire to imitate each day. Walking firmly in His light, communicating constantly with him. She says to me,
“They respect me because I put food in their bellies!” she jokes.
But I know the truth. They respect her because she is a light unto the community. She works hard daily for the Lord. She speaks His truth and she loves with her whole heart. She doesn’t turn her eyes from those in need.
My heart soars with so many lessons learned in such a small moment. I wipe my eyes as the boys countdown. “Three….”
Laughter fills the air, I can feel God’s smile upon my shoulders.
This beauty overwhelms me. Dave reaches for me, I give in and sling him up onto a hip. The boys shake their heads at me, laughing.
The feeding begins.
5 Minutes of My Day is a series of the more intimate moments in our ministry. Launching off of something Eric said to me one day: “When you are overwhelmed or stressed and Satan is on you, focus on the little things. The small moments that make you remember why you live this life. Why you love this ministry.” So here it is, the good the bad and the ugly. Snapshots of 5ish minutes of my day.