As we entered the gate of the ministry site late Monday afternoon after multiple physically, spiritually, and emotionally draining encounters earlier in the day, I didn’t know what I had left to give.
So after touring the facilities on the grounds of the home/orphanage for children who came from a difficult background, I sat down on the grass to watch the basketball and soccer games forming on the front lawn. Beginning to feel guilty for not participating more, I glanced around hoping to spot an opportunity to engage with at least a few of the children. Even, maybe especially, from my place of emptiness and lack.
As I was taking a few photos of both games (because at least I could do that…), I briefly considered whether I should just join in one of them. Some of our other team members were already playing, and it seemed rather unimportant at that moment that sports aren’t really my thing. Uh, at all. But the kids likely wouldn’t care that I wasn’t any good, and the whole point of all this was to be uncomfortable for the Kingdom, right?
But at the moment that thought crossed my mind, Oliver, who walks with a cane, came and sat down in the grass a few feet away from me.
Timid at first, but showing some interest in my camera, I took a photo of him and then showed him his face on the display.
He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t speak any Spanish, but somehow we communicated from there and it was clear he wanted to look through the viewfinder. Still a little uncertain of it all, he let me hold the camera, but moved it around until he found his image and simply said “Si” when he wanted me to press the shutter button to take the photo. We looked at it together, I praised and encouraged him for his shot (it really was good!), and he literally beamed with how proud he was.
It was just precious. And totally melted me.
As he warmed up even more and we took more photos together, he started telling me the names of the kids in the photos he was taking and telling me about them. Again, I don’t know how we had this conversation (other than attributing the whole thing to the power of the Holy Spirit!), but I knew what he was saying … even when I didn’t. He eventually pointed out his brother to me, Anthony, who joined us in the grass with bubbles shortly thereafter.
Anthony warmed up to the camera much faster than Oliver and was quickly holding it himself, walking around, and taking photos of absolutely everything.
I became a bit of a mediator at that point, making sure the boys were sharing the camera and taking turns … Oliver even counted Anthony’s photos at one point (he counted to thirty something, which was far outside of my Spanish counting abilities … I think he passed my knowledge at twelve) to prove it was his turn again. So cute.
And I loved every minute of it, not minding one bit that they were all over the place with that camera. I’m careful with my camera, but it honestly never really occurred to me to be concerned about it. It was just a camera. The risk of it breaking seemed so small and insignificant compared to this moment that I would never be able to get back.
As the boys and I reviewed the photos together again and again, as I raved over them, and as they both expressed how proud they were of their work, I couldn’t help but think that these were (and still are) my favorite images from the entire trip. They saw things in a way that I couldn’t. And Anthony had a great eye!
It was such a simple moment, really, but I saw through their eyes that day.
In the midst of circumstances that could easily seem broken and hopeless, I saw overwhelming joy and perfect peace in the faces and smiles and photos of those two boys, of those children, His children.
*except for the first & last, all photos in this post were taken by oliver & anthony*