[journal entry 01.18.10]
There will always be times in this life when I feel like I’ve almost been cheated. I felt like that this morning, when we left Kawosati. I left behind a people who will be in my heart for a long time. So I write their stories, I write so I can remember and so they can be known. It is her story I want to write most, so as I close my eyes and remember her pink, almost red, skirt blowing slightly in the wind, I pour out my heart over who she has become to me.
I don’t even know her name. I don’t know where she’s from. I don’t even know what cast she is—just that it is not very high. But for as long as I live I will remember her, especially her eyes.
Pure eyes, hopeful eyes, eyes that betrayed the sorrow on her face and showed the freedom within.
Everyday she was dressed in all red. She didn’t have a change of clothes. Almost always her shawl was wrapped around her head and she looked downward to the extreme. But when she smiled, everything changed. She was radiant!
One of the first times I remember seeing her was at the worship service on Saturday, a piece of paper in front of her and an intent look on her face as she took notes. I remember her praying, on her face before the King of Kings. It was beautiful.
I had never seen her smile, not on Saturday, not on Sunday. But at lunch on Saturday I took out my camera, just so I could take some portraits. She was sitting on the long bench with the rest of the women. I was working my way down the line, because everyone wanted to have a picture of ‘just me.’ When I got to her, at first she shook her head, telling me no. I gave her my best ‘pretty please?’ look and after a hesitant half smile she let me.
What surprised me and almost made me cry was the smile that lit up her face when I had the camera to my eye. Before she was a girl who looked sad from a distance, but now she had the hope that was so evident in her eyes all over her face.
In a moment my camera gave me a gift I never would have received alone. It gave me a glimpse into the heart of a young girl who walked 10 hours to hear foreigners speak. A heart that had more than it’s share of sorrow, yet still clung fast to the Hope that was in Jesus Christ. My camera allowed me to capture hope in a rare form, hope that is alive. Hope that can’t die.
When Sunday came, and our team sat about to wash the feet of everyone at the conference, I got the privilege of washing her feet. She humbly sat in front of me and slid her sandals off. She was uncertain when I picked up her foot, but still released it willingly. Her feet were calloused and cut. It was evident she had walked many miles to get to the church. Her feet told a story all in themselves, of a hard life, one that continually was a struggle to survive. But when I looked up to her face, a single tear slid down and she smiled at me, thanking me with her eyes.
This girl is precious to Jesus. And just because she came into my life she is precious to me. It is impossible to see so much pain overcome by hope and not be changed. Her story is like so many others in this world. Stories that long to be told, that truly can change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. This girl, who is nameless in the story, has the ability to hope in the moment. Right now.
I hope to someday know her name. I hope to someday hear her tell all of her story. But for now, I am praying what is known of her story will touch lives. That people will see the beauty she has in her ability to hope. And be changed.