Mercy. It was a new word that I learned. From it I also gained a beautiful picture and new perspective of our Creator. One of the meanings of the root word for Mercy in the language that I am studying is uterus.
Inside of the womb, a child is gaining nutrients and oxygen. He is growing in a safe environment. If a child would leave that environment before he is fully developed, he would die.
We are in the Creator’s uterus. It is through his bread and blood that we are receiving oxygen and nutrients. Our Creator is rich in mercy. It is through our Creator’s mercy that we are able to have life. If we go outside of his mercy, we will die.
My roommate, Jill* and I were visiting a friend. She said: “Let me show you my house.” We walked into her backyard that was filled with banana trees, lemon trees, palm trees and a papaya tree. It was very beautiful. Then we said hi to their maid who was sweeping the floor. The inside of the house had a beautiful mural on its sitting room wall. The ceiling was blue with clouds painted on it. She invited us into her room. Its wall was filled with planets and stars and pink. “It was painted for me when I was little,” she explained.
On our way to the kitchen, she apologized for some of the fallen gold trim on the wall, saying, “It is an old house. They didn’t make it very well.” We stepped over some cracked tiles and walked into their outside kitchen. The floor was sinking in and looked like it also might crack. “My dad needs to fix this; the ground is being washed out from underneath.” It reminded me of the story of the foolish man who built his house on the sand. Both symbolically and physically their house needs something different foundationally.
After only about a week in the new house, an alarm went off. “What is that?” Jill* and I both wondered. It went off a second time and then our electricity shut off. After looking around the house, we found a small box near the door blinking the words: Out of Credit. Jill went to our neighbors to figure out how to add more credit. I walked to the gas station close to us to ask for a recharge card with a pin, but they said everything was online now. As of yet, neither of us have a bank account here, so we sat in the hot living room trying to think of a solution. After about 4 hours, a few more trips to our neighbors, and finally asking another Western friend to pay it for us, the lights and A/Cs turned back on.
However, even after we had our electricity back on, we still had no easy way of paying for the electricity in the future by ourselves. After about two weeks the alarm started going off again. Again, we started asking the question, “Who can we ask to help us put money into the system?”
We still don’t have an easy solution yet as we are both working on trying to get a bank account here. However, in the midst of all the alarms and problem solving, a little gift came out of it all.
The two little girls that live next door started ringing our doorbell to say hi. “Do you have electricity?” they would ask each time. After several weeks of having electricity, Jill suggested, “Let’s invite our neighbors over to see the house, and then the girls will see that we have electricity.”
That was the start of a sweet relationship with our neighbors. As we both moved in about the same time, we were able to connect over moving, different styles of decorating, and simply being in a new neighborhood. I had told them how I like to eat rice. Now the grandma of the two girls has brought us lunch (rice) over to our house several times, more than we can eat.
We are still looking for a location for the community center. Please lift up that request with us to the Father.
The center has permission from the government to start a small library in the community. It has been in the works for many years. However, now that they have the permission, they no longer have a building.
The clubs are currently still on hold as they are looking for a location. I have been able to join them in their monthly meetings, get to know the others who are invested in the community, and learn more about the heart and vision behind the center.
* Names are changed for security reasons
For most of my growing up years, the Middle East was my home. Later, my family moved back their home country where I studied Recreational Therapy in College. During my studies, I contrasted the children with disabilities in my childhood and the ones where I currently lived. In the Middle East, the children with disabilities were often ignored.
I knew I wanted to go back overseas. In order to gain experience, I volunteered with an NGO hospital. I loved the way the hospital was able to do surgeries for those who could not afford them. However, there were many people the hospital could not help. These people had to continue to live with their disability in a culture that did not accept them. I had found what I wanted to do.
I would like to see people, with and without disabilities, loving and serving the Creator in a community that sees and values them for who they are.
I will be working at a center located in an old village in the Middle East. The community center was set up to help meet the needs felt by the community. It is a place for children to come and do art classes, learn English, participate in business classes or any other new activity that is developed. There are several families in that community with children with special needs. Although there is no program for them, the community center director is looking forward to finding a way to meet this need through the center.
For the first two years I will be learning the language, as well as working at the center with the programs already put in place. My goal will be to begin with learning to know the culture, the people, and how the community works. Just as the Son walked and lived with people, my first steps will be to build relationships with the people within the community.