By Isabel Maldonado
From Swaziland, Africa:
Last night there was a knock on the door from the missions team leader here. He said, “There are kids that haven’t gone home, and now they are sleeping. What should I do?”
So he took them home. Then, this morning they were already back so early.
When asked about their mother, they said: “She never came home last night. She was out drinking all night,” and the father recently died from AIDS.
These girls are young. One is nine years old, and she is taking care of her two-year-old sister. They hadn’t eaten since lunch provided from the care point yesterday. It was now Sunday at 10 am.
Pastor Gift’s wife, Philile, made a big bowl of porridge for them to eat. I sat and made sure the baby got to eat and that the dog didn’t take her food away. The other children that were finished eating and went off to play at the other end of the property, leaving this two-year-old to finish eating all alone.
I sat with her as she slowly brought the oversized spoon to her little mouth and licked off all of the porridge from it.
After she had eaten all her stomach could take, she sat playing with a little twig from the ground. She was leaning on my leg and was looking so tired. I spoke to her in what little Siswati I know, but still not a word escaped her mouth.
Eventually, she was in my lap, laying there as this tiny person that deserves so much more than she is receiving at “home”. She fell asleep in my arms. This tiny little girl.
As I was holding her, my heart broke. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. My already stuffed-up nose was gathering more snot, but I just didn’t care. What if this was my daughter, my sister, my niece? There are so many thoughts that run through my head.
I want to fix this situation, but what would that look like? What do you do? What can I do?
And I still have no answer.
The only thing I know to do is to love this tiny person that God has created. To be Jesus with skin on.
Isabel, originally from a small town in Texas, has been on assorted mission trips in her life. She returned to Swaziland again in June 2008, where God has continued to wreck her world and turn everything upside down.