The day we traveled to Chorker was a long one and I was starving. Poor me.
Though exhausted and needing to eat and tired and at the point of being unable to handle much more devastation in this one day, I am so very grateful to the time we spent in this little fishing village with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. It is not a village that sees many abruni’s (white people) because it certainly isn’t a tourist destination – in fact, I didn’t see any other abruni’s during the entire day we visited.
Open sewers. Shanties. A stench. Not enough food. The cries of the hungry.
Chorker, Ghana (stacks of boxes are fish smokers – the number one income generator)
I am learning that for those of us not accustomed to being subjected to the intensity of this kind of poverty, there is a limit to just how much the heart can be exposed to within one day without having time away, time to pull back and reflect, to go to our own Gethsemane and process with our Father what we have seen and what He wants us to do with it.
Boy in Chorker looking over a fish smoker
We were blessed to be escorted through the village with Enoch, the town elder, a beautiful man who runs an orphanage in Teshie and has started a free school in Chorker.
The rickety door of the van slid open and there she sat with her head in her hands.
Hungry. Tired. Hot. Pregnant.
Ten cedis were given and she ate but she also haunted.
Enoch took us to the school he founded and we delivered biscuits (vanilla-flavored crackers) and suckers – not necessarily the most nutritional sustenance but at least something to fill empty stomachs.
Amidst the recitation of “I see the moon and the moon sees me”, amidst the heat and the aroma of fish that wafted through the open windows, amidst the growling tummies, I saw it.
And yes, that is the Obama family on the front of this Ghanaian school book…
Some children tore into their packages of biscuits and devoured immediately. Some savored every bite. And yet others, quietly placed them inside their pockets as did this little guy who I noticed almost immediately with a quiet spirit and a runny nose, who was probably just a little older than Spencer…
“Why is he just putting them in his pocket?” I wondered aloud to Dana.
“He’s probably taking them home to share with his family,” she answered.
And a flood of emotions washed through me within seconds.
Sadness that a child this young thinks so selflessly, fear that I’m doing something wrong as a parent because my own child close to the same age would never think to do this, gratitude because he has never HAD to think to do this.
But what about him? What about the boy behind those deep chocolate eyes and the runny nose who is maybe a little over three or possibly four (children are much smaller than U.S. children due to malnutrition so it’s difficult to determine ages)?
Is he not as blessed as Spencer? Does God just love Spencer more?
Of course not.
While we may be blessed with more resources, I don’t think there’s one person who would say this sweet child hasn’t been blessed with a compassionate heart for his family, a desire to nurture, a selfless heart.
God loves both of these boys who reside a world away more than we could possibly even imagine and His plan is good for them.
But their stories have already started and to get to where God is taking them, they are walking the path they are walking because this now, this moment they are living in, is part of their puzzle. A puzzle that is being assembled to make a beautiful picture.
Living out different lives with different blessings on different paths but with hopefully the same conclusion – stories that will glorify Him.
Sidenote: The pregnant fifteen year old from the beginning of this post is now residing at The Fern House. God is so intentional isn’t He? One chance encounter resulted in a change of direction for a scared, young woman. Praise Him.
On this Multitude Monday, I thank you, God, for:
491. The way you work things for the good for those who love you
492. Placing people in a path because you just know
493. Donated resources that allowed us to purchase health insurance for two expectant mothers
494. The hunger you placed within me that day so you could teach me empathy
495. Sweet friends
496. Rest in You
497. The gigantic pizza you provided us that evening and the four pieces I devoured
498. The lamp You are to my feet
499. Coke Light
500. Showers – even cold ones…
This week may you see your blessings, may you marvel at your story, and may you use it well to glorify Him…
Joining Ann for “Multitude Monday” and Jen for “Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood”…
Natalie, I am so blessed by your stories from Ghana. I have often thought about the seeming disparity of the pouring out of blessings. Could it be that we have a different definition of “blessed” than God does? I think I’m blessed because my family lacks nothing but perhaps it is this very fact that is the reason my children would devour that biscuit rather than save it to share. What a great experience you are living!
The child who put the food in his pocket? I see Jesus there, in that child. I’ve much to learn about true giving.
God bless you as you continue to minister to those in need. And I am among the needy — needing to hear your stories from the front-lines.
– Jennifer Dukes Lee
Contributing Editor, TheHighCalling.org
I just read your last two blogs, and my heart hurts. I know that people live like this, but I have to be reminded now and again.
After the massive tornadoes tore through the south, one of my friends wrote a blog perturbed that many people who were untouched by the storm said, “We’re so blessed” as if to imply those who were devastated by the storms weren’t blessed.
I think too often we’re (or at least I’m) looking at the wrong things as blessings.
My heart aches, and I admit, sometimes I question this: Why do I have so much? and What right do I have to complain?
It’s so hard to see the poverty. It’s so hard to see the pain. And yet, you are right, God’s love is the same. Sometimes I just don’t have good eyes to see it.
Just do me a favor and keep writing such trenchant aanlsyes, OK?