Last Tuesday, I locked up my classroom, changed into my jeans, and headed off to the Hope Center. Every field service, Mercy Ships finds a suitable building in the city and fits it out to accommodate patients as they prepare for/recover from their various surgeries. Not only does this free up bed space within the hospital, but it gives our patients a more homey environment in which to recuperate. Nobody likes being trapped in a windowless ward any longer than is absolutely necessary! See me pointing at that yellow flower? The boy to my right was asking for a yellow flower sticker for his picture, and I was confirming his request--IN FRENCH! You read that right, friends! I am now able to sustain simple but useful conversations in the velvety smooth tones of francais! Vuex-tu une fleur jaune? Oui mon jeun ami! See? Myriam, our French, teacher is very proud of me (which is good because I pester her all the time).
Now let me tell you about my little friend in the yellow and blue. This little girl wrapped herself around my legs pretty much as soon as I arrived. Clearly, she had chosen me to be her new best friend. She led me to a plastic chair and climbed right up onto my lap. She spent the next hour playing patti-cake (which here basically means she clapped my hands together and laughed--she has a beautiful laugh), tickling and being tickled by me (did I mention how beautifully she laughs?), playing with my hair (first she'd pull it down in front of my face, then she'd put it on her own head--more laughing), examining the freckles on my arm (I must look so strange to her), and kissing my hands (my heart exploded into shards of rainbows, butterflies, and cute baby bunnies). I have not felt so completely and profoundly loved in a long time. The Single and Independent Childless Female doesn't get a whole lot of physical affection. I don't think my new friend knew just how much she blessed me. Isn't it just like God to bring me halfway across the world to be blessed by the people I came to bless?