August 6, 2008
Here's Blessing on our retreat to Pensacola Beach Adorable beach babies... We're riding the street car! This is me and Nautika out in Jackson Square (she is a silver angel) This is me and Nautika at her "favorite spot in the city"
These past two weeks have been very different from the rest of the summer. A lot more sleep and a lot less cute and crazy pre-teen girls everywhere. It has been refreshing in one way but sad in others. The other interns left last Friday and so it is just Eric and I here now with the regular staff. It is very quiet every day until six when the moms and children get home, then it is "boy time" (the three adorable kids that live here at the center affectionately call Eric "boy" and every afternoon they have a blast climbing all over him and playing some sort of dinosaur game where Eric makes a mean scary face and they all run away screaming...needless to say that is our favorite time of day) In addition to helping out in the office and participating in the more "normal" day to day routine (which is actually very abnormal because we never know who is going to come to our door or what opportunities await us) I have also still been spending time with our friend Nautika...you may remember her from Eric's blog because she and her brother are the street performers we met down in Jackson Square. She is an amazing girl with amazing potential. My time with her every Saturday is something I will always treasure. Whether we went on a picnic, read poems in the library, or shopped for school supplies, Jesus has been faithful to fill every moment with His love. Ever since the first moment I saw her, leaning against a street light trying to play an old clarinet, I was overwhelmed with the deep love that God has for her. She and her brother have had to grow up fast and even as I type this letter they are downtown, carrying the burden of supporting their mother. They wear smiles as they pose as silver statues but underneath there is heaviness and worry about what tomorrow will bring for them. This past Saturday Nautika was sad when I picked her up and in the car she kept daydreaming about someplace far from New Orleans, so I began asking her questions about what was going on and she began to share with me her dream to be back in Virginia, where she had friends and could play instead of worrying all the time. Her mother had already told me that they were getting kicked out of their house next week and that she was ready to give up and it seemed that Nautika was weighed down by all these worries much to big for her to carry. I began to tell her again about the way that Jesus loves us and that the most wonderful thing about God is that He never leaves us, even when things are unbearably hard for us. I told her that I think He wanted me to meet her that night in the quarter because He wanted her to know Him and to trust Him even though she is afraid. She listened as she always does and we continued down the road. I told her to choose any restaurant and that is where we would have lunch, to my surprise she chose Pizza Hut so I pulled in. The first thing we saw was a wall of 25 cent machines so I told her we would buy some treasure. We turned the wheel on the machine, hoping for the digital pet advertised on the front, but instead a small plastic ring came out. At first Nautika looked at the plastic treasure with disappointment, then she handed it to me. I took it out of the plastic ball and I literally yelled with my squeaky voice, "Look Nautika...you won't believe it!" The small purple ring, probably the only one in the whole machine filled with plastic toys, had a sticker where the jewel is supposed to be that read "JESUS LOVES YOU." Nautika's face immediately lit up and we both smiled. I told her "He must really, really want you to know" and she responded, "I think He really does." This seems like such a silly story and most kids would have been pretty mad about wasting money on the stupid ring, but Jesus really loves Nautika so much that He wants to write it everywhere, He wants to spell it out with clouds, He wants to put it on every billboard in the city, and broadcast it over every radio station...He wants us to believe Him. He would do anything for us to believe. All summer it seems that this simple lesson of the profound love that God has for us comes to me again and again. I am praying that Nautika will receive His love and she can fulfill all the dreams that are in her heart. Please pray for Nautika's family and for all the people we have met here to be transformed by the love of Christ. We are going to be coming home this Friday and we look forward to sharing with all of you about our trip. peace. Sarah