Walking Past the Stench
That stench... goodness, what was that stench?
For a few moments, I searched my mind for some familiar recognition. I ran through the normal things that my nose takes in on these dusty roads... urine, vomit, rotten veggies, feces, trash, fermented fruit, remnants of a night of inebriation.
Unsure of what it might be, I turned my head back to the left and behind me. The sight took my breath away and the stench suddenly became distant and distinctly unimportant.
There they were... students of Instituto Vida Abundante in their white school t-shirts. 2 came carrying a beautiful Arbor Day mural made from 100% recycled items followed by the rest of the 60 walking in 2 lines, very proud to be a part of the Arbor Day parade.
I looked at the boys in front and I began to remember ... a young man who finished 6th grade as a 16 year old with perfect attendance, a young man whose mom abandoned the family and left the house in the care of her children, a young lady sold by her mother and then rescued by her father, a young lady who came to school after her father had broken the windows out of their home in a drunken state, a teeny 13-year old bolt of energy who came to us from a remote village speaking primarily Miskito who has dug in and adjusted to a new program.
My heart began to just celebrate the way our God perfectly planned for each student. He built a safe place for them to study and grow, He worked in their hearts to give them a hope, He touched many churches and committed people to love these students from afar.
I smiled a HUGE smile... and I thanked God for the moment when I get a small glimpse of what He is doing.
The day-to-day is often difficult and overwhelming for this spoiled Texas girl. BUT GOD... He is faithful, friends. He doesn't call us to something unattainable. He calls us to good work with the hands and hearts that he has given each of us. He gives us the very things that we can ONLY handle with His Grace, Mercy and Power. He never, ever gives up on these students... nor does he give up on me. They often give up on themselves, as do I. BUT GOD... never, ever gives up.
We walked in the parade for almost an hour. Our students presented a song, a poem, a dance, recycled projects and our mural. 3 of our students had a 10 minute visit with the Secretary of Education for our Department and with a UN representative. They were able to talk about Instituto Vida Abundante, our logo, what the logo represented and how God's creation was the thing we are protecting.
This is Junior, one of our smallest young men in stature and one of our grandest in character. He was very impressive in his presentation. Not 10 minutes before, he was a nervous wreck and wanting to throw our mural backward into the lagoon.
Our mural won 2nd place! In a time where we NEVER expected to win anything nor even be recognized for participating, our students were honored. Their work was recognized and all I can do is say thank you to the One who LOVES these children. He gives them tangible moments to encourage them to keep 'walking through the stench' and out into the marvelous light.