Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sadness and Sweetness

Saturday night, I wept for all the sadness and sweetness juxtaposed in a 20 minute ride to East Charlotte. After the church Christmas party there was a mix-up about who was supposed to take the Congolese girls home. I had the van so I drove them. It was late. It was Saturday night. I wasn’t thrilled about driving but I did it and Andrew went with me. He helped Anita get her post-knee surgery leg situated, but as we drove a bit, it began to hurt. We pulled off the road and moved her to the back seat where she could raise her leg and put it on the cup holder between the front seats. We started again and because all evening, Germaine’s African blood had revolted against the cold, I cranked the heat up to high. We were toasty warm as we drove the back way to Harris Boulevard.

We passed a house along Back Creek with lots of lights…tacky, gaudy, overdone, I would have thought, though I’ve seen so many like that the last couple of nights, I barely noticed. Germaine admired and announced, “Oh, look at those lights, that’s so beautiful! When I get my house, my daddy better watch out, I’m gonna go to the Dollar store so I can decorate it all up.” I will probably never pass that house now without thinking about Germaine.

She and her sisters live with their father, who loves them dearly, in an apartment in East Charlotte. They attend rough schools and don’t have much money. They are beautiful girls without a mother, desperately in need of the guidance, love, and discipline of godly women. Sometimes when I am with them, I feel so sad for all the hurt they’ve endured, all the things they need. I wonder how these motherless girls will make it in a hard world so full of danger.

Whenever I drive them anywhere, their banter in the backseat makes me chuckle inwardly. They are so free and so funny.

“Rita, where’s your purse, you better have it, you got the key; Did you leave that phone charger in Mr. Ed’s car, you better not, no it’s in Rita’s purse, Rita, you find your purse?”

“Angie, where’s my paper, oh Angie you better not left my paper there, I have to take it to school on Monday. Angie, she’s like our mom. She’s always checkin on us.”

“Miz Pinckney, can you pick us up for church in the morning? Miz Pinckney, I’m so hot, this heat is makin’ my back hurt. Miz Pinckney, please go slow over those railroad tracks so it don’t bounce my leg too much”

“Germaine, you know Daddy’s going to wake you up and make you take that medicine. He always knows what to do. Ew! He gonna make me drink that Alka Seltzer again. He tricked me the first time and he tole me to drink it and he asked for some and he didn’t tell me it was medicine!”

I injected a few comments here and there but mostly I listened. Then I asked the girls to sing. Sing in Lingala. The language of your homeland. The language of your heart. They balked a bit at first and then Germaine started in. Anita joined at just the right spots with beautiful harmonies. It was the sweetest, most beautiful singing I’ve heard in a very long time. When they finished, I asked what the words meant. Germaine told me it was something like, “Jesus gives you everything you need. What are you going to do for Jesus?”

As we pulled into the apartment complex, a man came out of a neighboring door, beer in hand and raced across the parking lot. We looked up toward their window and they oohed and aahed over the beauty of the lights of their little tree, which the Conrads had brought over on Friday afternoon. They were so happy with their tree and all the lights and ornaments. We said our goodnights and they headed upstairs to a dark, empty apartment.

I cried as I drove home. I was crying for the sweetness of their music and the beauty of their hearts. I was crying for the sad things in their past and for the hardships of the present. So many things juxtaposed in that short car ride.

Since Saturday evening, I have thought a lot about the girls and about their song. Yes, Jesus, what am I going to do for you…what am I going to do for these girls? Please, I pray, give me the privilege and along with it the willingness, the consistency, the courage, the patience, the creativity, the discernment, and the energy to love them as you do. Allow me and help me to come alongside the others that have been tirelessly, selflessly, sacrificially caring for these girls for the past few months. And bring some more people to love them and be your hands, feet, arms, mouth, and heart to them.

I am very glad there was a transportation mix-up. You meant that to happen, didn’t you Lord. You gave that car ride to me as a gift. You knew it was a gift I needed it, and as the girls beautiful Lingala song said, you always give us what we need. Thank you, Jesus.

4 comments:

Kelly said...

Beth, I too am so thankful to God for these girls' visit on Saturday night. It sort of woke me up to their situation. And again, I am so glad that you and Lori were here to take care of them! I have a long way to go before I'm ready to parent teenagers! Lord help me!

Kelly said...

Beth, I too am so thankful to God for these girls' visit on Saturday night. It sort of woke me up to their situation. And again, I am so glad that you and Lori were here to take care of them! I have a long way to go before I'm ready to parent teenagers! Lord help me!

Kelly said...

PS I'm making TN Corn Pone tonight (finally!). I'll let you know how it is at the get-together tonight.

Jen Unsell said...

Do you know if they will be at church on Christmas eve?

What are the ages of the girls?