Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In the Midst of Hardships

I believe the Holy Spirit is here today strengthening us to hear God's truth that we are greatly LOVED by God. Also, that we may be in the midst of hardships on every side, but His grace is here to strengthen us to stand in the days ahead.
Tiffany Ann Lewis

Our students and their buddy in a braiding session.
Last Friday, I visited Agape Home with several students from the school I worked at. Our students were there for their scheduled visit with their buddies. They were paired up with the children from the home and for over an hour, time was spent with them playing, braiding hair, talking about life, praying, or simply hanging out. I was impressed with how huge the place was! What was even more impressive to witness was the enthusiasm that each student showed while spending time with their buddy. Each child there had either HIV or AIDS. Yet, they were loved and valued just for who they were in spite their illness. For more information on the ministry and how it got started in 1996, please log onto http://www.nikkisplace.org/ for the complete story. The place was founded by Avis Rideout who while volunteering at an orphanage dared to ask if she could bring home an abandoned baby with HIV. She wanted the baby loved and cared for. From there birthed the idea of raising other babies with HIV/AIDS and that grew into what Agape Home is today. Apparently, since the children there are given medicine, they are able to have the energy to play, study, and function as a typical child.
This boy was nursed back to
health after he and his mom
were found in the Burmese border.
While the playing continued with the children, I asked to tour the place. I saw the younger babies, the toddlers, and two women who were dying of AIDS. One was suffering from excruciating pain from her back that she couldn't even sit up. She was bent over in agony. Another was blind and Avis told me that she was ready to go to heaven but didn't want to die. My heart broke when I saw their pain and emaciated bodies. They were cared for and loved but their disease was taking its toll and winning. I groped for something to comfort them with, even with words, but I came up short. I ended up praying for them that the Lord would minister His grace and healing.

Later that night, I went to the airport to see my son's friend off. They lived in Chiang Mai for 13 years, but had to leave for good. She was a senior and studied at our school since Kindergarten but with their family situation changed, she wouldn't finish and graduate here. In spite that, she praised God for her friends in Chiang Mai, the life she lived here and this place always being home to her. My son was naturally grieved with the news of her leaving. They had been friends since 3rd grade. In her last few days, they spent as much time as they could together but the pain of parting was hard nonetheless. It will take another lifetime for me to forget the scene when I watched my son looked through the glass, as she walked to her gate. 
His friend is the small, distant, person in brown
further up in the picture. He stood there
until she could no longer be seen.
Sometimes, we go through life and we just can't find easy answers. We just have to store our questions in our head. We can ask God for understanding when we get to heaven. Still, the reality is that Papa God loves us deeply in spite what we go through and because of what we go through. His ways are higher than our ways and so are His thoughts but His great love for us is steady and constant. And this explains why there is a deep yearning in me to tell my son constantly that I love him these days. It's also why I also want to go back to Agape Home to tell those ladies that I love them. It's Papa God in me who is doing it. He loves them and as I pray to be His mouthpiece, He wants to do just that. I love them! It's His love for them that I feel in me thereby enabling me to feel love for them also. What a fascinating process! I first saw it in Nick Vujicic because he kept saying to the crowd of 10,000 people a few weeks ago that he loved them. When I got close to take his picture, I saw his eyes and I immediately realized that he meant every word! And now I know! Papa God's love was pouring out from him, that's why he could love! I get it! So in the book of Daniel, this is why verses 9:23, 10:11, and 10:19 all say a similar message, he was greatly loved. May we always remember it. We are greatly loved! No matter what we go through and how we go through it; painfully, oddly, confusingly, whatever-ly. Papa God GREATLY LOVES US! AMEN!

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