I’m joining in with the Mercy Mondays linkup hosted by Jenn at Hang on Baby, We’re Almost…Somewhere. This week’s prompt is Motivation for Mercy. I’m reposting portions of a post from last June because they felt so relevant to this topic. I’ll be back after the quote to analyze.
Her name is Maria, and she’s [thirteen] by now. I met her [three] years ago when I went on a spring break mission trip to Honduras with Birmingham-Southern’s RUF. I don’t remember meeting her on the first day we worked at the orphanage where she lived, but by the second day, she had latched onto me and even remembered my name. She seemed to like just sitting with me. We didn’t share a language, so we couldn’t converse in the ways that I was used to, but for some reason she seemed happy with me.
The third day at the orphanage was visitors’ day. You see, not all of the children at the orphanage were orphans. Some were teenage girls who had been seized by the state in order to keep them off the streets and out of prostitution. Others were children who still had family in the area but no one who could afford to take care of them. And still others were on waiting lists to be adopted, so they received occasional visits from their future families. I had a hunch from the way Maria was clinging to me that she had no one coming. As Maria and I sat in the gazebo, maybe singing songs with some of the others, or playing pattycakes, two boys about her age came around taunting her. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but I could see that she was bothered. We moved to another location, but the boys followed. Luckily, a translator was there and she helped me get a handle on the situation. The boys were teasing Maria for not having had any family visit her that day and bragging about the gifts that they had received–exactly as I had feared.
Maria stormed off and hunkered into a ball and wouldn’t unfold for me. The translator came and coaxed a few words out of her. She wanted to sit with just me and not talk–just sit. I sat there with my arms around her and fought back tears. She went into her casita (little house) briefly, and I let a few go for the unfairness of it all. Why am I so blessed, my heart cried, when sweet girls like Maria have so little? She had never known love like I have been showered with my whole life. Evine, a friend of Maria’s came by and asked why I was crying, and I managed to convey in pidgin Spanish that I was sad for Maria because of the boys who were not nice. Evine stayed with us when Maria came back and worked at cheering her up, while I struggled to tell them about how much God loves them. We went off to a corner of the playground and played hand clap games until finally Maria smiled again. When it was time to go, I told her “esta bien” and “te amo.” With a big hug, I assured her “hasta manana.”
And then I got on the bus back to our hotel and cried. No one had ever even gotten mad at those boys on Maria’s behalf. She was so tough, probably because she had always had to be. The only visible sign of anger I saw was her throwing a small rock at one point. But other than that, she just shut down. She put up a wall. And what words did I have, especially in Spanish, to break through that wall and convince her that God’s love and mine were real?
Eventually there was no manana, and my group flew back to the U.S. I promised myself I would remember Maria and pray for her. I’ve done better at the former than the latter, but I do think of her often. That afternoon left a crater on my heart for the brokenness of our system.
That crater is my motivation for mercy. Maria is my motivation for mercy. To do mercy for those who cannot do for themselves. To be mercy for those who have no one else to be mercy for them. And above it all, there is One who has done mercy for me, too. Sometimes it feels like my mercy has been so much more than Maria’s and it feels so unfair. And so I go out and become the hands and feet, to make manana come.
I borrowed this picture from Facebook. If you’re reading, thanks Hannah!