Sunday, July 5, 2009

For them....

I've enjoyed writing in this blog, and many of the tour's memories and stories are preserved here. But this blog must come to an end, considering our kids returned to their countries two weeks ago. This is my last chance to brag on these amazing children, so I plan to wrap this up with a bang. [I will warn you that I may get somewhat sappy during parts of this entry.]

These pictures capture their personalities; I took the photos on a beautiful Virginia day several weeks ago (when all three teams were reunited at the end of the tour.)

My heart skips a beat when I stare at their faces--and all their personality traits and quirks flood my mind. Last week I sat down at a coffee shop to finish photoshopping these, determined not to get nostalgic and sad. No such luck: as soon as the first picture-- Jimmy's smiling face--popped up on my Macbook, the tears started welling up. It took everything in me to blink back the tears.

I hope these photos somehow touch your heart and bring a smile to your face. Consider where the kids come from and the hardships they've endured--yet, look at the peace and joy on their faces! We can learn so much from their humility and their experiences.
This final blog entry is dedicated to our thirteen kids. I wish they could see how much we (central team staff) love and miss them. More importantly I wish they could comprehend how much they changed us and touched our lives.

Suresh. I miss your bear hugs. That ever-present smile of yours! The way you worshipped on stage, holding nothing back. Your confidence in who you are...not afraid to go off and do your own thing when you needed some solitude. The love you gave us every day.

Zurufah. Your silly, dramatic facial expressions. Your fake laugh you forced when you wanted extra attention ;) Your heart which bursts with love for your friends/aunties/uncles on the team. Your vulnerability when you missed your family. I will always treasure the many, many notes you wrote and pictures you took the time to draw. 

Sarah. Watching you transform in the 10 months--seeing God work in your life after you accepted Him as your Savior. Your sarcastic attitude. Your dry and hilarious sense of humor. 

Rose. That enthusiasm and smile which can light up any room. Your continuous kindness and encouragement to those around you. Your compassionate heart.

Martin. A blossoming leader. That intelligent mind of yours which doesn't miss a thing! Your desire to do the right thing. That grin which stretches across your entire face. Being able to count on a hug from you every single day. 

Neha. Your gentle (yet feisty at times!) spirit. That laugh of yours which I could hear from the opposite end of the bus. Not afraid to let loose and let your personality shine through. What a privilege to watch you mature and evolve into a young woman.

Lincoln. Servant's heart. Always willing to help out--not because it was convenient but because you desired to be a blessing. Your goofy side. Willing to take the leap and ask God to be your Savior.

Jimmy. That contagious smile of yours. Your unique and hysterical sense of humor. The five phrases you repeat constantly, such as: "ah! I 'ate that!" and "Who told you?" Your incredible athletic skills--and getting the hang of things right away. I actually miss you almost knocking me over from behind when you'd surprise me and jump on my back. 

Yeshoda. A ray of sunshine that brightened our day. Your crazy giggles. Looking out for the well-being of those around you. Strong yet vulnerable and loving. Faithful. Loyal.

Maria. Your own person, not easily influenced by peer pressure. Genuine laughter. Sweet and gentle spirit. 
Isaac. Your questioning mind, always curious about living for God, eternity, Jesus, etc. Your passion for the things and people you love. Comic relief when you did anything and everything (dressing up... ;) 

Gift. I've never known a child as witty as you, continuously striving to throw in smart-alec comments or funny jokes. God-given intelligence. Fast learner (a good fisherman--even if you harassed me for my lack of skill.)  

Ezera. Sensitive and kind. Easy to get along with. So glad you weren't afraid to show us your entertaining and silly side once you felt comfortable. Loving. 

Thank you for being my family on the road!

[click to make larger]
Thank you, kids, for being ambassadors on behalf of your friends and family back home who don't have the opportunity to raise awareness of AIDS and poverty. Thank you for working hard. But more importantly for living and loving to your full potential.


Janine said...

That was beautiful, Ashley. I loved being able to see the pictures and read about each child. I know you miss them, I'm sure they miss you! I can't wait to see what God has in store for you next, dear!

Marc & Amy said...

I agree-- that was a beautiful tribute to each child. GORGEOUS photos of gorgeous kids & such sweet memories & words for each one.