“I lost my stuffed animals when my house caught on fire.” Naomi told missionary Mary. Even though her house had burned to the ground the day before, little Naomi and her family were at peace. They were thankful that no one had been hurt. They had very little to begin with, and now they had nothing. But they still had the peace of Jesus in their hearts.
The Bible calls God’s peace “The Peace that passes understanding” which is just a fancy way of saying, “Unbelievable peace!” There’s no way to explain that to someone who has never experienced it. It’s crazy. Standing in the middle of their pile of ashes and debris, the family said, “Maybe God has something better for us.”
We just happened to be there on the scene, some of us missionaries. We just happened to be hosting a team this week. And the team just happened to be working at the school just around the corner from the 3 houses that burned to the ground. And the families just happened to be Christians. And the children of those families just happened to go to the school where we were working. Was it all a coincidence? I don’t think so.
The next day we walked down to the charred ruins to see what the family needed. Turns out they needed everything. They walked us through a sad tour of the destruction. I saw a broken plate, some red fabric from something, the skeletal remains of furniture, stairs that lead to the open sky where the second story used to be. Then I saw the wall with the hand prints painted on it. The entire family had painted their hand prints on one wall… and that wall was not destroyed! They still had their family.
New backpack and stuffed animals for Naomi.
The team and I went to Walmart that morning. We bought clothes and shoes for the children. We bought a new backpack and school supplies. We bought bedding. But the thing that meant the most to little Naomi was that we bought her stuffed animals. The ones that she lost were the ones that her sponsor family had sent her over the years. The value of those lost treasures can never be replaced, but maybe, just maybe a new stuffed dog or bear will bring her comfort as the families begin to rebuild their lives on the ashes.
I read this quote on Facebook today. “The right thought, plus the right people, in right environment, at the right time, for the right reason, always produces the right result” by Dr. John Maxwell. I can only thank God for putting us in the right place at the right time to help these poor families who have lost everything. God is Good.
Not for Toddlers!
When we made the move into missions, we had the Garage Sale of the Century. My daughter Emma was 4 years old and it was the first time she had to face a sad parting with her toys. The girl loves stuffed animals. I had gone through all her toys and piled the rejects on the table in the garage. When I wasn’t looking, Emma would sneak toys back into the house. I caught her in the hallway with an arm full of stuffed animals. “They can’t go in the sale!” she protested, “They have families!” I had unknowingly been a home wrecker and had split up several doll families.
Other toys on the garage sale table included gifts that had been age-INappropriate at the time that they were received. A few years back someone had given Emma one of those sets of magnets and metal marbles that you are supposed to use to make sculptures or tinker-toy shapes. Clearly this was a “choke-able” for a toddler, so the whole thing had been tossed into a basket and stored out of reach. Emma had long ago forgotten about this dangerous toy… until she saw it on the garage sale table.
To distract Emma from the stuffed animal table, I put a movie on for her in the living room. Every few minutes I would peek in the door to make sure all was OK. But the garage sale started to get busy and I forgot about Emma. Suddenly I heard the phone ring in the house. Leaving Josh to man the sale I ran in, breezing past Emma standing in the living room, to the kitchen. Suddenly Emma started shrieking, “I’m dying!! I’m dying!!” (Remember, she’s the dramatic one.)
Dropping the phone I ran into the living room and found her standing there with a hand full of slobbery, metal balls from the forbidden magnet toy. Somehow she had found the toy on the table, collected all the balls, and popped them ALL in her mouth. When I went running through the living room I had scared her and she had swallowed one of the marbles!! Clearly because she could speak I knew she wasn’t choking, but she said she could still feel it in her throat. I called 911 and asked what I should do. They said call her doctor. I called her doctor. They said, “Stupid woman! Take her to the ER!” Maybe not in those exact words. So we shut down the garage sale and drove Emma to the ER. Fortunately I had the sense to bring along another marble to show the doctors what she had swallowed.
They measured the marble, they made her drink barium, they took several X-rays, they consulted and talked, we waited. Finally the conclusion was that the marble appeared to be moving smoothly through her system so we were out of danger. They told me that it would “pass” in a week or so. I should check her stool to make sure that it didn’t get lodged in her appendix. Come back if she runs a fever. Now all you moms out there know, I did NOT check her stool. Maybe if I had a metal detector on hand I would have made a pass over the toilet, but there was no way I was going to be digging through THAT! She never ran a fever, so I figured we were out of the woods. Don’t judge until you’ve been there.