“Joy happens where two poverties meet” I read posted under a Facebook photo.
I think for a while, and nod my head in agreement. I see it happening here in Lima, Peru.
And I felt it last Monday at Cerro Azul beach, jumping into the chilly waves with the
children from the Juniper Tree Children’s Home, watching them enjoy the cold of the Pacific ocean.
‘Maia’ and ‘Lila’ holding hands and jumping in the waves.
‘Lucas’ having races to see who could stand up first and longest on the surfboard.
‘Milan’ content to just lie on the surfboard and be pushed again and again into the rush of the wave. ‘Otra vez! Otra vez!’ She pleads, till I’m sure my sunscreen has worn off hours ago.
‘Victoria’ timidly watching from a safe distance, and finally convinced to get on a board and give it her best try.
I stand with the cool waves lapping, the midday sun keeping the perfect balance between hot and cold. Pushing surfboards out to the waiting instructors, cheering wildly at the success even if it was a split second before the wave knocked them over. A more picture perfect day South of the Equator there could not be.
Joy is spilling all over this beach.
Just the night before we had been listening to the stories of these children’s lives…filled with neglect, abuse, sadness. Such a contrast to the laughter and joyful shouts all around me.
‘Amy Jo! Go for it!’ I hear. And the instructor is motioning me out. It’s been 3 years since the last time I went out alone with a board. So much waiting and falling and I barely got up. Can I do it? But the instructor tells me exactly where to position my toes, paddles me out over the breaking waves, and positions me for the perfect run in. ‘Wait’ he says’till I say ‘Ya’, then you go! I look back, see the wave coming and start paddling…ahhhh too soon! And I miss it. But he patiently repeats ‘Wait till I say ‘Ya!” y tu puedes!” The wave is coming, I hold onto the board with tight grip, listening and resisting the urge to look. ‘YA!!” I feel the push, stand and sail in toward shore to whoops and cheers, several of them my own.
And I think back to a journal entry I wrote 3 years ago.
“Surfing…so like waiting on life, needing to be ready, positioned, watching for the opportunities to come, ready to throw everything into ‘catching the wave.’ And all that waiting…so worth it when the power of the wave comes.’
So hard to wait. But so worth it. I am so thankful for this moment, for these children who have been rescued from so much pain, who have been given the gem of a day at the beach. I know that this day, and the joy they share even through their own poverty are a gift to the lonely places in my own heart.
“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”Mother Teresa once said. And there at Cerro Azul beach, I saw so many letters being written. From house parents serving picnic lunches, instructors patiently teaching, big siblings helping little ones. From the children, their courage to try new things, their laughter, their discoveries, and their joy.
From God Himself who whispers to my heart:
‘Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning’
I have stepped for the moment into their world and their lack..and they have stepped into mine. And maybe that’s where the morning dawns.