This will truly be one of many many blogs that will come in these next few weeks, and I’m sure far beyond that. I haven’t been able to blog for the last couple days and there is way too much goodness and heartbreak to pack into this one. The rest of my blogs I will be writing from America! I am sitting in Lagos now, and will hop on a flight to London tonight, and Dallas tomorrow- meaning tomorrow afternoon my feet will officially hit American soil. Can I just tell you God is so so good. My eyes fill with tears, and my heart has the sweetest ache already as I reflect on what the Lord has been showing me about Himself and His people in the last 17 days…I’ll start with just a quick run down of the last couple days- man they were sweet. Friday we went to the river and just spent the afternoon swimming. We rode there in the A place of Hope van which I think is like a 12 person van- yes, we rode there with 36 people in in- an hour both ways- 10 of those people being adults. It was so fun, and so different than everything I am used to. The kids were piled in but we had an absolute blast. The kids love learning how to swim, and were just so joyful as we tossed them around in the water. I heard more laughs that day than probs in my life- pray that that sound is somehow forever with me. sweet sweet sounds. After our river adventure we headed back to A place of Hope, and just spent the rest of the day together- eating cinnamon rolls, coloring pictures, reading books. just a really simple beautiful day in the bush…Yesterday was a really sweet day of just soaking up everything the Lord has been showing me in the bush, and through those precious people. We went to the market so that I would be able to bring a few Nigerian goodies back – well all that would fit in my mega packed bag anyway. yes, those of you that know me well know that I am the absolute queen of overpacking! For real, I could set records! After a typical trip to the market (which I love) we headed to take a good friend of the Starling family home. We were traveling like normal on one of the side roads of the village and then we turned down an even smaller road to get to where His home was- and in this moment every tough wall my heart had built in the last two weeks shattered. As we turned we spotted a little boy, couldn’t have been older than 10, wearing only a little t-shirt. He was albino, and had open sores all over his skin. He as completely alone and was just wondering around picking up rocks, attempting to eat them, and then throwing them. Because there is no mental health system in place in Nigeria people like this precious little boy are often labeled “mad people” and just left as animals to roam the streets and fend for themselves. The image of this little boy is forever burned into my memory, forever on my heart. I was at first just really thrown off, I wanted to get out, get him, take him back , clean him up, and just tell him over and over and over that the Lord made him and He was loved. The entirety of me aches not knowing if that little boy has ever heard in his life “I love you” As we pulled away my lip was probably pierced as my teeth pushed through the pressure the tears that I was fighting. I know the Lord sees that little boy, and that is where I will rest. I long to be faithful to pray for him daily, and just trust that the Lord truly does have him. Bev set such as solid example for me as we talked through it last night and yesterday- just in that we’re gonna continue to be faithful exactly where the Lord has – whether Nigeria or America- with every little thing He entrusts to us- relationships and all- faithful- and we will continue to pray for that little boy and know that God truly is Sovereign and in control. I pray that little boy knows hands of love one day, that someone will rock Him, hold him, and whisper His worth to Him, even if he doesn’t understand- that he will hear over and over and over again You are loved, You were created by the Most High God, and you are a blessing. As I type this tears pour out of my eyes, and I can no longer hold in the heartache I feel in Africa. I know we see this place on commericals, on our televisions, and all over Christian t-shirts, but for real this place is hurting, and we have got to continue on with His call. The Gospel has got to forth, in ALL nations, and we have got to love with His love, following in His footsteps. Seeking His glory, not that of men….I kept telling Bev I wanted a name to pray for Him by a name and today as I sat at the Enugu airport the Lord sweetly led me back to one of my favorite passages- Isaiah 61- as His word poured out- Beautiful headress instead of ashes- my heart went straight back to that little boy in the bush- so everyday from here on out- from now until I am old and gray- I will pray for Isaiah- and if the Lord ever allows (which I pray He does many more times) me to set foot on that beautiful Nigerian soil, I will ask to go back to that spot, and this time hold the hand of the little boy that today may seem forgotten although he. If he woke up this morning, outside and alone, and is now wondering around in the same spot in which we saw him. Alone-eating rock- one thing remains- we serve the God who sees- and that little boy, the one I’ll call Isaiah- he is not forgotten, and he is seen, by the One of made the universe, who made us His own. By HIM, most High, this little boy is seen. I rejoice in that and I weep at the goodness and the grace of our God and Savior, who leads us by His Spirit to see both the broken and the beautiful- and the combination of the two. There is so much more to write about- from making tortillas, to saying see you soon to the kiddos ( talk about some heart ache), to leaving Bev at the airport today (whoa buddy) – there is just a ton more to write about, and I cannot wait to continue blogging as I return to the states. Thank you so much for reading, for praying, and for the massive encouragement. Know that is such a blessing- for real- oh my word- i am overwhelmed by the amount of support. Praise Jesus, and thanks so much for your faithfulness to Him, and for extending His love to me. Please continue reading, and above that continue praying. In the days to come I’ll be posting tons of pictures 🙂 (get excited- the kids are stinkin’ adorable) and poetry that is really just an out pour of all the Lord is teaching me through Nigeria. So encouraged by Psalm 71 today- “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may CONTINUALLY come; You have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress,” (71:3) …so good. His Word, truly His, this trip has been such a constant reminder that we are to breathe it….dig dig dig today!…gonna go and maybe help cut some fried okra- as I wait with good friends of the Starlings in a flat in downtown Lagos- and then will head back to the airport in a few hours! Yay London, and sweet apple bottom jeans yay Dallas!! Cannot wait to tackle Abbs as she picks me up at the airport, and just sit down and listen to hear Africa stories, and share the ones the Lord has given me. As I fly back I am so excited to see my family and my incredible friends, my amazing parents, and the girls that are truly sisters to me- and at the same time my heart aches everytime I picture Ugo smiling up at me with his ornery smile, or the kids yelling my name as I snap their pictures. These memories will forever be so sweet to me. and I cannot wait to return to that soil, hopefully with Anna Joy, to really dig deep round 2 in Nigeria! So so thankful. Rejoice in who He is today, He is so worthy ! Will blog more from my London layover and then continually from the states! Grace, Grace, and Grace from Africa!