This summer a group of college students headed to Goiânia, Brazil to work with children at our Learning Centers and help host an overnight camp for them. Abigail S. from Florida State University shares her experience with the kids on the blog today.
I always find talking about the children of Goiânia difficult to say the least, but a joyful kind of difficult, because it is an incredible challenge to ever find words perfectly fitting. Those beautiful hearts have changed my own forever and I’m thankful beyond measure for each of them. Alongside a truly wonderful team, I went with a desire to fall in love with the children, to share the love of Jesus with them. I didn’t doubt at all that they would touch my own life far more than I would theirs, but I had no idea just how much they would awaken and inspire my whole heart.
I know love better now for knowing them. I know Jesus better now for knowing them.
These children love without holding back. They have no inhibitions when it comes to affection. They want to hold your hand, be in your arms, sit in your lap, rest against you, kiss you and hug you. They are beautifully sincere in what they say to you. They want to share all they have with you. They want to do whatever they can for you. They want to simply be with you, talk with you, love you.
More than anything that is what they want, to love and be loved. What a reflection of God’s own heart in theirs! God pursues us and He loves us lavishly, more than we could imagine. Not because we deserve it or do anything to earn it – He just loves us. And He wants desperately to be loved by us, too. We didn’t have to do anything to win these children over. They pursued us and they loved us abundantly! They just did! And loving them back – well it was humbling and amazing to see what that meant to them. I haven’t seen love quite like I’ve seen it in these children, for others but also for the Lord. All of these children receive Godly love, care, and instruction from the absolutely wonderful and selfless staff and volunteers of Projeto Amar (they are truly good and faithful servants, wow!), and these children do know and love God. They worship wholeheartedly and pray beautifully. They hope in Him and their joy shines through. In many ways they have little, in many ways they have so very much.
These children forever hold a huge and happy place in my heart, full of special stories and treasured moments. Each one of them is so much more than wonderful! I could go on and on about every child I met and tell a hundred stories about how amazing they are.
Wyclif is the gentlest little boy! He is incredibly sweet. He was one of the kids that I became closest with, one of my special friends. We spent lots of time together but he was quieter, not usually very talkative. Gentle, quiet, sweet. One afternoon I was sitting with Wyclif when all of a sudden, he needed to talk to one of our translators, and then turned to me and said, “I love you!” And that just made my heart melt. I had heard the kids say all kinds of beautiful, wonderful things, even Eu te amo which is I love you in Portuguese. But to have one of my special friends turn to me and say, in English, “I love you!” – that is a treasure in my heart!
“Wyclif! Eu te amo!” but then he continued, suddenly with so much to say, having the translator ask me why I had to go, why couldn’t I stay, did I have lots of pictures of them so I wouldn’t forget them, would I come back, couldn’t I just stay at Projeto with them? I never felt so incredibly happy and sad at the same time. Of course I wished I could stay, and of course I took so many pictures of them, and of course I could never forget them. Wyclif is a beautiful soul, each of these children are beautiful souls. And these are just two of the children, two of the stories. I could go on and on with sweet stories of their hearts, the whole team could. I don’t think we could measure the impact that these children have had on each of our lives, and how dearly we love them.
Our team went to Goiania to show these children the love of God. We loved them before we met them, and when we finally did meet them, they stole our hearts. It is incredible to think that God brought together a team from all different parts of the country, and called them to the same city and the same children thousands of miles from home. Together we loved these children and together our own hearts were changed, because these children loved us and shared with us the love of God. We were called to Goiania, but not only did God place us in their lives, but He placed them in ours! 1 Thessalonians 2:8 reads, “So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” We cared for the children of Goiania, we loved them so much, and we were overjoyed to share with them the truth of God and ourselves. What is so very beautiful is that they cared for us, they loved us so much, and they were overjoyed to share with us the truth of God and themselves.