A little girl tugged on my shirt, “Excuse me, who’s birthday is it today?”. We were at St. John the Divine Orphans and Outreach Center in the township of Mohlakeng in South Africa, helping with their annual Christmas party for close to 400 orphaned children. “It’s Jesus’ birthday…do you know who He is?” A big smile lit up her face, “Yes, I do!”
Those familiar with the book “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry may recall the theme of ‘what is important’. In the beginning of the book, the narrator expresses “In the course of this life I have had a great many encounters with a great many people who have been concerned with matters of consequence.” At the base of it all, we all have very different definitions of what constitutes as “important.” The Little Prince goes on a journey to discover many adults, all of whom focus on things that they hold as great matters of consequence, however, at the end of the day, in the grand scheme of things, all of those matters were not important at all.
Sitting amid hundreds of barefoot, giggling children filled with anticipation of what was to come, and waiting ever so patiently, I realized that this moment was a matter of consequence. Being in the moment…loving and laughing with precious children, who are loved and known by God. As a mom, I was humbled at how they sat waiting patiently for nearly an hour for their meal (for some of them, their only meal that day)…. they were rewarded with a plate of pap (mealie/cornmeal), a special treat of boerewors (sausage) and as a surprise bonus, a slice of cake! The joy of receiving this meal was apparent on all their faces, a reminder to me of the many blessing we hold.
As the children lined up to receive their single piece of candy, we tried to compliment each one as they came… the perfect white smiles that lit up their faces was an amazing gift and a reminder of the importance of taking the moment to stop and love on the one in front of us.
At the end of the day, I feel that this is what it all boils down to…taking the time, the moments, to stop and be with those God places in front of us and showing them love. Whether we are in an orphanage in a notorious township, or in our workplaces, or the comfort of our own home. A matter of consequences is giving Jesus all our moments… so in turn, He gives us the strength to stop and give our time and love to those around us.
The incredible staff of St. John’s work tirelessly to serve the children, receiving a meager salary of $150 per month. In the above photo, a grandma stirs a large pot of pap, their daily staple…I tried and only had the strength to stir it twice! If you are interested in supporting the amazing work of this center, please click here.
The children completely wiped Ryan out! They have a lot more energy and endurance of the hot South African sun than we do!
The amazing women behind it all… Mama Mante (Patricia). She has been faithfully serving the Lord in running this ministry for over 16 years.