"Tia Beca (Auntie Becca)!" I hear about 100 times every Wednesday in a small sweet voice. I'm usually mashing garlic with a big wooden mallot or cutting veggies in the kitchen. After I look in her direction, she smiles at me and then hides her face. On Wednesdays I spend the day at Dora's house. Some of you may know it as Projeto Vidinha. When she first came to the home Gabriella called me "baby." "Hey, baby!" she would call to me in her four year old voice with the air of a comment you might get on the street. "No, I'm tia (auntie), not baby," I corrected for weeks. It finally caught on.
Maybe one of the reasons I like her so much is because of her fat cheeks. They remind me of Anna's. She loves it when I kiss them and she squeezes me with tight hugs when I get ready to leave. She can't resist climbing up into my lap when I offer to read a story.
Denise was brought to the streets by her aunt when she was six years old. Her mother didn't know and searched for her daughter frantically for a year. "I just got used to it," she told me the other day as I sat with her while she nursed the youngest of her five daughters. Some days she's friendly and looks forward to seeing us. She tells me that the clothes I've brought for the baby are cute, offers me some cookies and plays with her daughter. Other days she's angry, won't talk, walks away. Maybe it's because she hasn't been able to get any crack; maybe she just can't get used to having someone love her unconditionally. She has one of the hardest hearts that I know. She never joins our circle for worship or prayer. She told one of our volunteers one day that she was possessed by a demon. I believe it.
Two beautiful princesses. One girl and one woman loved dearly by The Father who waits patiently for them to come home to His arms.
"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor" (I Samuel 2:8).
We treat them as we see them with our spiritual eyes, not our physical eyes. God, our Father, reaches out to each of them in their loneliness and hurt, even when they reject him. I often think of the lost coin or the lost sheep when I go to see these friends. We look for them even when they may not want to be found. Though this world and their families have abandoned them, God promises to make them heavenly royalty with crowns of gold. On those chubby cheeks or despite that hardened scowling face, we already see the glimmer on our friends' heads and pray that they would be able to fully live this reality.
We will be arriving shortly in your neck of the woods! This year, we will be attending a retreat for all North American Word Made Flesh staff. We are really looking forward to this time of refreshing our bodies and souls and reconnecting with friends from other fields. Of course, after the retreat, we look forward to seeing many of you! We will be in Atlanta (and surrounding areas) around the end of July. August will find us in New Jersey. We are always excited about and looking for opportunities to be advocates for our friends and our work here in Rio. If you would like for us to visit your church or small group, contact us to put it on the schedule ASAP. We can't wait to be with you!
Rich, Rebecca & Anna