By Tess Frost
A few months before hearing about the summer 2016 Go Near trip, I was getting very tired of my status quo. I was tired of being comfortable. For a long time, I had felt called to Africa but had no clue how I would get there. So, when I randomly came upon a garage sale raising money for the trip, I knew that God was not going to let me leave without asking about going. So once I found out that I could go with only two months notice, I started thinking about what would be my focus. With my love for and experience with children, I was most looking forward to spending my time with the children at the Star of Hope school.
Upon meeting these children, you see how much admiration they have for you, and you definitely want to be seen as a strong role model for them. They make you feel invincible through their love and endless joy.
One day, different groups at different times walked from Star of Hope into the slums and made home visits to a few of the homes of the students. My eyes were opened by the people I met and the things I saw (but that is a whole different story). In the slums, I had to pray for God to give me strength so that I could get through it. Strength is EXACTLY what God gave me. But, once I made it back to the school and the gate was closed, I broke, and I started to sob. I sobbed for the people living in those situations. I sobbed out of guilt for my long-lived ignorance, and I sobbed for these children who knew this poverty far too well.
Some of our Go Near Ministry team visiting parents in the slums
A little girl named Charity grabbed my hand, wiped my tears (despite my efforts to hide them), and told me that I would be okay. She then took me to a patch of grass where she and a few other girls decorated my hair with braids and flowers. We then, as girls do, started planning a few team members’ wedding as they proceeded to put an assortment of flowers in my hair. We sang songs and laughed together. As you can imagine, this dried my tears very quickly.
From my first meeting with these children, I was amazed by their unconditional love and happiness, but it wasn’t until this moment that I fully recognized their strength.
I thought I was going across the world to be strong for these kids, but they were being strong for me.
I went from a place of such guilt and sorrow to a place of laughter and celebration.
This taught me about how we should be and how we should treat each other. These children set a perfect example of who Christ wants us to be. If anything WE should be the ones to be happy and joy-filled in order to set an example to the world.
That is the amazing thing about these children. They perfectly exemplify that. Through their lack, they give. They show love when not much love has been shown to them. And (as I put it) they welcome you into a home where homelessness resides.