One of my favorite moments at the IJM Guatemala office is when I get to hang out with our clients. It is, as always, the smallest things that bring great joy to my heart. Last week, I held a client’s baby: he is 3 months old. I am amazed by the fact that his life started at about the same time that I arrived in Guatemala. How crazy is that?
His mom has been a victim of sexual violence for years, being abused by her stepfather. Even though our client’s mother knew of the abuse, she decided to remain silent. No one else knew about it until our client was impregnated by her stepfather. She was rescued from that house and is now staying at a safe orphanage/foster home. While I held her baby in my arms so she could attend her therapy session, I could not stop thinking about how messed up our world is. I restrain my tears and I sang the baby a song.
This child was not supposed to be here. His mom was not supposed to be raped; she was supposed to enjoy the world with all the innocence and beauty that comes with childhood. What happened to her is atrocious, it is not fair, it is a nightmare, and it is one of the biggest fears that every woman has, #YesAllWomen. Now, she is a 13-year-old adolescent, and a 13-year-old mom of a 3-month-old baby boy. Yet, while I held this precious baby boy, I strange feeling overtook me: I could see beauty in the unexpected pain, and a sweet melody came to my heart: it was a lullaby.
It has been 3 months since I arrived in Guatemala, the honeymoon stage is almost over, which means things are not as stunning or exciting anymore. Clearly, it is not enough time to say I understand the culture, but I am building a routine for my daily life, and I have learned 3 things so far:
- Here to serve: I am not here to make my ego grow. I am here to serve alongside an amazing team (IJM Guatemala) that fights and seeks justice for our clients. Service is a wonderful thing to do when it is not self-centered. It can come in different ways: translating-as-you-read a Clifford book for our clients just to make them laugh, giving a glass of water to a mom and asking – with a willingness to listen – how she is doing, and being ready to hug her when she needs to cry. Or, and by far my favorite way to serve, holding a baby and singing to him to let him know he is loved, precious and welcome in a world where he was not supposed to be, or at least not like this.
- Here to encourage: I am holding on to words of encouragement more than ever here (so yes, you can send me postcards, letters or emails), and I am trying to be intentional with my words to do the same with all IJM staff, new friends, and our clients. I want to build people up and speak words of truth, freedom, and restoration.
- Here to find beauty in the midst of brokenness: The children in our office have been sexually assaulted or they are a result of an abuse. I see darkness every time I learn their stories. At the same time, I see unending beauty in their eyes and their smiles. I hear joy and restoration songs in their laughter.
To wrap up this long post, I am going to ask you to imagine something and hopefully, you can share this special moment with me. I am singing a sweet lullaby to a 3-month-old angel with the same love and acceptance that God is singing a song to each of us, a song of love written with indelible ink – his son’s blood. A song that started before the pain and will remain for all eternity, a sound that lets us feel the bit of beauty that can be heard only after we have heard the most devastating cries for help, when we have felt their pain, and when restoration comes as a lullaby of freedom.
Love to you all,