I bought three apples yesterday for about two dollars. I can’t stop thinking about it!
Here is how it works… First, we get ourselves “ready” for the market on mondays…making our list, part of it is for us, and part of it I write separate so I can tear it off and give it to our “local guy” who helps us get some of the produce…but wait, I am getting ahead of myself. We have to get there and find a parking place near the market. Usually a guard waves his hand and whistles (literally, a gym-teacher’s style whistle!) us toward a spot that takes a miracle to squeeze into. Once our feet hit the ground, we are surrounded by lots of things: smells, noise, venders, the guards, and our aforementioned “local guy”, who promptly takes my torn-off list and heads into the market to find the things I’ve listed. Now we are on our own quest for the remainder of the prepared list.
The “list” is oh-so-important. You see, upon arrival to the Petite Marche there is no room for thinking afresh. It is a survival situation for us. the onslaught of stimulus is so intense that it takes all of me to just complete the list! Past the countless shacks and stalls and piles on the ground, searching for the right opening into the market so we won’t get lost in there. Watch out for “the trench” — don’t step in it or on it! God-only-knows what is in there, and by the looks and smell of it I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. Carefully step over it and move on.
All this time there are these precious children everywhere. Offering to help carry our bags. Offering to sell us something completely useless. Asking for food. Asking for a “cadeau”, a gift. Children of all ages. I want to cry right now just thinking of them…while my own children lie snugly in their cozy beds, my loving kisses still fresh on their cheeks. It is SO HARD for me to walk away from them! I want to hold them and tell them how much Jesus loves them and I want to give them what my own kids have — love and trust and hope!
I am getting the part about buying the apples…
So we march to the meat guy, push on toward the stall with the flour and sugar, decline a million offers for tomatoes, garlic, fruit, and …. continue to feel the little hands touching my arm, hearing the little voices “Mama!” …Pleading…”Cadeau?”
Lord, help me! I really want to DO something! These are YOUR kids! You love them! You made them!
The advice of the other missionaries here is to be careful with your gifts to the poor. I get that. The physically poor are everywhere here. You have to be wise and discerning, decide what your “policy” is and stick to it. This is very sound advice! These are Godly men and women, sharing their hearts and experience with us!
So we walk on. Oh okay, Andy breaks down each week and “hires” this sweet little 10 or 11-year old boy to carry our bags to our car. (for about 50 cents) This little guy finds us each week among the throngs of people! It is amazing!
Sometimes I just want to go crazy and just see what would happen if I let all caution go to the wind and just buy some food for the kids! Or take their hands and tell them that Jesus loves them! I want to throw out all the wisdom I’ve received and abandon myself to the compassion I feel.
So… yesterday I did. Three apples.
I sat in my car waiting for Andy to return from the busy market so we could go. My heart was so heavy. I watched as the children gathered themselves together across the street to strategize their begging. I waited. It was getting hotter, I rolled down my window. Two little girls crossed the street — they noticed me sitting there. Their precious brown eyes and snaggle-toothed smiles met mine…”Mama…Cadeau?”
Oh for once I am just going to lose myself!
I jumped out of the car without saying a word. Grabbed both little brown hands in mine and pointed to the nearest fruit stand. I ran with them to it and asked them if they would like an apple, one for each of them. Without waiting for an answer I ordered “deux pommes, sil vous plait”. I looked down and now there were three little brown faces looking at me! Oh no! “excus-e-moi! toi pommes”, holding three fingers up for him to see, just in case my French was as bad as I thought it was! Before I could pay, there were so many children surrounding me that I couldn’t barely breathe! Oh no — where were my little girls..the little hands I held as I ran across the street? I reached in the bag, grabbed an apple and thrust it into the first one’s hands…one older girl tried to rip it away…I said No! Then I thrust the next one into the second girls’ hand…she had to fight for it…but I think she got it and ran away. The third little girl I couldn’t find, but so many hand and arms were grabbing me that I just found the littlest one and thrust it there for her find…
I wanted to cry. Oh how I wanted to tell those first two …”Jesu, t’aime“… Jesus loves you. My idea failed. I just wanted to show some love, a practical gesture of God’s generous love…*sigh*…I have so much to learn here in this foreign land.
But I also felt liberated! It doesn’t work! Ha! I just had to try! My heart bursts with love and compassion for these kids, yet God has His own ways…and I must wait for Him to show me what to do or say.
It is like that no matter where we live — needs are right in front of us in every nation! I am comforted by the Truth of God’s Word that tells me that, “The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him – may your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him.” Psalm 22:26-27
I don’t feel badly that my plan failed. I am just excited now to see what kind of brilliant plan the Lord has for me here! How does He want me to show His love to the children? How can I pray for them? I feel the Lord’s pleasure in my abandon…my naivete. He is crazy like that too! Always throwing His grace my way, when I least deserve it! He laughs at my three expensive apples! “That’s my girl! She’s got my heart beating in there now…watch out!”
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes” Psalm 21:7-8
Oh Lord Jesus, may I follow You wholeheartedly and abandon myself to Your marvelous love! I want to love this dirty, messed-up world in a way that honors and glorifies Your Name. Teach me Your ways that I may walk in Your truth, give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name.
8 thoughts on “Three Apples & Learning Life Lessons”
Je t’aime beaucoup, Nikkums! J’aime votre coeur pour Jesus et ses précieux enfants.Tu me fais sourire et pleurer en meme temps. Ne vous arrêtez pas a la suite de votre coeur!
Thank you for sharing this Nikki. It is inconceivable the way most of the world has to live. What a blessing to be in the midst and to be actively serving. I often feel overwhelmed by the needs I see around me, but I know God can direct me to the next step he wants me to take, and I don’t need to know the lifelong plan! Love Sharalyn
The Nikki I know and love and learned from. Thanks for your truth and love. Blessings on all of you and WAY TO GO NATHANIEL!!!
Amazing Nikki! Thanks for sharing! I’ve been thinking about you so much the last few weeks and just can’t get a picture that the Lord spoke to you a decade ago of doing exactly what you are doing. I just feel so strongly that you are smack dap in the center of His Will for your lives right now. I pray over you and your family right now Eph 3:16-21…. May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthen and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Spirit. May Christy through your faith dwell in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it, that you may really come to know practically, through experience for yourselves the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience. That you may be filled through all your being unto all the fullness of God (may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself. Now to Him Who, by the power that is at work within us, is able to (carry out His Purpose and ) do super – abundantly , far over and above all that we (dare) ask or think ( infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts , hopes or dreams. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever, Amen (so be it!)
Love you Ember
Oh Nikki this brings back so many memories from Mozambique and the similar struggles we had with so many needs. It was crazy! It makes us walk into even deeper trust in the Lord!
Great story! We’ll keep reading and learn right along with you how to help the poor in God’s way. By the way, the verse you wrote at the end is actually Psalms 19:7-8. I only know because we just dedicated Pella and chose that passage for her! God bless you guys!
Oh Nikki, thank you for sharing! Your post left me weeping! You are in my prayers 🙂
Nikki….you are doing such amazing work! I love reading your posts and will continue to pray for you and your family…as well as all of those children wanting an apple. How blessed we are!!! Many blessings to you on this Easter weekend! Sending love and hugs from Richland! Carin