Our camp ended on Monday morning. We kissed and hugged our special kids (many times) and then waved goodbye as two vehicles drove them away. We spent the next hour or so collecting trash from the rooms, picking up water balloon remnants, putting furniture back into the correct place, etc before migrating to our air-conditioned rooms for respite from the heat.
A couple of hours later, we felt re-energized enough to stroll through the village. This led to an extraordinary birthday blessing.
In 2010, on a stroll through the same village, I met a senior lady sitting on a bench outside her home. I admired her handiwork, and she talked about her life. Without a translator, I could understand only a few words, but they were enough to tell me she’d had a hard life.
In 2011, I took a couple small gifts for her and prayed that I’d see her again. God answered! On the last day of camp, our team walked through the village and, lo and behold, there she sat on the same bench. I wasn’t sure whether or not she remembered me, so I pulled out my laptop and showed her the picture from the year prior. She grinned a toothless grin and proceeded to tell me about her life again.
This year, when we rounded the corner leading to her house, I saw only an empty bench. I feared that she’d died since last summer, but suddenly she appeared in her doorway! She struggled up a short, rough walkway to her bench and sat down. I approached her, greeted her in Romanian, and a huge smile crossed her face. “I know you,” she said. “Last year you showed me a picture of you and me together on this bench.” Then she pulled my face close to hers and kissed me over and over.
Again, she launched into a monologue about her life. Tears streamed down her face as she told of hardships she’d endured as a child. She’s 65 now, and her health is failing. She has cataracts, so doing her handiwork is no longer possible.
“What’s your name?” I asked when she stopped to take a breath.
“Anna,” she replied.
“That’s my granddaughter’s name,” I said.
Anna smiled again. “May God bless her very, very much,” she said. She nodded eagerly when I asked permission to pray for her. I asked God to reveal His love and care for her in a special way. Again, tears streamed down her face as she expressed thanks.
Then I pulled out two shawls my mother had sent along to give to “a Romanian granny who needs something warm for winter.” These pictures say it all.
Anna is only 11 years older than me. It’s hard to fathom the hardships that have aged her. Meeting her not once, not twice, but three times is no coincidence. What do I do with this? How should I respond? I believe God’s asking me to pray for her, and so I will. I’ll pray that He’ll protect her, heal her inner wounds, provide for her physical needs, and draw her into a sweet, intimate relationship with Himself. I’m also going to pray for the opportunity to meet her again in 2013.
Meeting Anna, praying for her, and blessing her with gifts to meet her practical needs was a birthday blessing extraordinaire!