Break bread with your hands. Draw thanksgiving turkeys with your hands. Hold chopsticks with your hands. Play ‘chopsticks’ with your hands.
Run a hundred meters with your feet. Climb a mountain with your feet. Send secret messages under the table with your feet. Go to the market, stay home, have roast beef (or not) and cry wee-wee-wee all the way home with your feet.
+ + +
Raquel lives in Nicaragua. She lives in a place with mango trees and guard dogs. She lives in a place with approximately two-dozen other girls and a few house moms who keep everything in order. She attends school and does her chores.
Raquel lives in a place where she’s not at-risk to be sexually abused, as opposed to her former dwelling, the city trash dump. Raquel lives in a place where there’s responsibility and rules and the love of good, imperfect people.
When I met Raquel, she’d just swallowed too much Kool-Aid powder (part of a food-eating relay race we are all playing), and was spitting up the powder. Her head, downcast. Eyes sunken.
“¿Necesita un vaso de agua?”
A nod. “Si.”
+ + +
Dig ditches with your hands. Stomp out scorpions with your feet. Catch water balloons with your hands. Kick soccer balls with your feet. Build walls with your hands. Stand firm with your feet.
Draw suns and flowers and hearts and rainbows all over the cement with your hands, like everything in the heavens above seeped up from underneath, ‘tween the sidewalk cracks and the breath gaps in the soil.
Walk the lonely, uncertain road with your feet.
+ + +
La Villa Esperanza started in order to give girls a chance at a future, to instill in them a strong sense of self, and to show them how precious they are to God. I and a few of friends spent one week there. We played games, joked about who was the most handsome jugador de futbol (Neymar Jr., in case you were wondering), and talked to the girls about how important they were to God, how much their lives mattered and how much people cared about them.
‘The Villa’, our short-hand name for it, is not perfect, but it is, without question, a place of love and dedication. It sees each girl’s heart as a worthy place of devoting resource. It gives and gives again to these girls. Not because they scored high on an aptitude test, not because they live within a zip code or belong to a certain class — because God-ordained blood courses through their veins. Because God-breathed air billows in their lungs. Because every bit of them hums with God-made, fearful and wonderful life.
+ + +
Hold each other close with your hands. Wade into the ocean with your feet. Pull back the curtain with your hands. Leap into puddles and break up your reflection with your feet.
Stand at the door and knock with your hands and feet.
Bear one another’s burden with your hands feet.
Kingdom Come, Will Done with your hands and feet.
Manos y Pies. Hands and Feet.
+ + +
Raquel is a child of God as I am a child of God as Alex is a child of God as Michael is a child of God as Dayana is a child of God as Dre is a child of God as Allison is a child of God as Clint is a child of God as Philando is a child of God as Hillary is a child of God as Colin is a child of God as Nasir is a child of God.
+ + +
And All-Mighty and All-Powerful God scoops us up, slurps us up, catches us in his ever-expansive embrace, and it’s always “my child—my child—my child—my child—my child—my child, wholly and dearly loved.”
All prodigals. All lost. All found.
All creatures great and small. We see the gospel made manifest, in ways minor and major, micro and macro.
Here, in the palm of God.
Here, in the pupil of the mountain; in the turgid waves of magma.
Here, in the pupils of a young girl, the wonder and mystery of dynamic Raquel.
Link to the story of Xochilt (a girl at the Villa) and Villa's Story: HERE