Captivated by the children

I have been completely captivated by the children of Singida.

There is something in the golden-brown or jet-black eyes of a beautiful, brown-skinned child—something about rubbing their rough, buzz-cut, curly heads—that makes falling in love a daily occurrence here in Africa.

First it’s the children of the women who cook for us every day: Dona, Nasra, and Colin. Dona is a 4-year-old boy who has the biggest smile and loves to laugh and play. I am mesmerized by his face and how much joy it holds. Nasra and Colin are the cutest little girls, and while at first they cried at the sight of us, they’ve now warmed up to the point of giggling and letting us hold them. It warms my heart every day to see each of their smiling faces.

This is Dona 🙂
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Nasra 🙂
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Colin 🙂
From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

During the 4 days of the crusade we attended last week, children swarmed around me. More and more of them appeared as each day went by. I have never experienced such genuine, over-the-top love from so many kids at one time. Maybe it’s because I’m the red-haired “mzungu,” but I was a child-magnet, and I couldn’t help but absolutely adore it.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Amidst all of the craziness of praying for the innocent, beautiful children who went forward to accept Jesus into their hearts, and getting squeeze-hugged and used as a human jungle-gym by 20 kids all at once, I had what you’d call a “World Race moment,” or a “whoa Jesus moment.”

I looked down at these precious faces surrounding me and clamoring for my attention, and I was overwhelmed with an incredible love for them.
Jesus gave me His eyes in that moment, and I saw them the way He sees them.
I looked into their eyes—really looked—and my heart felt like it might explode.
Oh how he LOVES them!
There’s no way I can explain it except in that way.
My heart hurt because it felt so much love at once.
My human heart literally couldn’t handle all of God’s love for His children.

Not only was the LORD giving me His love for His children, but He was filling my love tank as well. One of the ways I receive love is through physical touch. During the 4 days of the crusade, my love tank was filled to the brim, literally overflowing with all of the hugs and hand-holding I was receiving :). It’s really funny, but it’s true.
I felt SO LOVED, it was crazy.

Because of this, as the days have gone by here, I’ve found myself getting crazier and crazier. It’s funny how I’ve started to not care how I look, but when I’m in the middle of a bunch of kids, I’ll be as silly as needed in order to get them to smile and laugh.
I love dancing with them and twirling with them and giggling when they giggle.
It’s all because there’s something in the children’s eyes here—something that seems to cry out for love, for joy, for laughter, for purpose.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

I don’t even know what I’m trying to say, exactly.
Except that I’m loving it here.
I feel like I’m finally coming alive.
I want to be involved in ministry…
I want these kids to be sponsored…
I want them to grow up as men and women who seek after the Lord’s heart with everything that they are.
God has incredible love for His children here.
Singida is purposed for greatness, for LIFE.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

And it all starts with a little love, a smile, a high five, a handshake, a quick “Jambo” as you walk by someone on the street.

I’m learning to invest, even though it’s painful when I have to leave my new friends every month. As I said goodbye to the children today after we played with them, my heart hurt because I knew this was maybe the last time I would see many of them. But when it comes to sharing the love of Jesus, it’s worth it, even if it means my heart hurts in the end.

From jesseischens.theworldrace.org

Your thoughts would look GOOD here :)