Monday. What happened Monday. Oh yes!
Each morning at 9am, we meet in the chapel on the grounds to study God’s word with one of the full time missionaries. While we were sitting there, John Hanley told us about the work projects that needed to be done this week while we were here. There were several to pick from, I personally had already picked “Harvest Moringa” from the cards taped to the ice maker earlier in the day. I had remembered from last year the team told us about this miracle vitamin plant that the missionaries were researching and trying to incorporate into the kid’s diet. That plant is called Moringa.
Moringa is a bush-like plant that has thick stocks with branches like the one shown above growing out of it. A group of us cut off the branches and smaller stocks and harvested the leaves. Basically we just plucked them and put them in a screened tray so they could dry out.
Once the trays dry out for a couple of days, the dried leaves are then ground into very fine powder which is then used to sprinkle on the kid’s food to help them grow. It doesn’t alter the taste of the food but the kids get extra vitamins and nutrients without the added hassle of handing out 20+ pills a day. Sweet!
Another interesting bit about Moringa, the stocks can be planted back into the ground and it will regenerate. Isn’t that amazing? Oh man, I forgot to take a picture to show the ground. My husband said it was the hardest, most challenging job he has ever done…digging the holes to replant the stocks I mean. Each time he would go to dig a hole, the rocks would fall right back into the hold he had just dug. Jimani, DR is in the mountains which means the ground is rocky. So rocky as a matter of fact when I go out to the balcony in the morning to have my quiet time, my eyes hurt because the morning sun is shining on white rocks all over the place.
Let me go back to the devotion time. John told us that Moringa is in many places around the world. If you look specifically where it grows, those areas also have a high malnutrition rate. Isn’t that amazing?? This super food that God provides that can grow in HOT low rain climates and is plentiful in areas where food and nutrition isn’t available just like that. By the way, it grows in India, too! Our God love us so much. He cares about the little details. Do you think it’s by chance that these plants grow in these areas? I don’t. Nothing happens in life that isn’t filtered through or directed by the hands of God first.
While in devotions, many times we are asked to share what God is doing in our lives, what he’s revealed to us or just something cool that happened. I chose not to share in the group setting but I did share at our team session later that night. I just kept thinking about how God knows our EVERY need and EVERY detail of our lives. Let me back up and tell you one very important thing I forgot to mention about day 2.
Possibly, some of you here reading are from the 50 cent auction group on facebook that I belong to. God used Crystal Jacob’s jewelry to get that concept into my head yesterday. On Sunday, the timing just seemed wrong but I had won a bracelet with the tree of life on it. It’s an adjustable bracelet that has several different strands on it with different charms. I saw the charm several weeks ago, 5 weeks ago to be exact and bidding on each one posted and was out bid 3 of the 4 weeks before my trip. FINALLY the last possible week to win one, I did! It was awesome and I was very excited about it. When I picked it up, I was able to purchase another one which hadn’t been picked up by the winner. I had actually gotten outbid by someone else and lost that very bracelet just weeks before. Because of this I had one to give to Melissa and one to give to Kate, her daughter. I just thought it would be nice. I presented Kate’s to her Sunday after services and she loved it. She ran straight to her mom, interrupted her conversation and showed it to her. Melissa was so taken aback by it. I gave her hers at that point and she began to weep. I thought to myself, “Rut-roh. What’s wrong? Maybe she is just happy to have gotten a gift?” She wasn’t able to talk so Kate told the story.
In March or April, they lost their son. His name is Micol (in America it would be spelled Michael). He was Dominican born and was in his teen years. There was such significance to all aspects of the bracelet.
To start, there was the tree of life in the center. One of the reasons the tree of life is so significant to this children’s home is because Micol had had a dream and shared it with Melissa one day about a tree without leaves. As he walked closer to the tree he realized it had birds all over the branches and all at once they began to fly at him and past him. Melissa commented to him, “Gosh that must have been really scary!” Michael explained to her that it was a very peaceful feeling actually, not scary at all. In Isaiah, the bible talks about being oaks of righteousness. They claimed that verse as the way they would raise these children at the home. That all came through divine guidance.
Secondly, there was an infinity shaped charm. After Michael passed away, a friend of the family had a dream about Micol. I didn’t have the privilege of meeting him but learned that he rode a motorcycle everywhere he went. That’s typical here in the Dominican. In this dream he was driving a figure-8 as fast as he could on the grounds here. The sun was shining VERY brightly, but not hot. Just bright. At some point in the dream she realized he was actually driving in a sideways figure 8. When she woke up she asked, I believe her husband, what he thought the dream meant. He told her the sideways figure-8 is called an infinity sign which means never ending. He felt like maybe Micol was telling her that he was on the ride of his life now and never wanted to stop (get off his motorcycle).
The final aspect of the bracelet came from the two doves with a pearl between the two birds. Apparently for two weeks after Micol passed, two doves sat outside of one of the women’s door who works with Chadasha in the children’s home. She felt like it was a sign from God that everything was ok and that Micol was at peace. The pearl, if I remember correctly, comes from the fact that “Kate” means pure and they raise their children on a path of purity. Pearls are a symbol of purity.
Can I just say I had NO IDEA about all of this. I knew the orphanage used the tree of life as the symbol, that’s why I wanted to win it, but had no idea about the other stuff. As a matter of fact, I have never talked to Melissa or Kate ever before we got to the Dominican Republic. To be honest though, even the people who have been down here in years past didn’t even know the story behind those symbols. God is so good to meet us where we are and give us the assurance and the peace we need through the pain, at just the right time. For me, since I am not Melissa or Kate, for me it gives me hope that God really does know me, inside and out as well as everyone else around me. He sees all and is all to all of us if we are just obedient to listen and obey. What if I hadn’t kept bidding on those bracelets? What if those other women hadn’t shared their experiences with Melissa? Nothing in life happens unless it’s filter through God’s hands first. Simply amazing!
That evening, Becca and Matt gave Melissa and John a quilt that Becca and I had spent time putting together for the family. It was a family picture quilt. It was such a pleasure to be able to present it to them as a means of comfort, and when the time is right, memories.
I leave you with this (as it’s 11:57pm). Please don’t under estimate how much God loves you. He can provide anything you need, for any reason you need it. Many of the people in the surrounding areas don’t claim Jesus as their Lord. But you know what? He provided Moringa anyway. I didn’t have to win one of those bracelets, let along have the chance to purchase an extra one. But God made a way. Maybe you are trying to decide how you are going to buy meals for your family tomorrow. God’s got you covered, some how, some way. Maybe you are sick and feel like you will never get better. Trust in God and he will absolutely see you through to the other side of your pain and suffering. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and feel all along. Rest assured, he will provide ways to show you his love and comfort. I pray we all have eyes wide open and hearts full of anticipation to find it.
Edited to add: Day 4 blog.