Ask me about my blessings, and I really won’t know where to start. If there is one thing I’ve learned from living here, it’s about how blessed I am. Not just physical, financial, or patriotic blessings, although each of those smacks me in the face just about every day. These blessings that I’m learning about as years roll by are really measured in my mind by their faces.
People like him.
People from countries close by and far away.
Sweet, treasured souls, who I never would have known if I hadn’t moved away from everything familiar to allow their sweet faces to become my everyday life, so full of blessing.
But the one face I might treasure more than any of them is Atina.
He’s not quite my son, and not quite my brother, but at this point he’s for sure family. I don’t know how many years he’s been living in my yard, but it’s been a few. In the beginning, we just thought of him as a kid we liked. And then as the years rolled by we saw the treasure inside him.
On any given day, Atina (who works for us) will wash my dishes, mop my floor, hang out my laundry, go buy me some apples, and then some sugar, scrub the toilet. And oops, I forgot the eggs, can you go get me those too? He does it with a smile. When I get home from teaching or shopping or visiting at the orphanage he carries in my things, puts them where they belong, asks me how I am. He’s learning to iron and he learned to speak French. He opens the gate when I back the car out, closes it behind me, and always waves goodbye.
When I was sick, he asked about me every day. When the kids are outside, he’s there playing along with them. Greta stands at the door and shouts, “Side,?!?! Side?!?!” And he lifts her up and carries her around until she fusses to go back in.
And don’t get me started about his love for Jesus. A few years back when Dave’s trampoline ministry got really going with the guys in yard Atina told Dave he really needed to go back to his village. To tell them. He said, “They think they understand about Christianity, but they’re really missing Christ. I want to tell them about Jesus.”
Now he’s involved in his Gourmantché (his heart language) small group at church. He brings his friends with him every week. Last week it was someone who had never been. The week before it was a few that are semi-regular. Atina is always there, drinking in the words, getting up to dance, holding Greta, understanding more and more.
This friend, like the others who have been in our home, have left an impression on my life that will always be there. He knows all about us. Sees us argue. Sees us love. Last week I had a flat tire at the Baby Home visiting M. Dave took him in to meet M for the first time. I’m excited to see what happens between those two boys (Atina and M) when they’re both living here. I have no doubt that Atina’s heart of compassion will bond him to sweet M in the same way mine is.
The blessings overflow.