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"At Face Value"

March 26, 2014

Recently we received a video that the sender described as the most beautiful one in the world.  Indeed, its beauty was grounded in a heartwarming message of U.S. soldiers returning home and surprising their families at various venues.  The video was a “3-tissue one” the first time I watched it and required 2 more Kleenex when I viewed it again with Tim; its profound impact was rooted in the expressions on the young people’s faces as their fathers suddenly appeared at their schools, sports activities, dances, cheerleading practices and so on.

If you could see our scrap books and photos albums from our time of service overseas you would realize that we are drawn time and again to the little facial palettes of children which so patently reveal their hearts.  Haiti, like a number of the countries in which we have lived is a treasure trove when it comes to opportunities to both interact with and simply watch the comings and goings of young people.

Just yesterday our partner, CONASPEH, hosted an evaluation for the mission team from the Evergreen Christian Church in Colorado as they were preparing to return to the States.  Typically during this time of sharing and discussion it is common for both parties to offer gifts to each other and one gift that CONASPEH extended was a song which was sung by two of the school’s classical studies students.  The girls’ voices were simply exquisite but it was their facial and body language that closed the deal.  All we could think was, “If only these kids had an opportunity for voice training!  What a skilled teacher couldn’t do with such natural talent and then the whole world might be blessed!”

The folk from Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church will be with us next week and they will bring two dentists as part of their mission team.  Even as gentle and smiling Kahala asks the children to sit in her makeshift dentist’s chair we see a whole story going on in their young faces.  The students sit quietly and rarely make a sound but their eyes are wide with a look that says, “Okay, this can’t be too bad because I see other kids coming out and they look all right.  At the same time, if I need to I think I can make a quick getaway!”  Kids are kids are kids…

When we visit communities outside the capital of Port-au-Prince we are able to see a whole range of expressions as children come face-to-face with foreigners from the U.S.  The youngsters are openly curious and jostle for a place next to us as we walk to the church where we will present an informational meeting on micro-savings.  The true ice-breaker is the bringing out of the camera and suddenly we have before us some of the greatest “hams” seen outside of Hollywood.

It is not always fun and laughter because we are ever mindful of the many children in Haiti who suffer from malnutrition, limited educational opportunities, the lack of decent and safe shelter, the abuses of child labor and health issues such as anemia, ear infections, sinusitis and worse.  As we look at these precious ones we see little animation in the faces of the nation’s most vulnerable and knowing their backgrounds we could be overcome with grief if we were not mindful of one thing.   It is this:  we have aligned ourselves with Christian based programs that routinely work to eradicate such misery and despite facing many challenges they remind us that even drops of water will eventually fill a bucket.

Those great-hearted ministries include longtime Global Ministries’ partners who have made education a primary goal and who continually strive to develop programs that work with children from pre-school to university to trades programs.  Additionally, leaders and staff understand that youngsters need sustenance to do well in school and working with supportive partners are able to provide students with at least one meal a day.  They also bravely step forward to remove juveniles from abusive domestic and sexually-exploitive environments and offer them opportunities for growth and a future.

We delight in seeing the faces of children light up with laughter and well-being but what we truly love is working alongside people whose life’s goals are to ensure that the countenance of ALL young people communicates joy, health, security, hope and the knowledge that they are valued.  Yes, they are valued.

So we thank you staff members, teachers and volunteers from the House of Hope and CONASPEH; Global Ministries’ partners and friends for your faithful prayers, ongoing mission trips and financial support; and young people for helping us to remember the joys in life and the many, many possibilities the good Lord brings our way daily.  We can see the love on your faces.

“The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”

Numbers 6: 24-26

Tim and Diane Fonderlin serve with the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH). Tim serves as a Reconstruction Consultant and Diane serves as a Sustainable Community Development and Micro-credit Consultant.

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