Stephen & Laura Holt | Sierra Leone, West Africa

Hard Lessons

Date of original journal entry: Sunday, November 14, 2010

Psalm 69:20 And I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.

My heart is broken and full of heaviness as the scene before me crystallizes into a lesson.

A little girl, perhaps four or five years old, has tripped and fallen on the rough rocks of the dirt road.  A small pail which was on her head has also fallen, spilling its contents into the dirt.  The child is crying but the adults and other children looking on seem frozen, wholly incapable of helping.  I too am frozen, waiting for someone to comfort an assist the child.  But there was none.  Her older sister carefully sets down her own tray of wares and to my dismay utterly ignores her sister and begins to pick up the spilled groundnut balls.  Brushing off the dirt, she is putting them back in the pail so they can be sold.  They have more value than the bruised heart of the child.  After looking on the scene, the adults simply walk away; the child continues to cry.

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This girl is about the same age as the older sister in my story. She’s selling “biscuits”, what we call cookies, a kind of local shortbread that’s baked in an open pan over the fire.

I have witnessed this scene a hundred times over; people completely devoid of compassion for their own.  Young or old, it matters not; it is a cruel and comfortless culture.  We enter this harshness with a message of love, joy, comfort, and compassion but the people have nothing to connect it to.  Even their language speaks testimony to this as there is no word equivalent to LOVE.  How can they understand such spiritual concepts when they don’t know them in their daily physical lives?

As if a spell has been broken, I go to the girl and, picking her up, I brush the dirt from her legs and wipe the tears from her face.  Holding her little face in my hands I give her a tender smile and send her on her way.  They will learn – one life at a time.

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