“All these pieces, broken and scattered. In mercy gathered, mended and whole” –Broken Vessels (Hillsong)
Though I’ve heard this song hundreds of times, today it struck my heart in a new way. As we’ve been traveling around to bring the annual ‘Your Worth’ summit to different communities, I have so clearly seen the broken and scattered. Young girls stuck in the cycle of poverty, trying to raise their children while still learning to care for themselves at the same time. Many have been abused, others forgotten, and the majority unable to believe that they have the potential to rise above their current circumstances and to bring goodness into this world. Smile Again Families’ mission is to gather these women into the merciful arms of our Heavenly Father so that He can mend the brokenness and make them whole. We are not the Savior; we are vessels who, though broken ourselves, have learned to be put back together by our loving Creator. Our prayer is that these young women can learn to do the same.
This week Smile Again Families traveled to 3 different villages- one on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. In each village, there were about 10 mothers that were able to attend the summit. There were two talks given each day- one on self-worth/image and the other on finding your potential. Each group of mothers had a different dynamic, so we relied heavily on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our minds and hearts “…what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20). The main focus of the self-worth talk was to speak of our inherent worth as daughters of God and what that means, while the potential talk focused on solidifying your dreams and trusting that, with the help of God – in whom all things are possible – those dreams can be accomplished.
The smaller numbers of women left room for greater intimacy within the groups as well as more open sharing. Having a solid community of women plays a large role in the healing process, so it brought consolation to witness these friendships unfold. In the photos below, you’ll see a bit of the laughter that was shared between the mothers. This is just a small glimpse into the joy that we saw in each village as the days went on. We also witnessed some tears fall later on as a few mothers began to realize that this life truly has so much more to offer than the circumstances they’ve been surrounded by thus far.
Many of the challenges we faced revolved around distractions due to the environment. Meeting the mothers in their villages comes with its disadvantages such as not always having a building to run to if it rains, not being in control of noise level or space, not having power or internet to aid in the presentations, etc. We also had much more to share, as this summit is meant to last for three days, so time was another challenge. As an organization, Smile Again is putting their focus on fundraising for their next project which is to build a retaining wall around the mission house. Without this wall, the government says that they are not allowed to host mothers for trainings that last longer than a day due to safety issues. As the mission house was built with the purpose of being a place of refuge for mothers with nowhere else to go, this wall being added is a top priority in order for the organization to take the next steps. Of course funding is always a challenge, but we trust that the Lord will always give just enough, for He is never outdone in generosity.
On Wednesday afternoon, we spent some time thinking about our dreams as well. Fred and Stella talked about how the mission of Smile Again is a big one, but that our God is bigger. There may be many steps along the way, and the fruit may take a lot of time to be seen, but these women will be healed and someday have the power to transform society. I am so grateful for the realization that this is not in our hands, but in the hands of our God who desires the completion of this dream much more than we could ever imagine. We ask for your continued prayers and support as this big dream becomes a reality!
One of the activities was to place a piece of paper on your head and try to draw your face… one of the results!
The process of drawing…
A photo with the chairman of this particular village… he stopped by for a quick visit to learn more about Smile Again and to show support for the mothers!
Some of the mothers writing out their big dreams!
Sharing laughter during an icebreaker game. We played telephone, and the message was so distorted by the end! The mothers couldn’t stop laughing about it as the day went on!