sunday was a good day. went to a relatively short church service (under 3 hours) where an 8 year old fell asleep on my lap and left a sweaty face print on my skirt... that was funny. it dried before i had to stand up, but it totally looked like i peed. erin and i walked the boy and some of his little neighbor friends most of the way home, and then we caught transportation without even waiting for a minute! that very rarely happens.
when we got home we started helping all of the WMF staff and my other team members get ready for a birthday party for 2 of the girls we know. it was a 16th birthday party for a set of twins, so that in itself made it interesting! i can't help but think of what the party might have been like if they were somewhere else... someone else.
the girls' parents were killed during the war, so the only relatives they have are their older sister and an older cousin, both of which are in their early 20's. i have heard details of their story through other people, but i don't feel completely comfortable sharing things that weren't shared with me, so i'll tell you a little of what they have told me directly.
when they were very young, maybe 6 years old, their village was raided and the rebels slit their mother's throat. they watched her die. at some point during the years between being orphaned and arriving in freetown, one sister was tied to a stake for some sick reason or another by a group of young soldiers. she showed me the scars, but didn't say much else about the event. her sister laughingly told me about watching the rebels force a man's hands into hot oil to "wash his hands of politics" after saying he would never vote for their leader. their cousin told me about how she found the two girls and took them with her she rushed toward freetown, trying to outrun the fighting. now they live in a crowded refugee camp outside the city. such full and heavy loads despite their young age...
but you should hear them sing and watch them dance. one twin is clearly more withdrawn than the other, but they are both absolutely beautiful.
so this celebration of life was unlike any other that i have taken part in... it was so meaningful and such an honor. after some dancing, food, singing, more dancing, one of my team members led a devotion and then the girls (the twins and their cousin) were asked to stand in the center of our circle. we were asked to take a moment with each one and tell them what we think is special about them and what we love about them... in essence, what about their life did we find worthy of celebration... i wish i could really explain the scene that evening, but i don't know how. i sat there watching the descending sun shine on those 3 amazing faces. i watched the staff talk to them, watched their faces change, their eyes drop. as we each took our turn to express our love, tears turned to weeping, and we eventually grew silent. as we sat, the cousin began to sing a song about heaven. i don't remember the words exactly, but i know i heard in it the promise that i need to remember today...
that our sorrows of the night would be replaced by joy in the morning.