Last week I was in The Dominican Republic with Compassion International. Preparing to leave home is a massive undertaking. I spent weeks preparing for the sitter, trying to get ahead with work projects, and praying for the trip. I packed light, just a carry-on suitcase filled with some clothes, necklaces to share, paper, crayons, and a stuffed fox for our sponsored daughter. I came home with an almost-empty suitcase and a full heart. It was an amazing, life-changing trip.
Steve and I have been to the DR many times over the last few months as we’ve expanded production of our handmade jewelry to a workshop there. It’s a massive opportunity to bring jobs to a country where unemployment is over 40% and many families are struggling to provide basics on a daily basis. As we’ve traveled, I’ve fallen deeper in love with the country, it’s beauty, and the people.
Traveling with Compassion, however, provided a different perspective into a country we love. We got to know individuals. We visited homes and heard stories from families affected by floods, fire, and the daily struggle of living in poverty. We saw hope and beauty.
One day we visited a Compassion center in a small town to serve lunch to the kids and see how God is at work. After the kids were done eating I broke out my paper and crayons and asked a little girl with sparkly brown eyes and braided hair to spell her name. As she gave me one letter at a time, I wrote out her name in block letters on a sheet of blank paper. As I tore out the sheet and handed it to her, a smile crossed her face and I felt a tug on my arm. A little boy was already spelling his name for me. For about 20 minutes, I wrote out block letter names as fast as my pen could scribble. I could feel how important this was to each child.
“See me.” They said without words as their bodies closed in tight around me. “Tell me I matter. “
As each child told me their name, I looked into their eyes and tried my best to see them. I wanted to notice the freckle on his forehead and her beautiful eyelashes. Each child, so precious and loved.
All too soon it was time for the children to move on to their classrooms. As they filed out of the room, I started to clean up my paper and crayons. Then something kind of surprising happened. A couple of the staff from the center came over and asked me to write their names as well.
“Will you write my name?” she asked with a shy smile? “And will you write my husband’s name, too?”
I was happy and humbled to write their names. They wanted to be seen as well. It wasn’t fancy or amazing, but having her name spelled correctly and written out on a piece of paper mattered. I think it represented something bigger, don’t you?
Each of us wants to be seen. We want to matter. Our name is symbolic of who we are — our person.
We ask God, do you know my name?
And he says “Yes. And I know every hair on your head. I know what you’re going to say before you say it. I know when you sit and when you stand up. You are precious to me. I know you and I love you.”
Do you feel unseen today? I needed this reminder, maybe you do as well. I’d love to encourage you and pray for you. Leave a comment and let me know how I can pray!