We enjoyed celebrating Mirlanda's birthday in November. Mirlanda had never been able to celebrate her birthday - this was the first time she even really knew that it was her birthday. Out of all the Gracia children that we help with, Mirlanda is the "newest" to our family. She had lived with a godparent until this last summer. Thus, we have only gotten to know her since September when we returned from furlough. She is a sweet, quiet girl.
In preparing for Mirlanda's birthday, I asked her what she wanted. In Haiti, this question always refers to food. Since I usually make spaghetti on Sunday after church, she asked for rice instead. I asked if she wanted beans in the rice. "Yes," she said.
"And sauce, do you want sauce to go on the rice?" (a Haitian staple)
"Yes," she said.
That was it...I asked her what else she wanted and she stopped there. I asked if she wanted juice or pop, and she said juice. When I asked what kind, she gave me a brand name instead of a flavor.
I asked about dessert, and we agreed on a chocolate cake (brownies) like I had made for another recent birthday, after I suggested it.
As I asked her about her birthday meal, I was struck by how little she asked for. When I ask my own children what they want, they can give me a menu for the day - sometimes even down to the snacks! Yet, Mirlanda could only think in terms of rice versus spaghetti.
This being her first birthday celebration, I realized that she had no idea what the limits were, or where she could begin. She could not even fathom what a feast she could ask for. She had never been asked what type of juice she wanted, so all that she knew was the brand. She did not even know she could ask for a specific flavor.
This reminded me of the Sripture, Ephesians 3:20, "to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..."
Mirlanda was not able to fathom more than the rice because she had no way to gauge what was available. She had no experience to draw from, no wealth of menu options to think through. She had no idea what all we would have given her for her very first time celebrating her birthday. While maybe we would not have given everything she asked for, had she asked for a buffet line, she could not even begin to imagine what the options were.
We are the same way with God - we cannot begin to imagine the options of what we can ask Him for and all that He is willing to do for us. Over time, we begin to comprehend more of what is available, but we are always learning and never fully comprehend. His love for us is so much more than my love for Mirlanda. He sees perfectly, where I still see through my flawed perspective. He wants the best for us, whereas I can't even always see what the best is for all the kids I am trying to disciple. He tells us to ask for absolutely anything, and we don't even know that there are "flavors of juice" - we are still so basic in our thinking. I truly believe He looks at us, smiles, and says, "My child, if you only knew what all I would give to you."
If He gave us His Son, why do we ever doubt that He would give us any good thing? What more could He give after His Son's sacrificial death?
We ended up taking Mirlanda and her siblings along with our family to a restaurant to celebrate. The restaurant has good rice with sauce, and fried chicken. Meat is a rare treat for these kiddos, so Mirlanda was pretty excited! She got the biggest piece.
For dessert, we ended up getting ice cream instead of cake. It was the first time any of the Gracia kiddos had ice cream. They were all sold! We will need to do that again sometime soon, as it was probably the best part of their day.
The kids also enjoyed the playground at the restaurant.
In the end, we gave more than what Mirlanda asked for. I am so grateful that our God does the same. He is gracious to see what we need, and give it when we do not even have a clue. He hears our requests, and gives us SO much more. He is such a good God. I am so thankful that He continues to use "the least of these" - little children - to teach me about who He is and the love He has for me. May I start to imagine a little more of what He can and will do, and have the boldness to ask Him!
Gami & Cathi Ortiz
Best friends; married for 17 years; parents of five wonderful children; living on mission in Haiti since 2013.