The day at work started with a little five-year-old girl playing in the waiting room while her Mommy met with one of our staff. Fairly soon she was engaging me in her play of a make-believe tea party. I “drank” strawberry tea, lemon tea and lastly apple tea. The apple tea was so amazing that I asked her to write the recipe on a yellow post-it note. Her little hands deliberately and carefully wrote out the recipe: “2 cups of batter, 3 cups of sugar, 6 apples, 2 bags of tea and 10 cups of water”. We then decided to play store with some donated creams. She was diligent to stack them all in order and write a receipt for our pretend customer. I was delighted with this child who was showing me the intentional teaching that had gone into what her hands produced.
Fast forward a few hours and one of my favorite Papua workers popped in to ask me a question. I had been waiting for him to visit since Christmas. I had heard that over Christmas break he had lost part of his thumb to a wound infection from a knife injury occurring during a traditional pig roast. I knew that he had already lost parts of two other fingers in his childhood, probably due to animistic rituals. His hands are precious. They are never slack. He is always diligent to work hard, keeping our grounds of the school looking well groomed. I received his permission to snap photos of these hands representing so much about life in Papua. He grabbed my hand in thanks for helping him. A symbol of my life and hands amongst Papua.
A few hours later I’m working with a father and his young son. This father is courageously learning to give weekly injections that his boy needs. His hands shake ever so mildly as he focuses on the task at hand. It’s not normal to have to hurt your child and poke them with a needle and listen to their fear and tears. I marveled at loving, strong, firm, but tender hands that delivered something that is not yet understood, but one day will be. I recognized that I don’t always understand the hand of my spiritual Father towards me. Also, that some of the things He allows to happen to me are painful to Him and His hands, but He knows it is for my good.
Many more hands and lives pass through the door. At the last period of each day brings four teacher assisting students. They are eager to absorb anything that I want to share. Only a few days before, their hands were all busy trying to get a ring that was stuck, off of a finger.
Today one of them would be giving me a shot of saline, to practice. One of the students had joined us later in the semester. So with mastered understanding one of the TA’s methodically taught the new TA all the steps require, to give a shot. The newer TA then sat down to give me an injection and was so afraid. She kept saying, “I can’t do this to you. I am so sorry……”. It is interesting to be the patient and offering assurance and orders to the caregiver. Yet my mind can still remember what it felt like to give that first shot twenty-seven years ago. The hands must start somewhere to learn to follow what the head knows it must do. I am excited to know that her hands will gain courage and strength in the coming weeks and months.
Most lingering on my heart is the hands that I clasped at 4:40 p.m., the hands of my friend in prayer. A prayer of healing and blessing and some pleading as she walks in the valley of stage IV cancer with the belief that God will heal her. She returned to Papua on a faith journey. I went to try to be a blessing, but I am positive that she spoke more into my life in our short hour together than I into hers. While we sipped on hot tea and talked and shared with our hands, I received much. Messages of great faith, provision enough, a listening heart, and trusting in the unknown. While our hands waved goodbye as I pulled out of the driveway, our hands will never be the same because of the time we shared.
This is what I was left with today: that all day long different people come in and out of our lives. Their hands showing you much of what is going on in the heart. These hands are what we reach out and touch each other with. Hands that can hurt in love. Hands that can heal in hope. Hands that are ready to learn and receive. Hands that are afraid. Hands that are in need. Hands that believe.
As I slip into bed my husband circles his hand around mine in prayer and love. I love his sturdy strong hands that know me best. I curl up content and reflect in sleepiness on one more set of hands. Our Father’s hands. I am nestled right in them. Unbelievable, amazing, hands. Then one last thought before sleep settles over me, a thought that moves me and astounds me to my very core…..that we have been positioned to be a tool in the hands of God. What a gift. Hands.