Roanoke Rescue Mission

Mikaela: photo by Jeff Stanford

                Yesterday I was blessed to serve at the Roanoke Rescue Missions with two of my roommates and two good friends from InterVarsity. Help Portrait was there for the day and some of us went to help take pictures, and others to play with kids. Me -> playing with the beautiful children. The parents, singles, and children there are from all over, and all walks of life. I mostly helped run after tots while their parents were getting photos taken or just spending time with us and the photographers.

               I really don`t know what to write other than that it was incredible. There was so much pain and hopelessness is the eyes of some of the people there. Yet at the same time I was filled with this incredible joy of realizing how much God loved each and every one of them. I especially enjoyed playing with one little girl, Mikaela. She wandered into the photography room and you could tell in her eyes she wanted a playmate. I asked her mother if she was going to get a photo and she said no, only Mikaela, because she hadn`t done her hair yet. She was working on laundry and braiding another woman`s hair from the Rescue Mission. She was beautiful. I kept encouraging her to get her picture, because she really was beautiful, I saw beyond all she thought were flaws. Later in the day she came to get Mikaela and went they went and changed and came back for a photo. I was so excited. Sitting in line she changed her mind and said nah, only Mikaela will get one. And I was bummed again. But Mikaela took her photos, in her beautiful purple sweater with her purple beads in her hair. She was gorgeous, and so, so cute. And you could tell her mother was floored with happiness watching her pose for the camera.
             The day went on and I enjoyed watching everyone come in to get their photos taken, and even more so when they lit up with stars in their eyes upon seeing the printed 8x10 masterpiece. Each one of them was so beautiful. We spent time playing with the kiddos and laughing a lot from all the funny things they said and especially Mikaela`s super hero moves.
             But what made my day, was this. We were sitting in the studio with Mikaela on my lap watching people take photos. All the sudden her mom came in with her hair done and a beautiful red button up on. I knew she was there for a photo. She asked me to help her fix her sleeve cuff, and headed to the photographer. Yes! And she smiled big, Mikaela laughing from the chairs. And sure enough, lit up with stars in her eyes when she came back to pick up her printed photo. It was beautiful, just like her.

           After serving in Africa this summer I knew what a joy a picture meant to someone. Before that, I never thought they were that big of a deal to most people. Oh but how they are. They are just a taste to remind people how incredibly loved and valued they are. I pray those people realized how loved and valued they are by God!

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