Everyday a Miracle

For Easter, my mom sent me a package and one of the little gifts was a jewelry box with the figure of a mother and her child. My mom didn’t write anything to explain the gift but she didn’t need to, I knew it was to represent my mother’s heart for Tenele. I immediately loved the little box, but when I opened it I nearly cried. In simple beautiful writing at the bottom of the box were three powerful words:

Everyday a miracle.

Oh, how perfect! And how true! Although I have been through my fair share of tears and struggles trying to help that young life I call Tenele-Bell, instead of focusing on the failures and disappointments and pain, I realized that it truly is a miracle EVERY day that I get to see her. And God multiplied a few days with her during my last week. And it felt like I was indeed living in a miracle–not because anything extravagant happened, but simply because I realized… everyday a miracle.

To write in detail that last week in Swazi would take a separate blog in itself, but I will sum up the important parts:

I met with Cedric…several times. The first time I was a bit scared and nervous, but I think it helped that I came into his world, so to speak, by meeting him where he’s at, no matter how uncomfortable it was for me at first. The second time was with Tenele and Tenele became more bold in front of him. In front of both of us and all of Cedric’s friends, Tenele said, “Mary-Kate, he beat me yesterday.”
“What?” I whipped around to look at Cedric.
He threw up his hands in defense and said, “Ask me why…”
“Look,” he lifted up his chin and showed me a scab mark on his neck. “From her nails.”
“Ouch,” I commented. And then Tenele pulled up her shirt sleeve to show me her marks, “He beat me with a stick.”
It was clear they had a fight about something the previous night. I put my arm around Cedric and said, “You know nobody touches my daughter like that, right?”
“I know…” he nodded and hung his head.

The last time I talked with him was a few days before I left…I bailed him out of prison. Now, it’s not what you think. He got arrested with a group of 15 others (including women and children) because they were at the dumpsite (which apparently is illegal) and the police wanted some money. It was either a 500 rand bailout out or FIVE MONTHS in prison! How ridiculous! Tenele came to me and asked for my help. At first I was hesitant. But she told me Cedric specifically asked for me to help. There was no way, I could leave him for 5 months for really doing nothing wrong. So I agreed to help…and it turned out to be a blessing.

While we waited at the police station and courtroom, I spent some amazing time with Tenele. She is becoming so much more tender-hearted and open. It was amazing spending an entire day just waiting, talking, being with, and holding my daughter. I noticed something different about her, something in her eyes. Really, it was like I could see a brighter, lighter Tenele. And it’s an incredible gift to see the Light of Christ start to chase away the darkness in her life. She’s not there yet…but getting closer and closer!

After the long day, we finally bailed him out, and I talked with Cedric about changing his life, improving his own situation, looking for a job, and letting Tenele go. God has completely softened my heart for this young man as well. I realized he is just in need of love as Tenele. And I have been praying for God to redeem him as well. And as hard as it is to admit, Cedric, in some ways, has been good for Tenele…good because he has taken her out of the “prostitution” scene and good because he protects her from other men and her step-mother. Of course, I don’t need to list all the ways he ISN’T good for her, but there’s always good that can come from bad.

The best part about the whole day…oh, I have to back up for this to make sense. (So, I have an amazing Swazi friend who has been an angel to me. And I had talked to her about helping Tenele, and she was both moved and committed to helping. Her first impression of Tenele wasn’t very good, as Tenele was not behaving well. And Tenele said she didn’t like my friend, either. [I had already told Tenele that this woman could help her.] So, I had been very discouraged that this beautiful plan of mine to get those two connected had failed.) But during this whole situation with helping Cedric, Tenele turned to me and said, “Mary-Kate, since you did this for me, I will go with you to meet her again.”

“Really?” I was shocked. I hadn’t brought my friend up again because I thought that bridge was already burned.
“Yebo,” she nodded.
“Tonight?” I asked.
She nodded and smiled.
“Okay!” So I called my friend and set up a date to meet that night. She had us over and cooked us dinner. And this night is when Tenele and I had the most amazing conversations I’ve ever had with her. She opened up about her life and her past. She listened intently to me and at the end of the night she asked if I was happy that we spent the whole day together. She didn’t need me to answer, because she could clearly see how much this meant to me… and I could see how much it meant to her, too.

This day…a miracle.

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