God has given Bethany Church favor among the nation of Sri Lanka not just in the Christian circles but in the Government as well. They have a great relationship with the Social Minister of the entire country, not sure exactly his role but he's big time and there's only one of him in the whole nation, AND he was wearing white linen clothes when we met him so that impressed me right off the bat.
On our itinerary for the trip was a charity event if you will at the Social Minister's home (imagine a mansion) where we would hand out school supplies to children. Shortly after arriving in country we were told that because of a death in the family we would not be able to have the event where it was planned but they would have to find somewhere else, to be determined. That morning we were praying for the day and my prayer was for the children, that wherever the event was God would make a way to tell the people that He would bring even more children than would have been at the Minister's house.
Once we finally arrived in the village our van pulled up on some event that was happening, there were drums and people and dancing. Immediately I thought, "how lucky they are having this ceremony and we can watch". It never crossed my mind that all the fuss was over us coming to their village. And it was! The ceremony was to honor us and the social minister coming to their community.
Here is a rice field on the outskirts of the village
We exited the van to be greeted by crowds, hundreds of people on both sides and a procession of the sweetest children I've ever seen. A particular group of them dressed in traditional white dresses each a little different. At the end of the line were two ceremonial dancers adorned in special jewelry on their arms and head, feet and neck a pair of strong men dancing and drumming to a beat. As we walked toward the people each child in white came up and handed each of us a stack of Beetle leaves (this is a gesture of hospitality in the Sri Lankan culture) and then put their hands together in prayer and nodded their head at us, as if to say "bless you". This moment straight out of a national geographic magazine was moving beyond words. I could barely hold back my tears, I just felt so unworthy to receive this place of respect and honor from complete strangers. It was as if we were celebrities- but we had done nothing to earn their adoration. Isn't that how it is with our God? He puts us in a place of honor and showers us with un-due privilege and favor, love and position. God has called us sons and daughters of Him, the most high king to ever be. I was overwhelmed.
As the ceremony progressed and we gave the children their school supplies, I felt a moment of understanding with the Lord that he had answered my prayer to bring so many children. I'm convinced it was even sweeter because we were visiting them in THEIR home, not making them travel to the city to collect the supplies. It was a privilege to see where they live and work. As we distributed the gifts I kept praying their would be enough bags and every time I thought we ran out someone would bring a handful from the building, like feeding the five thousand. The children lined up in such order and were grateful to receive such a small token. Some of them even bowed at our feet. In their culture that is a sign of respect and gratitude, but for me it felt wrong, like too much. I wanted to lift up their heads and just smile at them, as I believe Jesus would, just to say He loves you, it is our pleasure to give on his behalf.
There were so many more sweet moments wrapped up into that day, I could write for hours.
I just. feel. blessed.
Side note: I wish I had pictures to share from this incredible memory, I had no pockets in my skirt so I left my phone in the van- worst dressing mistake I made the whole trip.