I was sitting on the couch minding my own business when Rhema walked up to me and started pushing something into my mouth. She caught me off guard and I sputtered and resisted at first, not knowing what she was doing. I took her hand and found sprinkles stuck to her palm. Flower sprinkles.

She tried again, pressing one to my lips.

Rhema has a strong opinion about sprinkles: she LOVES them. I keep them on a high shelf so that she doesn’t eat a whole container full in one sitting. She’d moved a stool over to the cabinet, got down the sprinkles, and forced them into my mouth, I mean, offered me some.

Oh my heart.

I think you know. This was no small thing. This sweet girl, seeking me out… not to lead me to something she wanted (and just the fact that she looks for me is something I never want to take for granted). She came to me to give to me.

Brandon and Hope wanted some, too. She generously went to them with her sprinkles.

Thank you, Rhema.

During my junior year in college I had the life-changing experience of living and working at the Missionaries of Charity Home for the Destitute and Dying in the poorest section of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The mission was founded by Mother Teresa and I spent my days working with special needs children in the orphanage and sharing life with the young women who lived there. Every day we shared the same meal together: injera – a spongy, porous bread, topped with small portions of meat or potato and a sauce called shiro.

Injera meal (Source: Wikipedia)

Injera meal (Source: Wikipedia)

At these meals my Ethiopian friends would “gorsha” me. Gorsha is when you break off a piece of injera with your right hand, wrap it around a piece of meat, dip it in the shiro, and then put it in your friend’s mouth. Gorsha, they taught me, was an act of love and friendship. And the bigger than handful of food, the greater the love.

Honestly the gorsha took some getting used to. I missed forks and spoons. Our injera was gray, thin and bitter (the poor kind) and the shiro made it all soggy and squishy in the fingers. Sometimes I worried I would throw up. But when I began to understand it, this special way of feeding the ones you love, it touched me deeply. We did not speak the same language, but as my bonds grew strong with these Ethiopian women, I began to treasure our time eating injera. I will never forget sitting through entire meals with my heart and mouth wide open as friends fed me gorsha-style. They forever have a piece of my heart.

“I am the Lord your God… open wide your mouth and I will fill it with good things.” Ps. 81:10

Missionaries of Charity, Addis, 1995. I am third from the left, back row.

Missionaries of Charity, Addis, 1995. I am third from the left, back row.

Nineteen years later and my Rhema doesn’t know it, but she’s given me a precious gift. She’s taken me back.

Once I sat in a circle of women over soggy bread and sauce, in a home for the outcast, the orphans the sick and destitute; they nourished my soul and I felt so thankful and special to be among them.

Once Rhema gently pushed apple slices into my mouth, and I was comforted.

Today she fed me sticky flower sprinkles.

I am loved.

I am full.

10 thoughts on “Love-fed

  1. Hello Jenielle!
    How are you? Besides being full and blessed what else is there? I truly enjoy reading your blog. Brings me joy, hope, tears, thankfulness…. I love sharing in yours as well. Thank you.

  2. Even before you shared the story from your time in Ethiopia, the sprinkles filled my heart. You recognized, you knew that Rhema was coming to you to give, to share, to love. You heard what she was saying, and it filled my heart. Thank you. (Surprised I haven’t run into you at CBS yet, sending a hug!)

  3. So lovely! I remember reading about this in your book and I always admired how you took what they offered. I wondered while reading about it if I would have been so open. (Not so sure that I could have done it – and enjoyed it!) Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart!

  4. oh, oh, the tears in my eyes, heart overflowing…I love your gorgeous way of looking at the world, and I love how God feeds us through our children…

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