Last week our family went to a village interior. I walked with my friend Esther to her “palace,” a large wooden building where she watches up to 100 kids every morning. The parents of these kids are students at the Bible school where Esther’s husband teaches.
The scene was chaotic—toys, puzzles, and books scattered every which way, and children from infancy up to about 12 playing, laughing, wrestling. I noticed a baby lying alone on a large pillow on the floor and knelt beside her.
As soon as I spoke to her, her eyes lit up and she smiled. I was thrilled, because usually most babies here over the age of 1 see me as a huge white freak and they scream and cry if I try to get close. This baby was more than happy to babble away with me. As she and I “talked,” other kids gathered around and we spent about 10 minutes enjoying this sweet baby, whose name is Aprilia (Indonesian kids are often given names relating to their birth month).
As I interacted with Aprilia and other children, Esther’s words from earlier were ringing in my ears. “We made it through the first semester without any children dying,” she had told me. “But over Christmas break, when all the students went to their home villages, three babies died, probably of malnutrition.”
Three died. Three little ones like Aprilia.
I think I sometimes get overwhelmed by statistics I hear or read in the news, and the numbers lose their impact. Fourteen killed in a suicide bombing. Dozens missing after a landslide. Hundreds dead after an earthquake. I may feel sadness and sympathy, but it’s hard to imagine those people, those numbers.
But three babies—just like the precious one I was holding—I could easily imagine that, and my heart ached for those families.
I’m thankful for the way MAF is helping to reach villages like the one we visited, and support the work of missionaries like Esther and her husband.