The mamas gather on the veranda in the late afternoon to sort maize. Young girls gather, too.
Their hands move swiftly through the kernels, sorting out the good pieces from the bad.
We join them in the shade, sitting, to learn from them, the job of cleaning maize. We want to help them; we want to get to know them. They are women with stories and women with hope.
The mamas talk of the children, the orphans, eight or nine dear ones to a home. These women are the ones who love them, teach them. We listen, leaning in to their stories.
They ask us (my other female team members and myself) about life in America. We speak our stories, too.
We weave our stories together; God weaves them tighter. Worlds apart in many ways -- and yet we are women, made in the image of God, with hearts that care and hearts that yearn.
Minutes pass into hours, and we still speak sincerely to one another, while sorting maize. We sort life out together, too.
The sun begins to set, slowly. My new friend, Mama Rose, stops what she is doing.
“My vision is poor,” she says softly. “It is getting darker, and I cannot see very well. I must stop working now.”
I feel a gentle prompt from the Lord and slip my reading glasses off my nose.
“Would you like to try these?” I offer my sister.
She slips them on while, simultaneously, a smile blooms across her face.
“OOOOOHH! I can see!” she exclaims, in her warm African accent. “I can’t believe the difference! I can still work with the maize and now, I think I can read my Bible!”
She is surprised. I am, too.
In the days that follow, my other team-mates and I find more glasses that work -- some stored away in a box in a clinic building, unused, and some of our own.
We bring the beauty of sight to the women who sort maize and surround the children with their love.
Many days, I think of them, remembering our time together … sharing life, gaining perspective, loving one another, encouraging one another – helping each other see.
I think of the women in my life, now – they help me see, too.
I do not sort maize on cool, concrete floors, under the warm African sun, with my women friends here in America -- but I do sort through life.
God gives me this gift of women friends – near and far -- and I am grateful for them. Very.