welcome to paradise

Our home is extra full of laughter and giggles this week.  Today is the last day of the term break for us here.  Monday the compound will be virtually silent before noon as school will be in session again.

My little darlings have a MASSIVE creative streak, an all out GIFT for taking would be trash and turning it into treasure. They spend hours sifting, searching, discovering, planning and creating a miniature doll mansion that spans yards of ground outside under our mango trees– a literal doll village if you will.

They pool their resources wanting every doll to have a bed, a room perfectly furnished just for them.  Just like I scoured bush markets, bounced on nonexistent roads, emptied accounts and pockets, poured out tears and hope and joy five years ago for them.   Just like Jesus is preparing a place for us.  Just like Papa longs for HIS house to be full.

So can I tell you what it means to me TODAY that my sweet girls spend their time imagining and creating their dream homes? These ones who had no homes at all just days, weeks and months ago.  Tears well hot when they bring me over to see their dreams all laid out.  I come to capture their art with my lens.

And my boys, well they would not be outdone (above).  In the shadow of the next mango cluster, they build model shops, lodges, vehicles and garages… a whole doll economy.

Our boys are all about the constructing: the mud, the walls, the roof, the tires… but our girls (right after their mama’s heart) are all decoration and design.  HGTV couldn’t do it any better and Mattel would be hard pressed to top their detail!  Our older girls even make functioning mini charcoal stoves out of milk cans that they cook for their village on (which are not to be touched if you are under 10 years old).

Jesphine (just to the right) is proud of her doll-sized pot of greens. Five years ago she was one of the dear treasures who came to live in the house I had decorated and prepared.

And in the touring of their pretend world, I find out more about the one I live in.  Tears spill down my cheeks as I hear that our children’s village now has a name.

My children name it for what it means to them.  They have christened this patch of earth where we live as one big family, just the 130 of us: Hai Paradise… and it is, it really is. 

Dear reader, may I ask you?  What is YOUR definition of paradise? How might you and Jesus create a piece of that paradise RIGHT where you are?