Sometimes I feel like the only time my brain works is right before bed. It is only once I am cozily tucked in that my brain decides it has some things I forgot to do. Last week this happened and as I went to remedy the situation I remembered I had received some messages I forgot to look at. You can be sure I was not expecting to be crying by the end of the letter I read, but that’s exactly what happened. Let me take you back just a bit. Sometime last year a sweet reader contacted me about wanting to paint a picture of one of the orphans in India. I put her in touch with my dear friend, Paige, and didn’t hear to much after that. Well lo and behold the message I received was from my reader Sammie. Here is what she had to say…I know it’s a bit long but this story is totally worth it.
Hi Elaini! This is Samantha Whitehead. Remember when I emailed you pretty much exactly a year ago asking for help for a painting idea that I had for my competitions this year? Well I wanted to thank you for helping me and I wanted to send you a photo of the completed artwork!
(Please excuse me if it feels like I’m jumping all over the place in these next paragraphs )
So yesterday you put up a post on Meghamala’s story on your blog and believe it or not I painted Meghamala for my project and yesterday was the final day of competitions! Hahaha oh it was such a blessing being able to see how perfectly God times everything with the blog post and competitions. So I attend a Christian school and there is a national association of Christian schools called the AACS and they hold annual competitions for the school nationwide. I live in Virginia and there are so many schools that we have to subdivide the state into regional competitions. If you get first in your category you then move onto the state competition and if you get first in states you go onto Nationals. This is no easy feat since from my freshman to junior year I’ve never even gone past regionals.
Anyways, for my painting I needed to fill out an “artist statement” which explains the process and inspiration for your artwork. In this artist statement (which I’m also emailing you) I wrote about Meghamala, Hosanna, and these beautiful children in India.
Now the reason I told you all of this is to tell you this: Meghamala not only won first in the acrylic category for regionals, but she also won first in states, and was able to travel all the way to the national competition where more than a thousand people were able to meet her. She may not have placed in the top three in nationals, but that’s not important; her story and all of these kid’s stories are important. No words can describe how much their stories touched the lives of the people who read them. I exaggerate not; dozens of people were left in tears (even a few guys ) and it really affected every person who read it. So here I am writing an email and I can barely see the screen because my tears are fogging my vision and my large smile is making me squint, just to say: God is good. God is good because these precious children and their stories were introduced to hundreds of people, and maybe, just maybe their was a seed of love and compassion for these children planted in at least one person’s heart.
So thank you Elaini for introducing me and hundreds of others to the stories of these children because it is making a difference in my life as I’m sure it is yours.
And as you rush around doing what ever needs to be done just remember, God is always good. God bless.
I was blown away and crying…and then I read her artist statement below and was just floored.
This project has a lengthy backstory to it, but it really began taking form when I was introduced to a ten year old boy named Hosanna last year. Hosanna lived in a home (part of Covenant Children’s Homes) for orphans, semi-orphans, and neglected/abandoned children in India. In November 2012 he was diagnosed with leukemia. After several months of intense treatments, Hosanna’s condition only worsened. My prayer was that the Lord would either heal Hosanna or bring him home. On February 20, 2013 the Lord answered my prayer and chose to bring Hosanna home. When his mother found Hosanna on his bed after he had passed away, Hosanna had written on his arm in marker; “I love my Jesus!”
Even with all of the reform taking place in India in the past few decades, there is still a large group of people, specifically children, which are forgotten and ignored simply due to their birth. If a child is born into a low caste then they must remain in that caste throughout their life without the hope for change. The focus is then shifted to providing these children with an education with the hope they can change their own future. But I believe that these children need more than an education, they need real hope. They need to know of a Great and Loving God who sent His son to die on a cross so that we may become a part of His eternal family. God’s promise is available to all, even to those the world labels as “Untouchables”. Once the children are able to break through the bonds and restrictions their culture has placed on them through salvation, then education will provide them with the tools necessary to rise to a position that their parents could never hope to attain. God’s love is the only reason a child such as Hosanna went from living in destitute conditions where others would say he had every reason to grow up with hate and bitterness to a ten year old writing, I love my Jesus, in his last moments of life.
That’s how my idea took form. I wanted to paint a little girl sitting Indian style on a dirt floor with a bouquet of really bright flowers, popping out from the bleak surroundings. The flowers would symbolize hope in a world with little to no color.
With the idea in mind, I contacted a friend of mine who then directed me to the head of Covenant Children’s Homes and asked for permission to use one of their pictures for my art project. After receiving her permission I settled on a picture of a six year old girl named Meghamala, a semi-orphan living in S.N. Padu.
Doesn’t this all just give you chills?! I love, love, love how God works. Our lives are all so intertwined and God is on the move and working even when I/we can’t see it. I hope this story and letter that Sammie shared with me and her beautiful painting of Meghamala will encourage your heart as it has mine.
(Photos/painting by: Sammie Whitehead)