Leaving the Ninety-Nine
Blog post written by Jamie Mathisrud
Newport Beach, California
If you read my previous post about the girl who didn't want to come to the quinceanera, you've surely been praying for her. Thank you. I believe with all my heart that God raised up an army of prayer and did what only He could do in her heart that day. We'll call her Mary, but that's not her name...
The day of the quinceanera, Sus Hijos sent buses throughout the country to the orphanages we had visited. They brought the squeaky clean, excited and perhaps a bit anxious girls to the beautiful hotel. I had asked our team to please find me immediately when the girls arrived from Mary's orphanage so I could seek her. I had told her that I would be searching for her first on the day of the event. When I heard that she had arrived, I was halfway through giving a special girl her "colochos" (curly hairstyle) and asked her if she wouldn't mind waiting a few minutes. I then ran out of the room, and as my eyes scanned the group, almost at the very back, I spotted her. I SAW HER! My heart burst within, but God gave me the strength to play it cool and not burst into tears. Mary wouldn't want attention drawn to her. Climbing to the top of the stairs, my eyes locked with hers (except when she looked around, seemingly certain that I was headed toward someone, anyone, but her). As I reached the final step, I opened my arms and hugged her, telling her that we'd been praying for her for the past two days, as promised. I told her that I had cut her dress and had it sewn to the length she might prefer. And I quickly went back to finish the hairdo I had begun...
Soon after, I was summoned to the dressing room to help dress Mary. I presented her with the dress and she hesitatingly began to allow me to help her change. But the moment the dress reached its place, she shook her said no and quickly started to remove it. My estimation of how much shorter it needed to be was off, and it was a good 6" longer than she wanted. She removed it, and my heart sank. And then it dawned on me - perhaps the greatest life hack of all was at my disposal: duck tape! I laid the dress on the floor, folded the hem to the right length and enlisted help to make the repair. She smiled doubtfully, then put the dress on. I helped her choose from the many pieces of jewelry our supporters had donated, and watched later as she sat to have make up applied, ever so sparingly, to her face. She was stunning in her simplicity and vulnerability. She certainly didn't feel like a princess, but she had come to be celebrated and that was cause enough for me to rejoice. The one out of one-hundred orphans that had touched my heart the most had come!
Just as I finished my final hairstyle and headed to the ballroom to watch the girls be announced and escorted into the ballroom, Lilly, one of our missionary partners, rushed to find me. Her eyes said it all. Mary would not be going in. My supposed miracle hack repair job had come undone, and she was embarrassed and hiding behind the men's bathroom. At this point, I knew the enemy was relentless and doing all he could to keep her out. Fired up and Spirit filled, I told Mary to wait there. I sprinted (in my evening gown --quite the sight!) down the stairs, and back to the dressing room, where I quickly grabbed a handful of mini safety pins, and began the long, sweaty sprint back. I pulled her into the men's room, ripped off the duck tape, and began pinning the dress up. I could hear the roar of applause as each girl's name was announced. I was sweating and flustered, and as embarrassed as I am to admit this, I was sad to not get to see the faces of those ninety-nine other girls as they entered the ballroom. At last, we finished pinning the dress. Mary was satisfied, and she walked into the arms of her "chambelán" (escort). I watched from behind as Mary entered the party and was announced, the last of the one-hundred girls to enter the ballroom.
I crept in from the back of the room and found my place. Tears filled my eyes and my pounding heart seemed to reverberate throughout my body. God had allowed me the privilege of loving and caring for the one, his precious princess. Watching that one victory had amazing power, and it was just a glimpse of the way God pursues us even when we are in pain and wanting to flee. Mary danced the night away and even allowed me to hug and snap photos with her throughout the night. As the evening came to an end, I handed her our gift, a Bible and other items, and watched as she sauntered away...looking more and more like the daughter of the King we believe she truly is.
"If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish." - Matthew 18:12-14