I leave tomorrow for two weeks in California.
Before leaving, I wanted to run my gift by the refugee center, to my Nigerian friend and her baby.
I grabbed my name tag and drove over to the deserted looking site. I wonder how many people even realize it’s there, nestled against the low hill, separated from the main road by deep train tracks and road barricades.
I pulled up and found the place unusually quiet.
The usual line of laundry bags stretched out into the courtyard from the laundry room. The usual smells of home cooked meals, somehow still foreign and yet not, wafted down through the windows. A small boy smiled as he managed to carry a big bottle of oil and a jar of something else.
I spoke briefly with the social worker (she’s a gem!) before making my way up to my friend’s room.
Another young, single mother answered the door. Three single mothers and their three babies occupy this small space.
They were strangers assigned to this room so the crying babies could all stay together. So the crying mamas could cry together.
And yet, even amidst the hard, there is joy. Gratitude. Hope.
My friend knows this place is temporary. She knows it provides the basics at the moment but at some point, she needs to make a way for herself.
An abandoned mama in a foreign country trying to navigate a foreign language with a new baby.
And this is better than what she came from.
I walk up to her door with a Christmas bag full of winter clothes for her baby, Peace.
Yes, she named him Peace.
Peace, born in a country far from his mother’s home.
Peace, born amidst fear and worry and sadness.
Peace, living in a center of hard. Of despair. Of hope.
Sweet, sweet baby Peace.
He sleeps and eats and cries like every other baby… but his name is Peace.
And I can’t get over it.
I can’t stop marveling at the beauty of a mother cradling her newborn, born of a man who wanted this life extinguished. Born in the midst of a mother’s journey to freedom. Born into her loneliness, her longing, her trust that God would continue to care for her… and now this little one.
This one she named Peace.
I often hold Peace during activities for women at the camp, or at events, so his mama can have a couple hours with her arms free. She can learn to knit, or make beads, or enjoy the music.
And I get to snuggle Peace.
I get to pray the truth of his name over him, over his family, over each refugee, each person who struggles to cling to hope in their trying situations.
Peace has no idea that life isn’t exactly as it should be. The world is in waves around him and he sleeps. He smiles. He coos.
The door opens and the woman tells me that my friend isn’t there. She calls my friend on the phone and she and I talk.
I tell her that I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks but that when I get back, we’ll connect. I leave her gift on the bed.
“I’ll miss yooooooouuuuu!” she sings into the phone. I smile.
I drive home knowing that, no matter what tomorrow holds, the Lord of Peace has them safely in His hands. And I can’t help but think He smiles down on this mama who named her baby for all her hope.
For peace on earth.