Thursday, October 11, 2012

Faith Like A Grain of Mustard Seed ... Day 10

"This is not the tea party I wanted ..."

And her thundercloud face told the rest of the story.

Faith, middle child of Joh and Mera Chelli, is someone to be Taken Seriously. She is an exquisite girl to whom people are naturally drawn. It's not her beauty that makes them stay, however, but her decisive, expressive personality and her quick, clever mind.

Singing with big sister Hannah at
Daddy's birthday celebration
She has a Presence.

Everything she does is with intensity and passion, and she expects that same standard from others. She knows her own mind and she doesn't suffer fools gladly.

I had been a fool with her tea party. She had planned her own tea party and told her mother about it before we ever got to Bangalore. She had told me that she had a silver tea pot and it was supposed to be a party for just her and her friend; I had been persuaded that we should expand the event and it would be even more fun.

The table was set. The special cake had been ordered and picked up. The invited guests had arrived, bubbling with anticipation.

(Click on this picture to see her face ...)

Oh, she was gracious and served everyone. But her little lower lip trembled when she had to pour hot chocolate out of her silver tea pot and it was quickly empty. "I knew it!" she muttered. Refilling the tea pot was "just not the same."

At the end of the party, although she never spoke another negative word, I knew that this had been one of my Colossal Failures. I had let down the Guest of Honour and it was up to me to make it up to her.

I crouched down next to her. "I am so sorry, Honey - I didn't do what you had wanted. Will you please forgive me?"

The tears gathered on her long eyelashes, and she hugged me. "I just wanted to be able to talk to you," she whispered. 

"We'll get it right," I resolved; and so we arranged a date for another tea party, the kind she needed.

Fortunately Auntie Deb knows all about what makes a tea party Even Better, and she produced Nutella and a bottle of sparkly nail polish for the occasion.

The appointed time came and there she was, hair brushed until it was shiny, new party dress on, radiant and fluttering with anticipation.

She sat on the magic carpet and she became the Princess Faith. 

The food was simple - "I don't need lots of food" - and the conversation was fascinating. She talked about school and church and singing and games and Princess Jasmine.
"Ac-tually ..."

"Ac-tually ..." she would say, when explaining her point of view. And her little left wrist would flip her hand from a palm-down to a palm-up position.

She has an amazing curiosity about the world and a sense of wonder, which makes even the smallest, simplest events become fascinating.

She is at ease with herself and she has a deeply ingrained sense of self-worth that has carefully and lovingly been established by her parents. Joh is a push-over for his girls, of course; Mera is patient and logical and disciplined and understanding. They live simply but there is joy in every day, and Faith absorbs it all.

There is something else she has that informs much of her actions and her words even at this tender age: faith.

Dad has often said that names are so important. They can indeed set the tone for a baby's life, and the choosing of names is not something to be taken lightly.

As is the case with our Faith. On Sunday evenings at the College campus church they always open it up for a time where people can share what God has done for them or how they have been blessed. There is never any hesitation at these times - people are pretty much lined up to share about the goodness of God.

The last Sunday evening before College graduation, a man bounded up to the stage. People started to chuckle at just his presence and someone whispered to us that he was a natural comedian who could make everyone laugh by being himself. However, tonight was different.

He started to talk about how it had taken him five years to finish a four-year program. Studies did not come easy to him, and English was always a challenge. Still he had laboured on, despite impecuniosity and despite hardships in his own family back home.
Gazing at the candles:
"This little light of hers ..."

However, in the last part of this last year he had become discouraged. The studies were so hard; the money was so tight. And then, the last straw. He got word that his mother was sick, perhaps dying. He wanted to go home, but home was so far away - over a week by plane and train - and he had no money. If he went, he wouldn't be able to come back in time to finish his degree. He felt desolate.

He told how one day he was heading to class, slowly, slightly late. He was overcome with sorrow. He was thinking about leaving.

Suddenly out of nowhere appeared Faith. "Uncle Kola," she called to him.

"That was a surprise," he commented. All the kids always call me 'CocaCola', and here Faith called me by my real name."

He stopped walking because she seemed so serious. "Uncle Kola," she repeated. "We heard that your Mummy is sick. I am praying for her, and my family is praying for her, and we are praying for you."

He had to stop speaking as emotion threatened to overcome him. "The word of encouragement from little Faith made me have to stop. I got tears in my eyes and I couldn't go to class. I went back to my room and I wept. I knew then that I was not forgotten."

He got word shortly thereafter that his mother had taken a turn for the better and was on the way to recovery. He was going to graduate this week, and then he was heading home, back to his people, back to see his mother.

Faith and I talked about CocaCola later on. She was not at all surprised that his mummy was getting better. "We prayed for her," was her response.

I told her that there was a verse in the Bible about her. Jesus said in Matthew chapter 17 and verse 20, "If you have Faith like a grain of mustard seed ... nothing shall be impossible!"

We were in the kitchen and I rooted around Raja's spices until I found what I was looking for:

That's like me?" she asked excitedly. She studied the tiny grain carefully.

"Faith like a grain of mustard seed," I answered. 

"It's not very big ..."

"That's all it takes," I reminded her. "Your sharing your faith - yourself - with Uncle CocaCola changed his whole attitude and way of thinking. What you said was all it took."

She nodded solemnly, eyes enormous. Soon she went off to play with her friend. But the lesson she taught me that day has stayed with me.

Faith's faith - her utter confidence that God was in control - and her willingness to speak out to Kola made all the difference for him.

I can't wait for the next tea party we're going to have in March ...



  1. This is amazingly beautiful...thank you, Jesus for precious Faith!!!

  2. Karyn i love reading your blogs, you see such beauty and meaning in everything. Thankyou.

  3. There's never a dull moment with Faith. She's an amazing girl. I love having her for a cousin. Now she's loosing her first tooth and is very excited about it. Thanks for the blog Aunty Karyn. :-)

  4. Loved this story about Faith! She is truly a dynamic little girl. Miss her and my other nieces dearly...Bamasi

  5. Most excellent description of little Faith. She really is a bright girl and enjoys lots of fun. Aunty Mera has the perfect environment for the kids and is most kind and generous. Miss u all.

    Kelvin (pinky) !!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing the beautiful post about our Faith. It brought tears to Johanan's and my eyes. We never really knew how much she impacted people and their lives. We thank God for her (Hannah and Jaida too) every day.

    Sometimes, we get frustrated with our children and after reading your blog it made me realize how much I need to be a better mom. The Bible says "children are a heritage of the Lord" and we need to be so careful to bring them up in the fear of the Lord. Please pray that I will be able to do that. Sometimes, I feel like such a failure as a mom, but just to know Faith is growing to trust God in prayer makes a world of difference. I totally forgot about the Coca Cola testimony, thanks for remembering and sharing.

    We are all doing fine by Gods grace. I just wanted to let you know I love "reading the leaves ", thanks for putting so much thought and detail into each one. I don't have much time but here and there when I get a moment in the stillness of the night I enjoy reading your blogs just to escape from everyday life. They are such a blessing. Keep up the wonderful work the Lord has entrusted in you.

    We are so looking forward to your return to Bangalore in March. Faith is too she will be ready for her tea party, actually :)!!!!


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