bless the mamas

Written by Sandra Heska King

PRAY EDITOR "Once a nurse, always a nurse," they say. But now I spend my days with laptop and camera in tow as I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary. I'm a Michigan gal, mom to two, grandmom to two, and wife to one. My husband and I live on 50 acres in the same 150-plus-year-old farmhouse he grew up in. I love this quote by Mary Oliver, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." That's how I want to live. And I'm still learning how to be. Still.

May 7, 2013


[serialposts]They mother the motherless, the mamas in this orphan village. The team that traveled to Jeremie, Haiti, the month before us went specifically to love on them. The photo of women washing the feet of women who wash feet nearly undid me.

These mamas carry hearts heavy with Jesus. Though some bring their own children with them, many leave them in the care of others so they can spill love into the empty, into children with no mamas or papas. (One of the mamas is going to school to become a nurse.)

They receive a small compensation along with room and board—likely pennies from our perspective. But how can mere money compare to their sacrifice?

Each mama makes a home for about fifteen children—all girls or all boys. They brush and braid and tie ribbons. They wash and fold and cook and clean. They make sure their charges get to school in the mornings and settle them on their mattresses at night. They soothe the sick, tend to scars, and smother with hugs. They’re the ones who chase away the nightmares and the fears, wipe the tears.


sophonie and her mama

(A little about Sophonie here and here.)

These mamas, they pour out and pour in, day in and day out.

And so when we took Christmas to the children in December, we also took gifts for the mamas and had some special time with them. We gave them beauty bags of lotions and sprays for those with beautiful feet.

We hugged and kissed and many of us prayed over them.

And then, one by one, several stood up and prayed for us. For us, the ones who had come to give.


We received so much more.

And I was undone.


And if you catch a whiff of heaven, it just might be one of these mamas passing by. Maybe you’ll also catch the fragrance of Bath and Body Works—maybe a little Sea Island Cotton or even Beautiful Day, a perfect scent for those who help bring a little beauty out of life’s rubble.

Today, I realized that though I pray for the children every single day, I’ve failed to pray for the mamas.


outside the kitchen

God, forgive me for forgetting about these precious women. Thank you for calling each one to this place at this time. Thank you for the perfume of compassion they so freely shed. Give them a deep sense of your presence as they minister to and care for these children. Nourish them with yourself. Help them to feed the children well, not just their bodies but also their souls. Help them to cling to the knowledge that they are your beloveds. Keep them healthy. Help them to reflect your light and to love one another. Bless their families, and redeem their sacrifice. Don’t let me forget them. Amen.



  1. Lorretta Stembridge

    These women leave their children to care for orphans or do they come and go to work each day? What an amazing point of view. Thanks Sandra.

    • Sandra Heska King

      Some leave their own children in the care of others to come. They live here day and night. It’s a way to provide for their own children, I suppose. I don’t know how often they get to see their own.

      • Lorretta Stembridge

        incredible…any way you look at it; complete love and sacrifice. Now…what was that I was complaining about? Yeah.

        • dukeslee

          My thoughts exactly, Lorretta.

          • Sandra Heska King

            Our Haiti friends can teach us a thing or two or three…

  2. Patricia W Hunter


    • Sandra Heska King

      I’m going back in December. I hope to spend a little time talking with some of these mamas, learn their stories. I don’t know how many speak English.

      • Patricia W Hunter

        Oh….you have so much to look forward to, Sandra.They may not speak english, but they’ll understand your love. xox

  3. Amy L. Sullivan

    OHHHHHH, Sandra. Even the first sentence has me weepy. This post resonates with hope.

    • Sandra Heska King

      These women are beautiful, Amy. And that kitchen up above. Build a fire on the floor and cook in kettles. No stove. No microwave. No sink.


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bless the mamas

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 2 min