What Does Success Look Like?

I pulled up to El Precario to drop the kids off. One girl was reluctant to hop down out of the van.

“I don’t want to leave,” she said, her eyes penetrating mine.

We had spent a hectic afternoon at the library, in my opinion at least.

First of all, I had too many kids. Instead of picking up 6 for a watercolor class, I ended up with 14. (Yes, I need to learn to say no).

Some of the highlights included a little girl wetting her pants; looking over to see two boys rolling on the ground fighting and having to physically break it up; helping children ages 3 to 15 simultaneously create beautiful works of art with watercolors; board games, books and an endless stream of, “Leslie…look at this! Leslie… help me do this!Leslie… watch me! Leslie, Leslie, Leslie….”

And then my own son, Kai (9), decided that he messed up his painting and started to cry.

Time to wrap things up, I thought to myself.

I was feeling hot, frazzled and tired. Was this just a total disaster? It sure felt like it!

But then I look over and see Ana, totally absorbed in painting – she could clearly keep painting for several more hours. And I look at Steven finishing his painting. He’s the 15 year old sleeping on the street. His painting is beautiful and expressive – and, could it be? Is that a smile I see creeping at the corners of his mouth as he looks at it? I ask him to sign it and he scratches his name in the corner. I imagine framing it and hanging it in the library.

And now here’s Chorlin, staring at me, face downcast. She doesn’t want to go home.

I hug her as she hops down and we stay another 45 minutes in the barrio playing with puppies, chatting with moms and greeting kids coming home from school.

So in this type of work what does success look like? I think maybe success is messy ~ maybe it includes some fighting and crying, dripping paint and a constant need for attention. But it’s also hugs and masterpieces. It’s that feeling of accomplishment when you like what you’ve made. It’s love and friendship, chatting, playing and learning.

It’s hearts filling up.



6 Responses to What Does Success Look Like?

  1. Aimee Griffin says:

    Yes again you made me cry I love this and reading about Steven just made me realize how much i miss those boys ! you are doing an amazing job !!!!!! and yes sucess is messy but this work will never go unseen in Gods eyes even if other people never notice just what you do and what you have done in the lives of these children. God sees it and is blessed because liek the bible says let the little children come to me and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven ! my all time favorite verse. Jesus said he would rather sit with the children then the important people because to him children are important ! He said let the little children lead . ❀ you guys so much and what you are doing !

  2. πŸ™‚ That strikes a chord. And that’s only from dealing with two children… but I know what you mean about success looking messy. Life is messy, complicated, full of everything. Relationships building and growing, hearts melting… you’re doing amazing stuff there. I’m really glad I found you through this miracle of connectivity, you’re a real inspiration. I may not be in Costa Rica but the kind of thing you do is what I want to start bringing to the deprived areas of where I live here in the UK. Thankyou πŸ™‚ x

    • Leslie says:

      Thanks Messy Mama, so glad to find you too and thankful for the way we can connect online – countries apart, but with the same heart and purpose. ❀ Much love, Leslie

  3. Raquel Masis says:

    Hi! I started following your other FB page: Real Child Development and it called my attention the fact that you live in jaco, Costa Rica. Then I read about El Refugio. We are costarricans living in Phoenix temporarily. I just wanted to thank you for what you do in our beloved country. I just think it is amazing that you can give up comfort to do what you do…but I am sure that it is well beyond your will to do it…This is what being a Christian really means! I would love to keep following you and find a way to get involve…Again thank you God Bless YOU!!!

  4. Sarah says:

    Messy success. Thank you friend for capturing your heart and typing it up for all to see. This momma needed to read this tonight. It’s a beautiful filled to the brim with crazy purpose exploding kind of week. So far beyond overwhelmed with HIs goodness and the messy joy of it all.

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