Heirs to the kingdom...

Raising up Princes and Princesses
I wanted to share a little bit tonight about what's been on my heart for the past 2 weeks. I don't have answers, just lots of questions, and heartache, and I don't know what to do about it. Here's a little background about the culture I am living and the problems we encounter with a story. I'm just going to cut/paste part of the email I received from the director's wife, Ross yesterday to illustrate:

"...last week a few youth were caught stealing whatever they could from the transport area, mainly petty theft but these boys have quite a history of theft so along with our Mozambican leaders we decided to put one young man who was caught in prison (this probably saved his life).
Nikko informed us yesterday that the brother of the young man who was imprisoned was found stoned and beaten to death by community members in a field near his house, he had been dead for 4 days. Unfortunately this young man was found in his house with stolen goods, as happens sometimes in the community he was found guilty by the public and beaten to death. This is not an isolated situation, community people often find no retribution through the judicial system and take things into their own hands.
This is a shocking and sad way for a young man to end his life but it is common knowledge that this is how you will be treated if you continue to steal. Social mores like this are more easily learnt as children live in the community and hear the stories that happen to people around them.
Unfortunately the centre shields our younger and more impressionable children from these happenings which means they do not learn how to behave in the community. The perpetual acceptance of petty theft in the centre does nothing to teach the children the social consequences of theft from your neighbours."

Over the past month, we have received quite a few stories of youth like this that have truly struggled after they have left the center, but while with us were the role models, helped out as leaders, ect. When they left though, they returned to the complete and utter poverty and despair that burdens this country and while we help provide some of the things they need, including shelter, after they leave, it is not the same as when they were on base. They find drugs, alcohol, sex, and theft as means to escape the hopelessness of what they can only see their future holds. Some of you may be outraged at the story above. I'm sorry. It is truth. The rest of the world doesn't live so "civilized." Perhaps it's barbaric or even a throw back to semi biblical times, but it is how a community survives when there is no justice. Do NOT read this as me condoning these actions. Please understand, that God has given me a blessing since I have been here. I have not once questioned why this culture lives as they do, or why they would do such a thing, why they could litterally abandon a baby without food, shelter, or attention just in fear that it might have aids because the mother died of it; or even compared them to the society in which I was raised, as this is often our tendency. I am trying really hard to only see them where they are, understand it, and work in it. Love in it. Now, believe me there are some stigmas and things I pray can change slowly...like religion and poverty and the aids stigma/crisis.

These past 2 weeks I have been critical of HOW much the kids in our center are blessed. We have over 1000 short term visitors come through here. All that see a need and a hurt and willingly come over here to serve and love on our kids and the community we are in. I am thankful for that. But in that process, our kids are spoiled beyond measure. They do not know what it's like to go hungry, or be cold, or have no bed, or no shelter, or no running water, or no electricity while here. They have and then some. There are constant giftings and giving of food and items, most of the kids of Mozambique would never even dream of. I even see it in the baby house. I see the manipulation starting in the older tots. I have been praying for insight on how to change them, how to help mold them, and mentor them at such a young age when they have NO family environment. Do we shelter them too much? Do we give them too much? Now I know that if you came over here and saw the conditions, you might not agree with me...but walk out into the villages, take a drive even further out of the city. Perhaps the immediate blessing isn't that much of a blessing in the long run. So how do you bless and love on them without shielding them so much?

So the biggest problem I've been shown is with the tiniest tots in the babyhouse. The ones that come to us at 1 and younger...the ones that will literally be raised in and by this center until they return to the streets and villages. If we shelter them so, how will they learn to survive? A few would say the nurse in me should stop being angry when I come into the baby house for the 4th day in a row and the kids have candy in their mouths....again....I want to scream...bless them with protein or veggies or fruit but not the teeth-rotting non-nutritous pure sugar lard you just gave them.

I've been praying about how I can bless them and mentor them. I have started taking the youngest tots out of their cribs for the last hour before their bedtime bottle and playing soft music, reading stories, and just simply playing/loving on them for a few nights a week. The door to their room is shut and it's just me and 5 toddlers and perhaps two 6 month olds. They absolutely LOVE it! They all try to crawl into my lap at the same time just to sit. The tias think I'm crazy, but it's the only time they get that's truly quiet and they get semi one-on-one attention (yes, i know 7-1 is not 1-on-1...it's a better ratio then 10-1 with 23 other kids screaming around them) Myself and Rachel, another missionary helping in the baby house will be starting on monday taking 4-5 kids out at a time back to our place for snack time...quiet snack time where we will play and eat NUTRITOUS snacks two times a week! I so desire for them to be blessed with the experience of a family life....if they cannot have this, I want to at least let them share their individual personalities with me and get some undivided attention once in a blue moon. I want to help raise up Godly men and women that will be used to help transform Mozambique and Africa! Here's a few pics of the little princes and princesses...

Ryan riding bikes outside

Francisco playing bells during music time before bed

Me and Dionisio having a little bedtime cuddle time

Martinha Um (#1) playing with a bottle and sand on the playground

Dino playing before bed

Raquel swinging

L to R: Sam, Joao, me (Erin dois), Martinha um, and Nilton

Daniel and Martinha dois (#2) up top; Sina and Sam below; Arsina coming up in the back

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