I’ll start tonight’s post by saying a big thank you to Johnny and Fiona’s father who spoke on just this matter tonight….the things that have been stirring in my heart since before I arrived…not for myself, as He has already dealt with me on these things (not that I can’t use the reminder or don’t struggle every now and then), but for my tots here in the center. Thank you for helping me think through a few more things and put words to a few ideas I couldn’t begin to express!
I LOVE my baby house tots. No really. I really, really, really LOVE them. I’m not just saying it cause they are cute, cuddly, and do Bill Cosby-esque kids say the darnedest things quite frequently. No, I’m really whole-heartedly in love with each of them. Not that they don’t have their trying moments as all good little children do when they test the limits and I’m tired; or when they are having a bad day and everything else is going wrong all at the same time so you don’t have the time to sit with them and figure out WHY they are screaming their heads off in the middle of dinner time (which is quite unusual since food cures just about anything here). Nope even during the temper tantrums….I really love them and feel amazingly blessed and privileged to have this opportunity to love on each of them.
There’s a few things that break my heart though. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the facts though just so I can love on them appropriately. While these babies are NOT all true orphans they have been orphaned, abandoned, discarded, and left. It may just be for a few months, a year, a few years, or an entire lifetime, but they have been orphaned by their earthly parents. They are each striving for attention, love, security, touch, affirmation, and a sense of belonging. They need a family. They need a father. I know they have one…..an amazingly loving, giving, compassionate, merciful Father. He is my Father as well. He has spent a lifetime, an eternity even, loving and fathering me as He has them. But I’m old enough to know that and have experienced that. Someone tell my 15 month old toddler who has such abandonment issues that sometimes he can hardly stand to be more than a finger’s grasp away from you. When all he knows is his mother is gone (she died when he was 12 months) and then was abandoned by his grandmother at our center a month later (think him grasping onto her with tiny fingers for all he’s worth while we pried him off of her so she could walk away from him). That does something to you no matter what age you are. It breaks my heart that when a few of the under two’s get really frustrated, scared, sad, whatever and are screaming inconsolably they start calling mae, mae, mae (mother in Portuguese) and reaching out for you. Now, none of them talked before they came in here and we don’t use that word. The Mozambicans that take care of them are called Tia’s which literally means Aunt in Portuguese and the older kids know us as Mana (insert name here) which is just a term of respect for anyone older than you….like saying Miss in English.
It breaks my heart when I take one of the little girls out of the BH (who isn’t old enough to be “checked out” by visitors yet) to come back to my house for snack time, only to have her sit there all confused, absolutely scared, and almost shaking cause she’s out of the environment she’s known for the last 5 months. I try to feed her yummy food and her bottle and all she does is wanna sit in my lap with her little lower lip quivering, big tears welling up in her eyes, only to burst into tears with giant sobs for a minute, regain control, then lose it all over again. She wouldn’t even play with dollies, which she loves to do. As soon as we got back to the BH and I set her down gingerly, giving her a big hug, and telling her I love her, she looks at me, smiles, and then slowly toddles off to play, quite content to be back in the chaos of the BH.
I hate that when you walk in the door of the BH, a few of them always attack you with watch this, watch this, look at me, see what I’m doing; or the few that immediately come up to you with outstretched arms to be picked up. These kids here are truly loved on, but they have still been abandoned and you can see it in their eyes. They are starving. They are grasping. They may seem independent but are so insecure and unsure of who they are. There are a few that rarely smile. Not that they aren’t happy children, but they are all closed off in their protective shell. I absolutely LOVE it when I can get them to smile and laugh. They are beautiful.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” -John 14:18
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” -Ephesians 5:1
I’ve been contemplating this so much the last month or so, as I have posted on this matter before. It is still with me. It is still on my heart. We have such an opportunity to love these kids. I want to be able to spend time with each one individually. I want them to have this time. I want them to each know who they are, who their Father is, and how loved they truly are. It is hard for anyone to figure out who they are as a child of God; who they were created to be; how our great God could love someone like them, wholly, and without a price. This is an even bigger task for someone who doesn’t even know what it means to be loved, unconditionally loved. A love without requirements. A love for who they are, as a child of God. Not because of what they have or have not done, but because they have a beautiful soul that God has created and breathed life into, set them on this earth as He has me, for a divine purpose and plan. If they cannot feel this love, how much harder will it be for them to truly understand our heavenly Father that asks nothing of them, but to crawl into His lap and sit….safe, secure, loved, cherished, doted-on, liked, and held completely in His hand.