Friday, August 20, 2010
I have been writing a lot about children lately; how my time with them affects me, how they love, and other random thoughts. I have always known that I want to have my own someday, and raising a family is one of my dreams, but this past weekend put that dream closer to reality. I was on a team staying the night at an orphanage for kids who have been abandoned which also served as a refuge for mothers who have been abandoned which was a good hour drive outside of Monrovia, Liberia. There were around 15 kids that lived there ranging from infants to 12 years old, around 5 severely, mentally handicapped and there was one mother with triplets who had been abandoned.
It was a crazy place that, to be honest, I was not quite ready for it, mentally. As we arrived, the kids were shy and were made to sing us a welcome song. The place we were to spend the next 48 hours in was nicer than I thought it would be, at first. As you got to know it, it became less enamoring, but the hearts that the place housed became all the more wonderful. It was a simple building painted something like a school out of the 80’s or early 90’s with the bland yellow color and an ugly maroon shade occupying the walls. There was a TV there which was used every night when the generator was turned on, around 7 or 8 pm. One experience was the Liberian movies, which were like a bad High School drama production. We brought along a Veggie Tales movie to play for the kids, but I am not sure that they quite understood it fully, as a lot of the humor is very American. They liked watching it because they could tell it was well done though. The first night was occupied with dinner and getting to know the kids a little bit and a movie.
The next day was Sunday, and we had prepared a program for the kids for some point in that day. After a hot, restless night, I woke up to babies crying, which I would find out consistent ambience all throughout our two days at the place. As the day progressed and we played with the children, the Sunday “service” was called. We did our thing, or parts of it, and finished. The day continued and, as the team ran out of energy, the playing fizzled into naps and reading with the kids. That night, we got the front seat to another African movie, which was awful. Then we went to sleep, or at least I tried to.
The second night was worse than the first as it was just as hot, and I was too tired to sleep well. The bed I was on (we were very blessed to even have beds) gave me the impression that I was being invaded by a legion of bugs that wanted my flesh. I couldn’t sleep. The next morning I was grumpy, but the kids were not. They wanted to play, which is about all I could squeeze out of my energy.
Details aside, the trip was awesome, and the most touching parts were the attachment built by the kids to us, and to see how they appreciated us giving them attention. To see at least some of their needs met, not only by the things passed out, but also by the attention we gave them; especially the two of us men. God used us even though we were broke, even though we ran out of energy half way through and could no longer play with them that much.
As we prepared to leave, all the kids started to cry, which cut to my heart. I was too tired to cry, but my heart went out to those which I had developed a strong bond with. They were beautiful.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
We are now in Liberia!
It was my birthday yesterday, and what a unique birthday it was! After some down time in the morning, I was to go to a home for disabled people, most of whom are suffering from Polio. We were told that the home was composed mostly of children, so we prepared a simple program for the kids the day before.
The five of us headed out to the road to try and get a taxi after receiving somewhat vague directions. We could not get a taxi to pick us up so our group split into two, and the first group of two got picked up quickly, while the group of three that I was in had to watch as yellow Toyota after yellow Toyota passed us. We were once picked up but told that the fee was more than we were told to pay and had to leave. After about 45 minutes, some locals came and helped us flag down a car who let us pay the right fee only because we were Christians. Thank God for that.
When we arrived, we were shocked: there was one child in the home. The home was holding a service with us as the guests of honor; the pastors. So we prayed and then entered the home as the residents were singing worship songs Africa style, not quite knowing what we were going to do exactly. We did our program-minus a few silly songs-and the people seemed to like it plenty, but what happened after was the memorable part for me.
We split into groups to have prayer time. In my group was one of the leaders of the home, who asked me to explain the Ship more, so I told her that the true goal is to love people no matter what their circumstances. So I asked them how I could love and pray for them. They went around in the circle and gave me points of prayer including peace, joy, staying out of trouble, long life, and steadfastness (I had to bite my tongue every time I heard them ask for “prosperity”). I prayed for the points I remembered, but I felt a strange feeling of unworthiness deep down. I don’t know why, but I felt like they had more to offer than I did, even though many were in wheelchairs.
I am not worthy to be God’s servant, but here I am, praying for handicapped people in Africa, telling them about a love I have yet to fully understand. In my opinion I should have never been allowed to come here, due to a hard heart and an almost nonexistent faith.
I guess it is good that God’s opinion is not mine.