It's true-I have come to have a love-hate relationship with Amani. And I know my feelings would be the same for anywhere else I could have gone and will probably go in the future. I love that there is a place like this that exists to provide safety, shelter, beds, meals, and love to children that so desperately need it. Here, and so many other similar places around the world strive to give to what each and every child needs and deserves. And that is commendable and admirable because it's not easy. It's not always smiles, hugs, and laughs. There are lots and lots of tears, screams, hitting, biting, fears, and hurts. The mamas and care providers strive to give their all. But there is a gap. An orphanage is not even close to being a home and a family.
In three short weeks, I've observed the effect this has on kids-kids we think are not old enough to know the difference, kids that have been here since they were infants kids that have only been here a few weeks. It affects them; it affects them deeply. It comes out in constant questions whenever I leave or say I have to go “Auntie are you leaving?” “Auntie, where you going?” “Auntie, you take me with you?”, “Auntie, you leaving on airplane?” all said with fear in their eyes. They are afraid someone is going to leave them…again. You see, in their short lives, they’ve only know people to come and go and most don’t come back. They’ve opened their hearts to allow someone to love them, and that person just leaves and they don’t get to go too. They’ve seen parents come to pick up their new son or daughter, and their friend is now gone. Sooner or later a wall goes up and they shut down. Why should they trust someone who is just going to leave? Or their “bad” behavior is their way of saying their scared-sending out a message loud and clear that says I don’t trust you.
I know and understand first hand that adoption is not for everyone. But, the Lord calls us, as believers, to care for the orphan and He promises to set the lonely in families. So what does that look like? What is my response? What is the church’s response? These are all questions I have been struggling with since before coming here. But seeing it first-hand has given me a sense of urgency. I wrote the first part of this blog after a particularly hard day with the kids. They were hurting and being completely honest so was I. The Lord has reminded me to take a deep breath and remember that He loves them so much more than I do. He sees their needs on a much deeper level than I do. His word reminded me this morning in Isaiah that His ways are not my ways and that His ways are higher than my ways. While this is not an answer to all of my questions, there is peace in that gentle reminder. There is hope in it too. Then He led me to Romans 8 and reminded me that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” My job is to love Him. My job is to walk day by day trusting and knowing that His plan is perfect. It is not always easy. For me, it seems that it is rarely easy since I like to know what the plan is and be in charge of that plan. But, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will reveal to me what my response is supposed to be-in His timing and in His way.
Here are a few pictures...