I’m so thankful for some of the unique opportunities raising the girls in Haiti allows. Yesterday, we all piled in the truck with Maria and Elisa (our good friends from college who arrived yesterday morning), and drove an hour to a children’s home. We’re friends with the couple who own the kids’ home, where they currently have 60 children under 3 years old.
Almost 100% of their children come in because of extreme malnourishment or medical emergencies. The home tries to help these kids return to good health, whether that means a few months of good food, working towards medical visas for major surgeries (like heart deformities or brain tumors), helping with surgeries, etc.
Then, the kids’ home tries to return the children to their original homes, or if the situation in the home is so desperate that the family is sure that the child will simply return to his or her original state, the family can choose to release the child to the children’s home, who immediately starts working to find adoptive families.
We all drove out yesterday for a fall party, and Lily was THRILLED beyond belief to find a playground. A real playground. And kids. Lots of kids. We were happy to meet several other younger missionaries from this children’s home and from an orphanage in town. While there weren’t any other kids there who spoke English, Lily had a blast none-the-less.
It has also given us some good conversations with Lily, with each other and with God about this world, and why things are the way they are, and how to see things with His heart.
The children in the most heart-breaking states were in a small room together, completely emaciated little stick children with wide knees and large heads. I’ve never seen such starving children, all new to the children’s home and on the brink of death. Even more shocking was to see these little ones stand up and toddle around, or crawl all over the place, when upon first sight you would be confident they were only a few weeks old due to their size.
“Mommy?” Lily asked me. “Those kids are sick, huh. So they have to stay inside?”
“We need to pray for them?” she kept asking.
Two more things I’ll never forgot:
As I was talking to another woman, I was holding Sofie while she was babbling and drooling and grinning. A third woman walked up holding a tiny little baby, maybe 4 or 5 weeks old, with lots of little fuzz and an adorable grin. She was holding “Ruff” the same way I was holding Sofie, side-by-side.
“How old is this cutie?” the woman asked me.
“Five months,” I smiled down at squirmy Sofie.
“Oh,” she said, “I was just wondering where Ruff stood.”
“Why? How old is he?” I asked, grinning back at his adorable face.
“Seven months” she said, and I swear, all I could think was, “You must be lying. That’s just not possible.”
I mean, Ruff was a third of the size of Sofie. ITTY BITTY. And over 2 months older. My mouth went dry and suddenly Sofie seemed huge. And healthy. And as I found out later, surrounding by children who had been exposed to measles. I started worrying about Sofie who hasn’t had her MMR vaccine, and yet here were 60 other little ones living in the midst.
Later, I followed Lily as she went from new toy to new toy, a trail of toddlers following after us and playing on whatever Lily wanted to play on. I took a seat on a bench while Lil and a group of adorable kiddos played on a teeter-totter, but quickly moved my feet, realizing that a huge swarm of fire ants were devouring a few greasy grains of rice someone had dropped off their lunch plate.
A round little boy sitting next to me saw me jerk my feet away, and looked down to see the 14-15 grains of rice and the hundreds of fire ants carrying them away through the dirt.
“UH!” he mumbled quickly and dove off the bench, attracting near-by boys who fled from Lily’s side to my feet, all diving for each small piece of rice, completely ignoring the stinging red ants crawling up their sticky fingers.
“No, no, guys,” I told them quickly. “That rice is SO dirty and look at all these ants!”
But it was too late, and they did not care.
I’ll never, as long as I live, forget seeing those little hands darting out after each little grain, shoving rice and fire ants and dirt alike into their anxious mouths. Their round bellies and dimpled cheeks showed that they were no longer starving. But their actions showed that they had been…and already at such a young age, they know to eat what you find when you can as fast as you can, before someone else does.
Heartbreaking. Lily, clean and round and unknowing of what hunger even is, now standing by my side, watching the whole thing and asking me to explain. Heartbreaking.
As I said Wednesday, there is SO much to do in the world. So much of His love to give and so many people to share it with. I’m thankful that the God who sees each sparrow rise and fall and who clothes each flower is close to these little ones, their loving Father. He knows each inside and out, fearfully and wonderfully made them, and sent His Son for them each. He knows who they are and who He made them to be, He knows what He made them to do.
All I could tell Lily was all I could tell myself.
This world is not for us, is it. We are not here in this world for ourselves. We have been sent for others…Just as He was, and the world is waiting for what we have. Let us be urgent.
Yet again…Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.