Monday evening, we had reports from the team who had been to an orphanage in the area of Thagami. They said the children were very malnourished; one baby (who they had just discovered was HIV+) had died last week. Because of this, they had to test all the other children in the orphanage, including the HIV+ baby’s sister, Christine. We have since learned that none of the other children are HIV+, thankfully.
Wednesday I got to visit the third orphanage in as many days. The things I had heard about Thagami were true. The children were malnourished and the orphanage was dirty, but the kids had such joy.
I cannot tell you how fulfilled I feel when I am surrounded by kids who need love and affection. It’s as if every other thing I’ve done is just silliness and all the terrible things I’ve experienced and thought were the end of the world were really no big deal. I don’t care about anything else but being there. It’s when I feel closest to God, most comfortable with who I have been created to be, and most at ease with the struggles I have had.
One of those moments of peace that passes understanding was holding sweet Christine. She was back from the hospital, and I got to spend several hours loving her, feeding her, and praying for her.
She is somewhere between 3 and 9 months old (we have heard conflicting reports) and weighs about 7 pounds. The newborn onesie she wore beneath her dress was baggy. She was very, very sick when she was taken to the hospital. When she and her twin sister were dropped at the orphanage, they could fit in the palm of a hand. Tiny, sick, orphaned baby girls.
This is where she sleeps every night.
Around noon my team was heading out to lunch at the same time the woman who worked at Thagami brought me Christine’s lunch. Her bottle was a plastic medicine syringe. I told the team to go to lunch without me; I would stay back and feed the baby. For about 45 minutes, I fed Christine formula out of the syringe and rocked her back and forth and patted her back. The woman working in the orphanage (pictured below) walked up to me and said, “you are a very tender mother.”
Those words were so sweet and such a blessing to my heart. She knew nothing about my struggles with infertility, my plans to foster, and my heart for orphans. But in that moment, her gentle encouragement was everything I needed to hear. I will never forget her and those words.
So I held Christine a little closer and prayed a little harder, because it was God’s plan for the pain I’ve experienced in trying to become a mother to affect that very moment and change my heart.
As I have been trying to prepare for being a foster parent, I’ve been praying that I’d have an open hand when it comes to the children in my life. I will do what I can to care for them in the time God has placed them in my life, but I know that holding on tightly, possesively to them and thinking of them as “my children” is dangerous for my heart. So my prayer for an open hand is my prayer that I will understand that God places children in my life for a short period of time (for whatever reason they are to be placed there), and I will be able to return them to life outside of me. I have comfort in knowing that God’s plan for Christine is just as grand and wonderful as His plan for me and anyone else.
Toward the end of the day, I was still holding the baby and thinking about how God is using my pain for His perfect plan, the children began singing “Glory to God.” The lyrics to the chorus say, “take my life and let it be all for Him and for His glory.” Hearing the children sing those words as I thought about the things that were hard for me to bear, and realizing that those children who have been abandoned by their parents, have no home, and no hope for a normal life, are singing the same words, to the same God, with such happiness, was so inspiring and encouraging.