Saturday, September 29, 2007

sometimes working in a third world country makes me feel like i am emptying the ocean with an eye-dropper. and just when i have about half a cup full of water, it rains: more orphans from the north migrate to where i live, more abandoned and dead babies are found, more people are infected with aids. it is enough to discourage even the most enthusiastic and passionate person. and yet the discouragement lasts only a moment and God tells me to keep going. that He loves me. that he loves these people. that He will never leave or forsake any of us, not one. that my work IS important, to Him.

i spent the day at the wedding of my friend lydia. it was a beautiful celebration not only of our love for one another, but also the love God has for us. at the reception, there was cake and singing and dancing, just like at any american wedding. one thing that wasnt like an american wedding however, was the congregation of street children at the gate, all longing to join the party inside. those who know me know that i am not the kind of person who can sit in a chair if others have to sit on the floor; i immediately felt suffocated inside the gates of the extravagant party. so for most of the reception you could find me outside with the raggedy, dirty street children dancing and laughing and cuddling. most people were slightly appalled that i, a WHITE person especially, was associating with these children, the lowest of the low, the outcasts of society. many of the fancily dressed guest at the wedding even came and told me that i probably shouldnt speak to these awful children, let alone kiss them and let them bury their faces in my hair. "the are from the street!" the people would cry, as if it was some kind of sin, as if the children could help it. we had so much fun though. the children ate up every bit of attention i could give, danced as close to me as they possibly could and lavished me with love. we spun and laughed until we ached and had to collapse in the grass outside of where the reception was taking place. those who had been shy at first (they are not used to adults talking to them, let alone mzungus) ended up snuggled close at my side, petting my hair or kissing my hands. the littlest ones fell asleep in my lap, despite the blaring music from the wedding. those who could speak english wanted to know all about me and thanked me unneccisarily for spending time with them. they were so happy, i cant describe the new light in their eyes after all of our dancing.

its that light.
its that happiness.
its that love.

my darling little friend emily is asleep in my lap and i can feel her heart beating against mine.

its that beat.
its that warmth.
its that love.

its that love that is the reason i just keep filing up my little eye-dropper. keep filling it up and emptying my ocean one drop at a time. im not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, to put a stop to people abandoning babies. im just here to love.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

september 6, 2007

they have finally stopped treating me like the queen of england here at canaan, and decided its ok if i work. i am so so happy. i spent the morning doing laundry with the 5 and 6 year girls, and the saddest part was that of all these little children, i am the worst at doing laundry by hand. i love that here at canaan, everyone is expected to contribute to the family. the children help do the laundry, the dishes, help me cook, and help bathe and dress and take care of one another. everyone has a role. i think this is important, as i now know the wonderful feeling of accomplishment that comes when you have just finished doing the laundry of 100 kids by hand! we all just laughed as my dog decided to roll on our newly washed sheets - oh, banange! (in luganda, an expression of exasperation, but usually used playfully)

did i mention yet that i have a dog? well he wasnt actually originally mine; he was just one of the four dogs living at the home, but the minute i walked through the doors at canaan last week, he began to follow me around and hasn't left my side since. his name is james, and he is an old, gentle as can be, german shepherd, and i don't know why he likes me. the kids can only explain it as "just because". the first time i walked to jinja, he followed me the whole ten miles. he would let only children come near me, but when others came close he stood between us. watching this dog who had no apparent reason to like me so much, no reason to be my friend, i was reminded of my loving Father above. i was reminded that He is walking with me every step of the way and that He is my protector, and though He has no reason to really be my friend, though i am not worthy,He likes me - loves me - anyway. and so my puppy james is my constant comfort. as he follows me around, as i smuggle him close, i remember that i am never alone. i am constantly in the presence of God who is greater than all of africa, a God who loves me, "just because".
september 4, 2007

i cannot go anywhere without being followed by at least 6 orphans, hungry for love. i cannot walk into the gates of my orphanages, or through the local villages without being ambushed by 60 children who all want hugs and kisses. i cannot sit down without having my lap instantly filled. and this life for me is heaven.

i think i fall in love with canaan more each day. yesterday, i taught the kids how to play tic-tac-toe and hang man in the dirt with a stick; we played for hours. every night before dinner we praise God for about an hour. it is my favorite part of the day; we sing and dance and pray and i can't understand at all much of the time, but i can feel God's presence all around me and in these people. last night the power went out right before dinner which can be quite a disaster when you still have 102 children to feed. so we lined them all up in the dark, and by the light of a kerosene lamp, fed them all. then i held precious gideon late into the night until all the little ones feel asleep and the older ones began heading to bed. sitting there in the absolute dark, i marveled at the fact that here i am in africa, holding an orphan, surrounded by the tangible presence of my Lord, living my dreams; i am so very blessed.

this morning i got up and walked back to amani (the other orphanage). its about a two hour, 10 mile walk, but i get a lot of thinking and praying done. :) i bought mandazi (doughnut like things...) for all the toddlers, and when i got home, you would have thought i had been gone for a year instead of 48 hours. i love these little people. even baby josephine started singing when i picked her up; i'll admit, its nice to be missed! after lunch the kids and i walked down to the lake but got caught in the rain (in case you haven't notices, its rainy season). once the kids figured out they were water-proof, however, we had a blast splashing around.

it never stopped storming so i decided to stay at amani for the night, which allowed me to bather the little ones and put them to bed and then rock josephine and sweet baby daniel (our newest addition found in the village - sooo tiny!) to sleep. as i listen to the pitter patter of the rain on my tin roof, i feel right at home. and then i realize how blessed i am to feel that. this is my home, amani baby's home in jinja. canaan children's transit in buziika is my home. the nazareth orphanage in masaka is my home. and back in good old brentwood, with all those i hold so dear, is home. no matter where i am, i am always cradled in God's arms, and there i am home.