These are good kids. They have incredible hearts. They are made in the image of GOD. Some aren't officially orphans but their parents are either too poor or too hurt themselves to provide a home for them. Others do not have parents and are at the orphanage with their siblings; others seem all alone in the world but for the love of those caring for them.
Since we've been back from our trip around Ecuador, we have learned more about the orphanage each day than in all our previous time there. Nothing we have learned has been encouraging. There were 10 more kids sent to the orphanage during our 3 week absence, raising the current total to around 95 kids. Their funds have been cut and the welfare of the children depends on an unorganized structure caught in constant political and religious battles that often seem to respond to the kids as burdens instead of blessings.
We've heard stories of kids who run away into town and come back hungry, drugged, or hurt having realized after brief experience on the streets of Montanita that their life at the orphanage was at least better than their chances there. They sometimes return only to be rejected - there are too many kids to take care of already for the orphanage to deal with kids who choose to run off. Children on the streets of Ecuador have little hope of escaping the prostitution and drug rings that enslave so many around of the helpless around the world. Kids come and go from the orphanage without clear records of what happened, and the rumors are nightmares.
Some days we can go to the Orphanage and leave feeling inspired, thankful for the opportunity to be with the kids and see their smiles...patting ourselves on the back for doing very little. I could, and will, write many stories of the incredible love and blessing this place is. However, there are also times when the hopelessness of their situation is blinding. There are days when everyone seems down, we arrive and some of the more persistent and bold of the children ask us why we won't adopt them and take them home if we have no other children. This is a constant routine for some. They are not playing a game, they are serious; it's a literal matter of survival for some. We can't explain why we can't take them with us....we don't know.
Last night as I stayed up writing this I couldn't get one little boy in particular out of my mind. He's 8 years old, but looks closer to 4 or 5. He ran for his hug from me and firmly shook Geoff's hand when we arrived. He had a new cough developing and didn't appear to feel very good as he sat quietly beside us, playing with a small abandoned shoe. His name is Jonathan, which means God has given. What has GOD given him? Not a mother to rock him when he is sick. Not clothes that fit, or shoes without holes. Not friends who won't beat up on him because he's smaller than they are. Where is GOD for Jonathan? Is he in me? A white gringo who has spends minimal time with him and can't even speak enough of his language to really get to know him? Is it in Fatima - the incredible woman who loves and cares for the majority of the children, almost single handedly? She is directly responsible for 55 of the children, 24/7, all of whom have incredible needs for love and affection. GOD surely multiplies her efforts - even loving me through her - but this is not HIS original design.
There are times to rejoice in the provision of our gracious GOD who has promised us Salvation from this broken world. There are also times to grieve the sin, hurt, and pain that exist. When we do not grieve it is often because we don't want to accept the reality of such pain. Without acknowledgement of this reality, it is much easier for us to live our lives first for ourseles, to pay others to make a difference for us, and to keep a safe distance from building relationships with those whose brokeness would cause us uncomfortable grief. I prefer it this way. However, yesterday, and still today, my heart is broken for children around the world who don't have eyes to look into of one who adores them more than anything on earth. Right now there are children who are suffering through their last day on this earth before they die of starvation, malnutrition, or disease tonight. We prefer the stories of redemption and hope but there are painfully true stories as well that are not helped by being ignored. There are children who feel all alone in the world because they are. Has GOD abandoned them? I don't think so. These are the results of living in a fallen world yet we are still shocked by the effects of sin as though we didn't really believe it could hurt the innocent. This is the reason my Saviour Jesus came to this earth, not only to die, but to live and teach us how to live so that we could bring HIS Love to these otherwise dark realities. There are dozens of verses in scripture that defend the "fatherless" and the orphan. I know my heart hurts because my Father's heart hurts as well. I ran across this quote on a blog that I follow:
"Sometimes I would like to ask GOD why HE allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world, when HE could do somehing about it...but I'm afraid HE might ask me the same question." - Anonymous
There are incredible stories of hope, miracles, and love that I could write about. I could focus on the amazing work that the orphange does, and focus only on what an incredible blessing it is that there are places for the orphan to go. There are also sad realities that don't need to be ignored in favor of the more inspiring, hopeful perspectives. There are realities of despair and hurt and these are on my mind today as I intercede through prayer and petition, feeling helpless to make any difference in a world that has, by comparison, offered me everything. May HIS power be made PERFECT in our weakness and selfishness as we seek to bring HIS Kingdom of LOVE into this hurting world. May all of us find the courage and strength to respond to HIS call to be the LOVE and Presence of JESUS through direct relationship with God and the broken. HIS Grace is sufficient; HIS Love is perfect.
Check out this post from a blog I follow of a family of 11 (4 biological children and 5 adopted) who are serving in Guatamala working at a home for special needs children. Their's is one of the most inspiring stories of radical living for JESUS that I have seen in a while. This is one post that helped put the plight of the orphan in a different perspective than I had looked at it before: My Adoption Story
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
-James 1:27 (NIV)