Thursday, August 7, 2014

To Be Hopeful For The Hopeless

This morning we received a new child at Casa de Fe. She is eight days old. I don't fully know her story, but I understand from our psychologist that she has been abandoned and a judge has requested that she be placed in our care. Upon her arrival from the hospital, she was placed in my arms.

And oh, my heart. 

I held her as they completed the paperwork in the office for her stay here. I helped the tias prepare her first bath. I watched from closeby as they dried her off, then dressed her in the outfit I'd picked out for her to wear. I walked around  the house with her, introducing her to the staff and the kids. I answered questions from the little kids about why she was sleeping during the day, why she was so small, what she was going to eat, and why her fingernails were so short. I held her tiny fingers between mine as she ate. 

She came without a name. 

I was informed that, despite consideration otherwise, because 'Charito' is not a name from the Bible, it will likely not be passed on. I'm quite alright with that news - that's a lot of pressure! I was also informed that I will not be able to take her home until I fix the issue of my "unfortunate lack of husband". So... y'know... I'm trying not to get terribly attached. 

But oh, my heart. 

A few weeks ago, I was in the hospital caring for a child we expected to die. I have never seen anyone, much less a child, so sick and in so much pain. There were a number of times during that week that she almost passed. That experience is still pretty raw as never before had I watched or smelled death's approach. I almost held it in my arms. 

And now my arms are holding brand-new life. There might be something to be said here about the Circle of Life or something, but right now I'm wrestling through the hope I want to have for this little girl whose life is already off to a rough start. As I give my heart to the kids in this place, I am grieved that they bear the consequences of brokenness in their families and communities... in their new life and even in death. There really are no words. 

This morning when I was watching the tias bathe our newest arrival, one of the middle-aged girls came and leaned in close. She marvelled at how she smelled and at just how tiny and new she looked. She twirled the baby's few hairs with her fingers and sang softly. This is a girl who, at just eight years old, has hardened much of her heart towards people and the love they want to show her. So her wonder and simple gestures of love in response to this baby were touching to witness. She asked, to no one in particular, where her mom was and before I could respond, one of the tias told her that the baby's mom had left her. I watched as this sunk in and her eyes filled with tears. "Pobrecita," she whispered as the tears fell. 

My heart broke. We sat and cried in the pain and brokenness of it all. 

And yet, I saw some semblance of hope in that moment as I watched this girl respond to the tragedy of this baby's story by sharing the pain. When older children are brought here, I think we all experience some level of sorrow for their situation, but when a child so tiny and helpless comes, there is a different sadness that we all share on their behalf. 

I pray that God keeps all of our hearts soft towards these precious kids and that he can make their hearts tender towards each other and towards us. It is in the sharing of our pain and deepest places of brokenness that we find the deepest connection and can be reminded to hold on to hope that Jesus is in those places... he is offering healing to our breaking, bleeding hearts.... to our fractured stories... binding them together in love, to each other and to him. 

I am hopeful. 


Working at an orphanage is hard.

As this place becomes more tangled into my life, I feel the joys and sorrows here more deeply than ever. Most experiences are bittersweet and I think appropriately so. I celebrate when kids are able to return to families that desire to love and care for them; there is also an aspect of grief as little ones I’ve watched grow up over the years will no longer be part of my life and I of theirs. My heart wells to the brim when I hear cries of “Charito!!” every morning, trying not to trip over little people scrambling to wrap their arms around me and kiss my legs; my heart also breaks as I wish no child had to live here, separated from the families they need and deserve. I can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world and most days I am grateful that God has invited me to be here, but I also grieve that the world is broken in such a way that I am needed here.

It’s an ever-going struggle to find balance in the sadness and joy, in the brokenness and the hope.

These past few months have wrecked my life. I think I feel that every time I’m here, so I won’t pretend this could be the last time, but really, these past few months have wrecked my life. Someday I might have words to articulate all that has happened and how God is making things new, but right now I’m just sitting with Jesus in the midst of a lot of raw emotion and only half-processed experiences.

All I can do is share stories as I am able, holding on to hope.