Monday, May 21, 2012

On: Living in an orphanage


A few nights ago I sat down to write a blog about living in an orphanage.  I wanted to highlight the challenges, the chaos, the rewards of living with 40+ kids who are not your own.  But the power went out and I lost my writing.  Tonight, with the generator running, I tried to recreate my thoughts.  But all I could think was "It's not about you."

There is a sweet faced little boy.  His sister is a lovable, beautiful girl.  They have lived in orphanages since they were infants.  They know their mom, because she lives around the corner, and stops by several times a week to visit them.

The first time I learned this, it was because the little boy's pitiful, desperate wails were filling the courtyard.  When I asked why, I learned that on that particular visit his mom had been unable to give him a little candy before she left.  If she gives him a little candy, he doesn't cry when she leaves.

A few months after we moved here, this lovely little girl started calling me 'mom.'   The first time it  was shy, a quiet question, "Will you love me?"  I want to protect this girl, and myself, from what I know is coming: eventually, I will leave.  But, what could I say?  "I think its better for both of our mental health if you stick to Madame Jennifer?"  "No, I can't love you that way?"  So she calls me mom. 

How is it it that a girl thinks of someone she has known for a few months as more of a mother than the woman who birthed her?   It would be easy to judge this mom, to place her choice in a box.  Is she selfish?  Uncaring?  Lazy?  Is it poverty?  Under-education?  Sin?

I see this woman each week.  I see her pray and worship.  I see the little things she does to claim her children as her own.  I see the two shirts and two skirts she alternates wearing.  I see the tender way she strokes the boy's head as he sleeps on her lap.

This woman, who is not much older than me, has delivered 11 children into the world.  She has buried six of them.  This little guy and his big sister are her last two.  The two she gave up because she was too broken to care for.  The two she hoped to save. 

So for this season I will love her children.  I will share with her, in what little ways I can, the burdens and joys of motherhood.  I will trust God to care for each of us when its time to say goodbye.  I will seek her friendship and I will not judge her.  I will praise the God who brought us together, and pray that one day I will rejoice with her and these children in heaven.