Mia was particularly looking forward to helping the disabled children today. When I asked her how her time was she said she was thankful-- thankful for abilities we take for granted like walking and talking and feeding herself. She really enjoyed face painting (see photo above).
Visiting the center for disabled orphans was a new experience for me (Sherri). It was obvious upon entering that the children here were well cared for. The grounds and facilities were clean and well kept. The staff were friendly. But we were there for the children, and that was where the difficulties began. We have visited orphans for the past couple of days, but even with the language barrier, I have been able to find ways to "speak child". I know how to give hugs, let little ones sit on my lap and ask basic questions like, "What's your name?" "How old are you?" and admire their drawings. But these children were different. They were in wheel chairs. They couldn't form words. Many couldn't even hold up their heads or make eye contact. I had no idea what to do. As I wondered how in the world I could possibly bless these little ones, the Lord began to teach me. I simply had to try. So when I was assigned to feed Carlita, I started with the what I knew. I smiled and said "Hola", but there was no response. I was hesitant, but I stood over her chair and started to stroke her hair. She tried to find me with her eyes. The connection began. As I continued running my fingers through her hair, she seemed to try reaching out to me from her chair. I took her hand in my free one. She pulled it close. I continued stroking her hair and smiling. She smiled back. Then I began to softly sing. She continued to smile. A translator came by, "I think she likes you," she said. I thought so too. "Please tell her I like her, too," I asked. I was thrilled. We connected. And she was happy.
The best part was when she made songs of her own. No melody. No words. But a sweet sound somewhat like the purr of a kitten. And before too long, it was time to eat (which is another story). I still feel thankful remembering my time with Carlita. I have no idea what it is to live life as she does. But I saw God use me to bring Carlita some joy and in turn, I received joy back. And I also learned that all I need to do is try. Just as God empowered me to meet Carlita where she is. He is always willing to meet us where we are. Sometimes we think we need to do something or say something "right" in order to meet with God, but He's already with us, and willing to meet us right in the middle of our limitations and everyday life. Carlita may not remember me, but I will never forget her or the blessing she is just by being herself.
Michael: Although I wasn't sure about my expectations as we drove to the home for disabled orphans today, I don't think I was prepared for what I did see. I wasn't prepared for just "how disabled" these children were. Most were in wheel chairs and many seemed to be oblivious to the world around them. I was at a loss as to how to connect with them on any level as their verbal communication abilities were minimal at best. I tried different ways to speak with them with little to no response in return. Feeling lost and a bit discouraged I prayed that the Lord would show me how to have some impact on this child's life, if but for a brief moment. I then wandered to the craft table, grabbed some stickers and attempted to show one child, who was alone in a corner, how to place them onto a sheet paper. The young boy quickly made eye contact with me and gestured, in his own distinctive way that he liked the activity and wanted to do it again...and again...and again. I was eager to oblige as God had shown me a way to make a connection with him. As satisfying as this was, I was also struck by how limited our "connection" had to be, at least in that moment. I was filled with deep appreciation that my own two daughters are of such able body and mind. So thankful.