Friday, August 3, 2012

Note to Self

Note to Self - 
After a day in the field, 
perhaps it is not wise to check Facebook. 

Recently, we were out for the day visiting several orphanages. It was a wonderful day, but I’m still wrestling through seeing the “needs” up close. After leaving one home where six boys sleep outside because there is not enough room inside, we came to this home.  These photos are the beds for the children. Most sleep two to a bed. There were fitted sheets on a few beds, but none of the beds had a top sheet. Cardboard pillows and raw foam hold the children at night while they sleep. Most of the mattresses are do not even fit the beds...

At this home, there is no indoor bathroom for the kids.  The children bathe outside and walk to a tiny concrete structure to "do their business." 

One of the boys at the home lifted his shirt while we were there. My eyes did a double-take to be sure I was seeing what I thought. I still feel a bit nauseous seeing this sweet boy's stomach. Evidently, he has a hernia. My heart hurt for him. Even if this does not need medical attention, over time this could make him very self-conscious. My heart hurt. (Did I already say that?  Well, it hurt x 2!  At least!)  I wanted to "do" something to help little S.

I also realized when we were with the boys today that one of them was wearing an Old Navy July 4th shirt from 2001. 2001! You know, the shirts with the American flag on the front? This child was wearing a faded shirt that was 11 years old! The shirt was older than the boy wearing it.  I wonder who has worn it previously...  Usually, most of the children in this home are in the same clothes each time we come, but today I noticed the date. None of the children seem to mind or even care about having a new piece of clothing. They are very content with what they have. Even if it has been worn for eleven years.

Seeing the age on the shirt made me a bit shameful of how quickly I used to dispose of my clothing for the newest trend. Is anything in my closet 11 years old? I doubt it.  (Actually, I think I might have clothing this old if left to my own fashion knowledge, but I have five boys who let me know when I look like I am wearing pajamas to church instead of a two piece pants suit.  Really happened!  Parted with the outfit that day!)

My time at the orphanage ended with me pantomiming and hand-writing instructions for a craft to an older teenage boy, J.  Although we have been to this home numerous times since arriving, today was the first day I learned J is unable to hear.  Every time we have come, he has remained hidden on his bottom bunk bed away from us.  Oh, my heart hurt.  Until today, I never understood this deaf boy could not understand us!  Because he lives in a silent world, he chooses to withdraw from the life lived around him.  He's never come out of his room to interact with us until today. After I made some large hand gestures, did lots of pointing, gave a warm smile and finally made eye-contact, J was finally willing to join us.  I guided him over to the wooden chair we were using for a table and watched the smile cover his face.  He was so excited to be making something with his own name on it.

As we were leaving, J came up to me, held my hand and said, "T-hhhh--aaaa--nk Y----o--u."  The awkward deep sound of his voice was beautiful to my ears.

Upon arriving home, I looked on Facebook to see the latest postings from my friends. I realized quickly how removed I am becoming from American culture. I don't think I am changing per say, but my perspective is drastically different now.  My mind is shifting into attempting to understand this culture while my mind has been shaped by the culture I have always lived in.  My "old" culture is what is reflected on Facebook, rarely this new one.

Because of my heavy heart, I responded to a few posts perhaps too boldly. Please understand, I spoke from from the day I'd just experienced, and I pray my honesty did not offend.  I think I want to cry out to people, "Please do something to help these kids, because, at times, I feel soooo helpless!"

Here were my Facebook conversations with friends at the end of the day - 


I spent some time today looking at your pictures....all I can say is "WOW"!!!! I was so amazed at the beautiful pictures of all that your family and friends are doing....I found myself wishing I could ask you a million questions about all of the kids and their stories and how they are, etc. etc, etc....I read every caption that you included...I loved it !!! In what way can we help from here? I would love to do anything that I can...Praying for you and your family....

Then, I responded...

Sweet Friend - thank you for your prayers! I am so grateful. Thank you!! As I read your post, please know that if we are doing anything of value here, it is Jesus doing it alone. We are saddened daily by the things we see, smell, hear.
Prayer is the strongest weapon against some of the strongholds here. Please pray. You can contact Feeding the Orphans and consider sponsoring a child through them or helping support one the upcoming projects. And, friend, I'm going to be bold to say this, but because you asked, I am going to answer. You can pray about the possibility of adoption. These children are so starved for attention, love, and security. At the homes where we go, the children are loved...but there are so many. In most, two to a bed. Squished together...if they have sheets, and most do not, there is not a top sheet. While there are tangible material things these children need, what they need more than anything else is to have an understanding of love so they can understand Jesus who would come and die for them. I apologize, but tonight I am heavy hearted. There are many ways to help and I've listed a few. Please continue to pray fervently for these kids. They need someone fighting in the spiritual realm for them. Thank you so much!!

After responding to the posting above, I read this Facebook post -

Anyone else overwhelmed w all there is to purchase at this time of year... Clothes, shoes, books, school supplies, .... Oh my.

(Along with about 18 "likes," the post also had 17 or so comments concurring that - YES, it is overwhelming. I thought I'd chime in too...)

I typed,

Actually...not overwhelmed at all about this now. Overwhelmed by other things though...

I was planning to leave it at that, but my friend was online and she wrote back,

I bet robin.. A whole new world ... R u homeschooling yet?

Before I responded, I remembered this image...  Oh dear, here we go...

Then I wrote back,

Nope. Thinking our boys will attend Faith Roots Academy. Concrete building with no electricity except in the office. Open windows - no air. They will be learning so much more than what is in the books as they will be the only Caucasian children in the school unless one other American family enrolls. Now we have to drive at least an hour to find a store that sells pencils and paper so we will learn to make do with much everyone else here. We went on a field trip with some children from the school and one of the boys was taking notes in a calendar from 2004. Most children didn't have any paper. Or anything to write with. I'm learning so much. Realizing I never thought about the rest of the world enough. Heart is breaking daily, but I'm trying to love the one in front of me. Whoever it is. Miss you and everyone tons! Give your family my love.

And, I mean it. Please give your family my love because I do love you. I responded to these two posts from things I am really wrestling with. I am not "judging" anyone or being "critical." I am simply wrestling with God through the realization that I never thought about what was happening much outside of my own little world. And now it is hitting me in the face. Hard. I am looking in my closet to see what I can give away even though I'd already parted with many clothes before leaving Knoxville.  I've already given one woman one of my shirts here... and some plates... and a bag...etc... I have too much. Too much.

I read what is happening in America and I KNOW if I were there I would be doing the same things. Please know, there is NO judgement here. I'm just trying to make sense of it. And, it doesn't make sense. There's the Rich and the Poor. The Haves and the Have-Nots. The Blessed and the Forgotten.

Now that we live here, our family is the Rich, the Haves, the Blessed. I feel guilty coming home to the house we live in. And I don't know how to make it okay.  In reality, we were the Rich while we lived in America - but I never chose to see it that way.  My perspective wasn't there.

Is it wrong for me to ask a family to pray about adoption? Is it wrong to honestly reveal what life is like here? Is it wrong for me to share what I'm experiencing as I see the contrast to the life I lived before?

One of my dearest friends confessed that now she can only "skim" the blog because she can't handle the feelings that come with some of the things I share. I am so sorry.  This makes me so sad, because that is NOT the purpose of writing what I'm sharing.  Believe me, I am not trying to impose "guilt" on anyone!  I guess in my own uncomfortableness, I want others to be there with me... Not really, but...kinda.

But it's very hard to "get it" without being here...for a long time.

Some say I am a bit too compassionate. Maybe I am. I feel too deeply for others. I've always been this way. Perhaps I see the world through naive lenses thinking everything should be "fairly distributed" so that everyone has something. Is that wrong? I think I'm trying to share the REALITY of life here so that others will be more aware. I certainly wish I had been. Even with trips over numerous times, it was too easy to forget and get comfortable once I was back home.  I'd think about things...sometimes...but the needs didn't stay in front of me.  Now, I don't ever want to become desensitized to these things.

Ugh!   I think I'll be sharing lots of my "wrestling" here, so if it's too uncomfortable then, well, you may want to check back in a year or so. Maybe by that time, I'll have some clarity about all this?? 

It's my own heart He is revealing.  And shaping.

I am thankful for Feeding the Orphans and the O'Leary family. They understood the need here and they were obedient to help. They still are. When they heard about the bed situation, FTO said they would help. They want to help provide new mattresses for this home. Won't it be wonderful for these kids to sleep on mattresses that fit the beds?  You will be hearing more about this from Feeding the Orphans, or you can contact them to offer to buy a mattress. They are not expensive.

Kristie O'Leary had also already looked into S's hernia last year, and offered assurance doctors say it is not medically threatening. School supplies and clothing are sent with volunteers and families. So, please know...God is hearing the cries and HE is responding.  I'm thankful to see it.

Thanks for reading my mishmash of thoughts.

Finally, if you are one of my friends on Facebook and you receive a comment from me that says something uncomfortable, please know that I was probably out with the poor in Ghana for the day.  I never mean to offend.

When I finish this post, I'm taping my "Note to Self" on the computer.  :-)

Braden, our 8 year old, just came in.  Today we Skyped with cousins and he received a personal email from one of his closest friends.  He's had a hard time since then.  He's even said for the first time, "I want to go home."

Just now, in tears, he said, "When we came for 2 weeks, it didn't seem that far away, but now I really feel how far away we really are."

Seeing more needs up close...gotta go...I have a son who needs the love of his momma.

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich."
2 Corinthians 8:9

"Listen, my beloved brethren; did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" 
James 2:5


Missy said...

Hello! My husband and I are just finishing up our home study in hopes to one day (soon!) complete a Ghanaian adoption. Your post completely breaks my heart, in a way that it probably needs to be broken. Thanks for your candid comments and I hope you won't mind if I stop by again from time to time.

cdagler said...

Oh Robin! Is there really such a thing as being too compassionate?! I already have had people I know comment that they don't have extra money to help. I try not to offend them, but I want so badly for them to realize how rich we really are! Praying for your family! Love you!

cdagler said...

Oh Robin! Is there really such a thing as being too compassionate?! I have had people tell me that they don't have any extra money to give. I try not to offend, but want them to understand how rich we really are in this country! Praying for your family! Love you!