Five months ago I stepped off the plane and started this adventure God called me to. So much has happened in those 5 months, so many things I’ve learned and so many I have yet to learn. There are times when I don’t realize I’m in Africa, when it doesn’t click that I’m living in a third world country. I have electricity, running water, and internet. I can watch movies, talk to my family, message friends. I am so blessed by the amenities God allowed me to have when He called me here.
These past five months haven’t been easy, but they have been joyful. God is changing my heart, yet it still has so much farther to go. There have been times of pure joy and times of sorrow. Yet God has been in it all, guiding me, comforting me, loving me.
When I first got off the plane I thought I was coming here to help with the administrative and fundraising things in the office. I figured I’d done all that in the past, so it wouldn’t be hard to figure out my job. What I didn’t realize was my job wasn’t just admin and fundraising things, in fact those are probably the least important parts of my job (yet funding is very important). My “job” is to love these children and to show Christ’s love to them.
Many of you know that I get overwhelmed by large groups of children. I’ve not been around them much other than when I taught ice skating years ago. So, I never really knew what to do with them. Yet God called me to work with orphans. He broke my heart for the plight of orphans in Africa and made me want to help them. He is still breaking my heart for them. Today I sat in playgroup and had about 6-7 children all hanging on me in some way. It is a blessing to be able to love these children. That sense of being overwhelmed is going away as fall more and more in love with these children everyday.
God continues to break my heart over and over. When we lost the three children last month, I was heartbroken. I wasn’t sure how to reconcile it in my mind. It’s hard to understand why God would take a child so young. Yet He’s constantly reminded me since then that He has a reason, even if I don’t know what it is. And those three children are far better off in heaven than they would be here. I’m just glad that while they were here on earth, they got to experience love through the love shown by the staff and volunteers at Beautiful Gate.
The most joyous times here at Beautiful Gate are often when parents meet their children for the first time. It is so beautiful for see this. The children often have many different reactions. Some are excited (usually the older ones who understand), some are shy, and some are afraid. Yet when the families come back after the 2 week bonding period, the children are always happy with their new family. I love seeing these adoptions and knowing that God has adopted me into His family. Adoption is a beautiful thing.
When things like last night happen I’m not sure I even know how to react. I don’t know if I even realize what I’m seeing or comprehend everything. I was just reading the blog posts of a couple of my fellow volunteers and they saw things I didn’t. Reading their posts opens my eyes to more things and also helps me process what is going on. The hearts of my fellow volunteers are beautiful. They are broken for these children. I am so blessed by them.
The staff here are completely amazing. Yesterday we got a call from the Ministry of Social Development saying they were closing two orphanages and they asked if we could take 9 children. We had a management team meeting to discuss it and during that meeting we found out it was actually 12 children who needed a home. Our total would be 71 children, a lot more than where we are comfortable. So the management team decided we should talk to the housemothers to see what they think since having so many children would affect them more than anyone else. During the meeting it was never a question of should we take the children it was how do we handle this. How do we accommodate that many children and still give quality care. A solution was made and the children came.
When the children arrived at 10 pm, they were welcomed with open arms and hearts. Even though this would bring more work, the housemothers already loved these children as their own. I love the staff here. They have such beautiful hearts. They really believe in what we are doing here. They want all children to be well cared for.
Throughout my time here I’ve seen many good things – new families formed, love shown to these children, and bad things – an orphanage who didn’t take care for their children, extremely malnourished children. Yet I realize God is here in this place and He is working. He is changing my heart. Smiles from a child brighten my day. Laughs go straight to my heart. I love hugs from little children and will happily sit in play group with three children sitting on my lap and a fourth playing with my hair. I will hold a child when he is upset even though he has wet his pants. I am here to love these children, yet I am the one who is loved and oh so blessed. They are blessing me with each smile, laugh, and hug.
So, I ask you to pray with me that the Lord will continue to break my heart for what breaks His as my stay here continues. I thank you all for taking this journey with me.