My thoughts on Africa

Monday, July 12, 2010

Of all the needs a lonely child has, the one that must be satisfied, if there is going to be hope and a hope of wholeness, is the unshaken need for an unshakable God.
Maya Angelou

Like all mothers I think my children are amazing - both utter geniuses. My daughter in particular is also very inquisitive. There are hardly any new words or situations she encounters where she doesn't ask questions. She likes to know how everything works and what everything means. When she does ask a question it usually becomes the jumping off point of a much longer conversation. How this is all relevant to Africa is that I try to be very open with our kids about why I do the things I do. Whether we are donating clothes to Mission Arlington or particpate in ESL classes for the African community in our church, these lessons make a much larger impression than anything I tell her. I know they did for me. Seeing my mother sew items for children whose mother's didn't have the patience or the resources to make them homemade things or my father put together bicycles for foster children, I learned lessons about compassion by watching them do rather than just hearing them talk. Recently I was changing Gabby's clothes and I put a t-shirt on her that we got from the Porter family who are in the middle of adopting 2 gorgeous children from Ethiopia. Not letting a single detail get past her, Gabby asks me "What does this shirt say?" and I tell her it says "147 Million Orphans" on the front and "Feed One" on the back. Digging deeper she asks "What does ORPHAN mean?" I craft my response in the simplest terms I can, "It means kids that don't have a mommy or daddy". While I do think Gabby is amazing I cannot claim she is any math whiz. She did recognize the word MILLION. Her response, "Are there really THAT many?" And I said yes and asked what she thought about that. In rapid fire succession she spits out, "Well who takes care of them? Who drives them to school? Who fixes their food? Who bakes them cupcakes?" And the list went on to include questions about grandparents, ballet, t-ball practice and doctor's appointments. But what stopped me in the midst of this moment was the pure-hearted question from the mind of a 5 year old "Who makes them cupcakes?" Cupcakes are a big player at our house. I LOVE cupcakes. They really are the perfect dessert. Portable, no forks, knives or spoons necessary, no cutting or dividing required and the ability to make them fancy with decorations or eat them just plain. Gabby shares my adoration for them (coupled with both of our adorations for anything coated in sugar). To her the thought of a child without a cupcake was just as horrible as not having shoes or not seeing a doctor. It pierced my heart. Without a mother or a father a child misses the sense that they are the most special thing that God created. They don't feel the protection of someone putting not only their needs, but their wants ahead of their own. When I shared this story I had several people say it evoked tears. This was not my intention, but a hazard I should have recognized nontheless. It's part of the ugly truth we find too hard to even talk about. That there are children out there alone, waiting, dying. I have so much love and admiration for those who have not only heard the call to adopt, but actually followed through. I have to say the Lord has not tugged mine or Chris' heart toward adopting. But - my heart is broken and I feel I should do what I can to support those who sacrifice so much for orphans. I go into this trip with the hope that in some small way I can be used to love the orphans I will get the chance to meet. And one of the first lessons I have learned in this adventure is that a 5 year old could spark an idea to help make it possible.