I am tired, it was a full day, and I have so many thoughts swirling. I can’t seem to grab one and wrestle it down to coherence and complete sentences.
Two things, though, before I crash to sleep tonight….
First: Faith can move mountains. And sometimes that most holy mountain-moving faith looks like spending your life on making that mountain move, rock by rock, pebble by pebble, unsexy day after daily day.
I think that mountains move by faith, absolutely, sometimes even instantly, and I also think that radical faithfulness to making space for God and restoring the world to God’s beautiful dream for humanity is a statement of faith.
I met a mountain mover today.
Just a couple of years ago, there were 14 orphans living in tents on this property. There was no clean water, no food, no school, but there was safety. Pastor and his wife, Madame, with their own two babies, took in all of these children to keep them safe from the streets, even if they could not provide for them. Every night, he slept outside in the tents, in that insufferable heat, instead of his own bed. He thinks a shepherd should be with his flock. Americans, Canadians, NGOs, all of them, they would come to visit, they would make him promises, and then they would leave, and nothing would change, and still he stayed faithful to these little ones.
When the earth shook in Haiti, Pastor Gaetan lost his brother, and many members of their congregation. 16 more orphans arrived on their doorstep. Thirty-two sad-eyed babies, and only Pastor and his small family there with them. But what was there to do, he said, but open the doors? It took the entire day, every day, to find water, food was an every-other-day-perhaps luxury, and they grieved and survived and worked and dreamed and worshipped and kept body and soul together, somehow, I don’t know how really.
Chris and the rest of Help One Now decided to partner with Pastor Gaetan in 2010, and today, just two short years later, I stood in their home – yes, home – and I saw the beds where the children sleep, and I saw the bare classrooms where they receive an education, and I saw the well of clean water, and I saw beautiful, healthy, happy children.
Thanks be to God who moves mountains. And thanks be to God for men and women who pick up the stones, one after another, until the mountain moves.
And now second: My eldest daughter, Anne, is an artist. (You remember how she did an art show to raise money for a children’s home in Mexico?) She makes things for me, and my house is filled with her creations, she uses her art (and her clothes!) to express herself. She’s always got an art project on the go, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to hide the Scotch tape like other women have to hide chocolate (okay, so I hide chocolate, too). and now she leaves me notes in her childish hand, and these are my treasures.
I met a little girl, 13 years old today, at an orphanage. Manita wrapped her arms around me, and she would not leave my side, somehow we connected beautifully, and I kissed her hair, and she kissed my arms, and I began to hum, it’s hard not to hum and sway when you hold a child wanting a bit of love, isn’t it?
When it was time to leave, I cupped her face in my hands, and prayed the Shema over her life, and she gave me pieces of notebook paper, covered with hearts, in her lovely cursive writing, a gift. This lovely Haitian orphan girl gave me the same gifts my little artist Canadian girl gives me: I’ll tuck these notes into the same box when I get home.
Amongst all of the hearts and curlicues and flowers and French, four words: I’m loved child.
Yes, darling girl, you are a loved child.
This is the gift of sponsorship. This girl is at-risk and vulnerable here, but she is safe, she has a shepherd, she has school, she has clean water, she has a bed. It’s not perfect and I have some pretty big thoughts about the often over-looked aspect of orphan care that is employment, education, healthcare, attachment issues, and systemic injustice (Big! Feelings! Big! Thoughts!), but today, in this situation that simply is what it is, in an imperfect world, we can love these right-now kids, right from our right-now homes, through Pastor Gaetan and Madame’s right-now hands and feet.
Orphan care is a mountain. This is true. (Kristen wrote so transparently about this tension I was also feeling about our time at the orphanage today.) But we can start to move some mountains for these precious orphans.
The orphan crisis is gigantic – 440,000 in Haiti alone, according to Unicef – and complex and right now, we either make excuses, or we make mountains move, one stone at a time, one after another after another, in the faith that looks a lot like faithfulness, and look, look, look at what God can do with that.
You can sponsor a child at Yahve Shamma orphanage right now. (Yes, you can even sponsor sweet Manita.) They are real kids, nd this is a small, personal project – I know them now. Your Christmas card will be tucked under a pillow here.
Or you can hold a garage sale for orphans with your friends or church or community. The idea is pretty simple (and incredible):
- Sell stuff in a garage sale.
- Give the money you raise to a specific project with Help One Now like adding to the school at Yahve Shamma (in addition to orphanage, they also run the neighbourhood school for more than 150 kids…yeah. Seriously.)
- Help orphans as a community.