Last week, I walked out of my apartment to the sound of children yelling. As I made my way down the stairs, they saw me coming and instantly ran over to where I was. They flooded the stairway, making it nearly impossible for me to finish my descent. All of them wanted to get as close to me as they could, and I finally had to sit down on a step so I didn’t fall the rest of the way (I’m really easy to knock over, as it turns out…poor balance and all that).
At dinner that same day, I sat across the table from Hope. She looked up at me with her giant brown eyes and chocolate-smeared cheeks (There is always an abundance of cake. At every meal, it seems like) and asked if I would pick her up. She doesn’t speak very much English, so her version of asking was more of a gesture than anything else. At 3 years old, she already knows exactly how to get what she wants. It’s also helpful that she’s adorable. I had carried her to dinner the night before, and she became instantly obsessed with seeing how high I could lift her into the air. Let’s just say that my arms are going to be incredibly toned by the time she and her family move out.
And then Matthew, also 3, came hobbling over to me in the parking lot later that night, crying because his tiny toes were bleeding. The boy walks barefoot everywhere, so I was more surprised that it hadn’t happened earlier than anything else. I sat him in a chair and cleaned his foot carefully while he told me I was the best doctor. I let him choose a band-aid (We only have one kind, so this was kind of a trick) and he watched me intently as I wrapped it around his injury.
If only I could do more than that.
He will get hurt again, his brave plans will be thwarted, he will fall and be disappointed.
She will want to be picked up and someone will tell her that they don’t have time to stop for her, she will face a crisis through which she’ll need to be carried and she won’t know what to do.
These children–my beautiful, crazy, extraordinary survivors–will run out of steam and energy; they will be told by the world that they won’t reach their dreams, that they won’t accomplish anything, and so they will give up. They will stop yelling and running and instead live subdued ordinary lives.
So today I’m thankful that the responsibility doesn’t fall on my shoulders alone.
Sure, I get them for a little bit, and in that time I will do what is needed to let them know that they’re important and valuable and worth fighting for.
But they will leave. Their families will find a place to call home, and they will be gone. They will move on and move out, and a new group of tiny adventurers will flood the Mission. For the ones that leave, it is crucial to remember that they are in God’s hands. He does a way better job of caring for them than anyone else will ever be able to; His love doesn’t run out. He has incredible plans, and while I wish that I could walk alongside each and every one of them to see what He has in store for their lives, I know that’s not going to happen.
Instead, I’ll continue to pray that they recognize that the small amount of patience and grace that I show them pales in comparison to how loved they are by their Father, and I’ll hold onto the hope that maybe I’ll get to see them again one day.
*names were changed