Sunday, February 17, 2013

Day 4: Lazare's Orphanage(sorry it's late- internet went weird last night when I tried.

Let me preface this by saying that each time I go to this place, I am blessed by it, so you may see this one come up a few times, however, each time I'll hone in on what blessed me THAT day...

Today I struggled to wake up- this hasn't happened in some time, so that frustrated me, putting me in a hurry to get ready to go to Lazare's this morning.

Now, let me explain in a very small nutshell what Lazare's is... it's an orphange/care center. Some of the parents have parents who simply can't take care of them, some abandoned for various reasons, and some have lost their parents. About 1/2 of these sweet ones have HIV and their ages range from about 2 months(that's one of the caretaker's babies though) to 13. This has become my heart and home in Guinea.

So, I got up and got ready quickly, and we were off- doing my usual call to Ansuman- our incredible translator and someone who is quickly becoming a friend of mine- to be sure he'll be waiting at the gas station near his home for us to get him to take him along in our land rover.

We arrived and today I was the one who got to knock. I knocked on this huge metal gate and it just echoes... it's kinda fun:) The door pulled open by one of the workers and to see the smiles on those children's faces as I walked in... how can that NOT bless you? They rush you with hugs and joy- especially those who they know(I've gone at least 2 times each month since we've gotten here and most recently weekly- it's become my hi-light of the week).

This time I came on in, my little man- Moise, who has become very attached to me, found me within a minute. I worry for his attachment to me sometimes, so I've begun to pull myself away from me. He knows he has a safe and comfortable place to sleep and feel safe and loved with me, but I also want him playing and learning while we're there. When he's only with me, he is grumpy Gus, but when he's playing his little face shines- it lights up and just shines and shines. After a bit, I separated myself from him and went to the kitchen to help cook- it's become something I love to do, as I love cooking but more-so I want to love on these caretakers who are so easily forgotten. Then was our usual story then play time.

Now, I have weeks I come home from Lazare's with energy and excitement, and times I come home with my heart in shreds trying to understand how if God loved his children so much, these children were in such bad shape. Today... I left wondering what God's got planned for me. One of the aunties looked at me and said 'you're trying to learn it all.. you're becoming African..' And I can't help but think that there's a reason I feel this sudden urge to learn Susu, french, how to cook, how to tie babies to my back. It could be that it's because i"m leaving soon, or it could be because I may very well be back in Africa in the future. The ship- maybe, maybe not, but Africa- definitely.

The greatest of all of my blessings today was seeing those children. When we came, so many were just in such bad shape- many new to the center. No life in their eyes, no smiles, no interaction, some would just lay there, or cry all of the time with no consolation. Week by week, I've seen little sparks ignite in some of these sweet babies. It's beautiful.

Me and Joseph the week we found he had gained weight!!!
Joseph is older than he looks and until very recently could not sit up on his own. A few weeks ago, I held him and massaged his back as he layed on his tummy.... now... that's when I realized something was wrong. Turns out little man has scoliosis. He has a full mouth full of teeth, but can't sit up, or walk, and hardly had any life in him. When I first held him I thought he was a 6 month old at the most- so light, bumps all over his skin, feverish- a wreck. A few weeks ago, there was a sudden change. I picked him up and he was heavy .... like... HEAVY.... and I rejoiced- nearly in tears for his gaining weight! Then I realized he was interacting more... last week he started shaking his head super fast, I got a smile and a laugh, I got him interacting with me... something that NEVER could've happened a few weeks ago... I nearly bursted into tears.... The ship has agreed to do PT on him to help with his scoliosis so he can grow up mostly normal and boy has it changed him!!! My friend came to me before we left today saying 'Joseph can sit up on his own.' I JUMPED for joy!!! :)

Then there's sweet Esther. I don't know her whole story but a few weeks ago she got VERY sick with an infection that was wreaking havoc on her skin and eating away at it.... she used to be a clingy and protective child, but when she got sick she was even more so.... clearly in pain all of the time and only wanted attention from very few- agony was written all over her face. Today, I saw her carrying a wagon full of toys behind her as she walked and smiled..... and of course, I couldn't help but get this HUGE smile on my face and tell everyone about it....

These are the moments I know God has brought us here not just for a fun missions trip- but for a reason- to further his Kingdom- to love those who have been forgotten.

Earlier I put my little man Moise down for his nap and I heard crying and crying and crying. Went to find out what was going on and one of the little ones- maybe 2 years old- was in the middle of the floor just crying. She saw me and ran straight for me and jumped into my arms. I still couldn't get her to stop making sounds of fear.... so I sang to her.... I realized she felt like nobody could hear her- can you imagine at 2 years old how that must feel.

Now, let me make something VERY clear. The Aunties at Lazare's are INCREDIBLE women of God who are doing their best to make this place run smoothly. But, think about this- maybe 8 total aunties to 27 children... do that math.... most of the kids under age 3... Pray for them please... they need help- they especially need men to come and be role models for these boys(our oldest kids are all boys) and show them love despite the clear rejection they've had by their own families. Pray for the aunties to have energy and for more to come their way to help out in any possible way. Also, pray for sweet Mariatu- a 2 year old who badly broke her leg and almost lost it due to lack of medical care available  thankfully someone was willin to help her and save her leg, but pray that the healing would go quickly- she's in a full cast(up to her ribs) and can't sit up or move much- pray that the healing would come quickly and with little issue. Thank GOD he used the right people and we were able to save her leg!!!! 

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