More and more with every visit, I fall in love the kids in our orphanage here. As I am now preparing to head out for about 4 weeks for a pastor’s conference and a trip to South Sudan with Heart of God Africa, it is hitting me how attached I have become. Not only is it an honor to get to spend time with these kids every day, but God is also using them to teach me so much about the simplicity of life.
One of the most popular verses in the Bible for many Americans is Philippians 4:13:
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
But what many Americans don’t realize is that this verse is in the context of talking about contentment. Specifically about contentment in situations like our children here face daily:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13)
This is one of the lessons that seeing these kids teaches me. Contentment in all things.
For the last month and a half we have had to learn a new normal for life at the center. With Hurricane Isaac taking the roof off the center, the kids have had no space of their own in which to live. Mattresses are daily carried outside of the church so that the building can be used during the day, then carried back in every night and set up to sleep on. Clothes that were soaked with rain were lost to mildew and have had to be tossed out. They now eat cramped into a small room on the side of the church because even the porch on which they spend their days eating, coloring, or doing homework has been useless as the reconstruction took over that space.
Yet despite a situation that most of us Americans would find absolutely unnacceptable, these kids (and our awesome staff) have pressed on, making the best of the situation. They have learned contentment. I am the one who has struggled.
The kids have seemingly not even noticed much of a change. They are happy every day. They have been helpful in cleaning clothes, washing dishes, and looking out for one another. They have taught me so many new ways to build toys out of the trash they find on the streets, whether toy cars made of oil jugs and milk bottle caps, or doing construction of their own with rocks and spare cardboard. They are content.
I on the other hand have remained so stressed through this whole ordeal, longing for the day we can “just fix everything” for these kids. The roof has been a struggle. Getting the kids enrolled in school was a struggle. Paying for uniforms and school books is still a struggle. Not because this stuff costs too much to do from and American perspective, but because these kids live in a world where they are easily forgotten. I know that everyone in America knows there are children living in Haiti in desperate and hopeless situations. But do most of us take the time to do something about it?
Hopefully today the roof will be finished, and the kids can return to their home. I am so thankful for the blessings of God through donors and prayers who have allowed this work to be accomplished. Yet I still look at these kids and see so much potential for a better life that could never actually reach them.
As you can see just in these pictures, we have aspiring mechanics, mothers, construction workers, and electrical engineers. But in order for those opportunities to reach reality, we need your partnership over the long-haul. We need people willing to do more than give money for a one time project. We need people who will make the commitment to sponsor a kid financially on a monthly basis to provide their food, healthcare, education, and daily needs like clothing and hygiene products. We need people and church groups who will donate a week or two of their time to come to Haiti and hold these kids, loving on them in person and sharing the Word of God. We need people who will pray for us and spread the word about the work being done here, even though it is so far from daily view.
Every day I get the opportunity to sit with these kids and dream about giving them a better future. I can’t fathom that the only thing keeping them from seeing these opportunities for themselves is the fact that the resources are not there for them. Will you partner with us to help give these kids the opportunity they will not otherwise have? Our kids have learned contentment. Will you offer these kids hope?