I am teaching at an international school in a city. Each year, during spring, a village trip is planned for the middle and high school students. This year in April, together with 5 other teachers, we chaperoned the students (included my two daughters) to work at an orphanage in a village 5 hours from the city. There is no church in that village.
The orphanage has its humble beginnings beside a dusty road among dilapidated surroundings. At that time, morale among the few staff was low, as there was little support and interest for the work, according to the current director who has been with the orphanage since its early days. However, seven years ago, an expatriate family felt burdened to move in and work alongside the local staff. They learned the language, helped care for the orphans, planted trees, flowers, and shrubs to liven up the atmosphere, and loved and cared for the staff. As they allowed the love of God to flow through them, not only did the work morale heighten, but lives were changed as well. Some of the staff were born again into His kingdom. The director (who is close to joining the kingdom) said, “We no longer regard our job as a chore and duty but as a vocation.”
Today, the orphanage has expanded to two other wings housing handicapped children and the elderly, a number of whom are deaf or blind. Together with my students, I was assigned to work among the children aged two years and below. Most were healthy but a third had genetic disorders – Down’s syndrome, cleft lip/palate and brain damage. One toddler was without a hand. Another had parents who had AIDS. One other had parents who are in prison for drug abuse.
I was impressed by the standard of hygiene, efficiency, orderliness and devotion of the staff. The infants were adorable. I am proud of the students who helped feed, carry, comfort and clean the babies. Some struggled at feeding the little ones with cleft lip or brain damage who could not swallow properly. Our hearts went out to the boy whose parents have AIDS. He had two blood tests, one of which was positive for HIV. He looked forlorn and lonesome and we heard that the staff was afraid to have close contact with him for fear of getting the disease. He is due for a third blood test in a month or two. We are hoping and praying for the Lord’s will for him.
We also learned that a few infants will be adopted by Christian families overseas. They are awaiting clearance of papers and proceedings. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” It is my hope that the Lord who cares for orphans will place these children in loving homes and that He will bless the staff at the orphanage as well as the adopted families of the orphans.
My older daughter worked with the handicapped children – feeding, playing and walking with them. The younger one worked at another orphanage, removing piles of debris and painting the building. Having inhaled a lot of dust, she returned with a cough. Despite that, it was a touching experience for the girls. On the last day, many of the students stood up and shared moving testimonies. One girl who was adopted cried as she realised how fortunate she is to have loving parents. Another boy from a less fortunate home environment cried too as he felt he is still more privileged than the kids at the orphanage. The visit ended with many of the students surrounding and praying for two of the staff, the children, and the orphanage.
The experience has indeed brought feelings of sadness, joy and hope for many of us.
Excerpted from “Journey Jumbles – Real Stories...Real People...A Real God,” a JMM publication for Bartley Christian Church July Mission Month 2008.