Friday, April 15, 2011

Orphans and Former Orphans

Service Emphasis Week (SEW) has got to be one of the very best things about HOPAC.  This year secondary students spread out all over Tanzania on 17 different build water filters, run kids' camps, teach English, serve disabled people, teach computer classes...and the list goes on. 

Gil led the team that went to Agape Children's Village in Morogoro, a city about 3 hours from here.  So the kids and I joined him, and we took 12 HOPAC students to serve the 28 kids there for 5 days. 

Love these trips.  The students step up.  In leadership.  In love.  In service.  The kids shower their adoration on these teenagers who are willing to give of themselves to them.  It's beautiful to watch.

Visiting orphanages is not a new thing for me.  But visiting them with my two children, who were once orphans, was quite a profound experience.  In each child's face, I saw the faces of my children.  Neither of my children came from this orphanage, but if they had not been adopted, they would have grown up much the same way.

I often imagined Grace there, as a resident, not a visitor.   Her head shaved, instead of full of braids and beads.  Eating ugali with her hands instead of a spoon.  Her eyes with a yellow tinge from malnutrition or too many bouts of malaria.  Speaking only Swahili.  Helping to wash her clothes by hand, making her little bed in the morning, and putting away her meager possessions. 

Would she still be as full of life?  As confident as she is now?  As gregarious?  Would she love to laugh as much as she does in our family?  How different would she be without a mama, her Daddy, her brother?  How would her mind be different without the plethora of experiences she has had...if her whole life revolved around three buildings and a nearby school?  

She would be such a different person that I don't know if I would recognize her.  Yet that person could have been, if not for the sovereign hand of God in her life.  And millions of children in Tanzania are living that life.  The differences are stark. 

And yet....what would I be like, had I not been adopted into His family?
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