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Visiting the Orphanage


Submitted By mrtweetybird
Words 618
Pages 3
I really don't know how to accurately describe the despair and emptiness and gripping desperation we saw and experienced that Tuesday afternoon in a small orphanage in Kinshasa. I feel the tears beginning to surface as I type and think back to that day.

As we drove through the dirt streets covered in garbage and waste and inhaled the fumes of diesel and charcoal and thick smog in the air, I strived to take a mental image of the scenes as we drove past {I so badly wanted to take a photo but knew it was illegal, so my mental images would be all I had to carry home with me}. I attempted to force to memory the image of the little boy running through the dirt with his handmade stick car being pulled by a tattered twine rope. I observed the women balancing heavy buckets on their heads while they carried young children on their backs. I tried to absorb the sights and sounds and smells and commit them to memory.

As we inched closer to the orphanage, her orphanage, I knew that we were passing the streets where our daughter spent her first months on this earth. My heart ached as I gazed out the window of our van. I had to remind myself to breathe, as I sat in disbelief watching this world, her world, pass by. It was truly unlike anything I had seen or experienced before. Knowing that our precious girl had lived here in this place left me numb.

Our arrival at the orphanage was met with shrieks of joy and sweet, quiet voices whispering "Thank you!" in an effort to express gratitude in our own language. I tried to look into each set of eyes as they came up for hugs. I wanted to just hold them all tightly and tell them they are dearly loved by our Father in Heaven. I wished I could sweep them away from this place and show them that the world outside of those gates can be bright and vibrant and beautiful.

Their eyes each told a story. A story of loss and despair. Each set of eyes reflected a haunted little soul beneath. I will never, ever forget these children. They are etched in my heart always. The way they eagerly reached out to touch our arms and legs, craving affection. The gratitude they felt for small things that I would normally take for granted. A soft mattress to sleep on at night, a cold drink, a small toy. Small, simple things.

The children performed a few songs for us and then we passed out snacks and some toys. We also distributed rosaries donated by Dave's parent's church. The kids were so excited to have something of their own.

These children. They are living in conditions that are literally worse than anything we would allow animals to live in here in the US. Yet, they are so sweet and kind. They look out for one another. The older kids take care of the younger ones. They laugh and smile. A flicker of hope still shines.

We also learned more details about S's past. It was harder to hear than I thought it would be. I hadn't realized it, but I had subconsciously fabricated a story in my mind of what she had been through. When I heard the truth, well, I just wasn't as prepared as I thought I was. Books and lectures and stories from other parents can't prepare you for that information. It was a hard, hard day.

We left feeling heavy, exhausted and incredibly sad. Dave and I spent the drive home holding hands in silence as the tears fell.

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