Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I Will Never Leave You

I have a story that I want to tell you guys. It's a simple story, but it is one that holds a big place in my heart (and most of the time makes me very emotional).

In June of this year I was given the amazing opportunity to go to Haiti for a week. I went with some people from my youth group. Once we were in Haiti we met up with another youth group that was from Wisconsin, and we all bonded fairly quickly. We were one big team.

While we were in Haiti, we spent a lot of our time with some of the Haitian children. I've said it before, in my first post, these children, and adults, are so beautiful and kindhearted. Even in the direst situations, they are thankful. We went to a school, a few homes that had taken in orphans, and an actual orphanage. Today, my story is about the orphanage that we were able to go to while in Haiti.

It was the Sisters of Charity Orphanage that was started by Mother Theresa. Previous to this, I had never been to an orphanage, so I had no idea what to expect. Our team leader, Joe Rigelsky, had warned us that it was going to be tough and that we needed to spend time in prayer to ready ourselves for what we were about to endure.

He was right. From the moment we arrived it was heartbreaking. As soon as we got out of the vans a young mother was standing outside of the orphanage gates crying because they would not take her baby. The baby had some physical problems and she had no way of taking care of her child. But the sisters would not take the baby from her. We stopped and prayed for her. (Our leaders made sure her and her baby got to a hospital for proper care).  After seeing this mother my heart was already breaking. I could never imagine having to give up my baby.

We entered into the gates of the orphanage, sanitized our hands, and walked through a building and into a little courtyard area with surrounding buildings and a playground. The place that we were at was where all the babies were. I could not believe how many babies there were. As I walked through the buildings I would walk down the aisle of beds and cribs and look at all the babies. Some were healthy, but it was very few. 

To my disappointment, everyone I was with was so much faster than I was, so they got to all the babies before I did. There was another group at the orphanage already, and it was also the weekly visiting time for the mothers which was amazing, because all of the babies were being held! Joe said that that was very rare. He'd never seen that before.

I walked to the playground and watched as my friends were loving on some of the babies. After a while, someone came and handed me one of the babies - it was a precious little girl. As I held her in my arms, I would sway back and forth and I would smile down at her and I would repeat over and over "beautiful" in Creole. My heart felt so full, all I wanted to do was continue to hold her and love on her. I was able to do that for a while, just swaying and gushing over her. The baby would look up at me with squinted eyes and a half open mouth. I realized that she was hungry once she started to suck on my shoulder. After a while, she ended up spitting up all over my arm which surprisingly didn't phase me. But one of the mothers came up to me and kindly began to wipe off the spit up that covered my arm. She then took the baby girl to feed her.

Once again, I was left with no baby. I walked over to the fence, and began to watch everyone play and love on their babies. It was such a beautiful sight, but I wasn't left without a child for long. Joe came up to me holding a little boy in his arms. He placed him into my arms and told me that he was very sick and that today was one of his bad days. He had a hernia on his stomach so as I held him I had to be very careful. Joe informed me that he absolutely loved being sung to. As I looked into the babies face, I realized that he was indeed very sick. He started to cry right away, and squirm in my arms from discomfort and so I began to sing. I was determined to comfort him, but that took a long time.

I began to walk around the orphanage and sing to him, but he was still crying out. Once he started to push away, I got scared that I wasn't going to be able to hold onto him. I passed him to a couple different people, but then he would reach out to me. Happy and slightly confused I took him back right away. He did like me, he just wasn't feeling good. I held him in my arms again, being mindful of his hernia and I walked into one of the buildings and began to sing to him again. I would sing and sway, pulling him close to my chest. He started to doze off, and I felt so victorious. There would be the occasional outburst, but I knew that it was only because he was sick.

After a while, the mothers visiting time ended and everything became chaotic. The babies started to cry because no one was holding them, and of course their mothers were gone. We all tried our best to console them, but it was so difficult. Our hearts were breaking for them. What made it even worse was Joe told us after a while that we only had about 15 minutes with them and we were going to have to leave. That was the LAST thing that I wanted to do, I didn't want to leave any of them. Especially the one the I was holding in my arms. But Joe told us that we needed to spend this time praying over the babies and loving on them and placing them back into their cribs.

So that is what I did. I would reach into various cribs and smile down on them and pray. Towards the end, I walked off and sat in a chair and prayed, asking God to break my heart for what broke his. Right away I began to cry. I pulled the baby closer to me and kissed him on the head. I stood up and began to walk towards his crib. My heart was aching so badly, our time had drawn to an end and I couldn't handle it. I leaned over his crib and laid him down. I kissed him multiple times on the forehead as tears streamed down my face. He had a death grip on my fingers and wouldn't let go. I stared down at him. He looked so confused, as if he was asking me "Are you leaving too?" I took a deep breath and I kissed him one last time on his head and ripped my fingers from his grasp and walked away with some of the people from my group. But I made the one mistake of looking back at him, he was crying and reaching his arms out through the bars of the crib, seeing that made me cry even harder.

Everyone else in the group was having a hard time as well. Joe was right, this was an incredibly hard thing to have to see. All of our hearts were breaking for the children in the orphanage. They just needed someone to hold them and love them. We were thankful we were able to give that to them for a little bit that day. This was an experience I don't think any of us will forget, it definitely holds a place in our hearts.

Now, there is a point to this story that I would like to share with you guys.

I feel like a lot of us can relate to these babies. We can feel so alone and as if we have been left behind. We are all orphans at some point. Lost and alone. But Jesus...he is so good. He came to save us and make us a part of his family... so we don't have to be alone, and we don't have to feel as though we are unwanted. There is a song, No Longer Slaves, there is a part of it which says: "From my mothers womb you have chosen me. Love has called my name. I've been born again, into your family. Your blood flows through my veins." And another song, This is Amazing Grace, there is a phrase that says: "Who makes the orphan a song and daughter. The king of glory, the king of glory."  I think that that is so beautiful. God loves us! He will never leave us, and he wants us to be a part of his family. How crazy is that?

You don't have to feel alone and as though you are left behind and forgotten, you can be a part of God's forever family. God is so good. Even though people will fail you, and leave you. God never will, and he proved that by dying on the cross for us. I am so thankful for that!

Hebrews 13:5b "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

1 comment:

  1. This story is so touching. How amazing it is that God will never leave us, even when our parents do. I can't imagine how you felt letting go of that baby, but it had to be so very painful. I didn't realize that orphanages in Haiti were filled with so many children. Thank you for sharing your testimony. <3