It's amazing how joy will manifest itself to you. We often think that we will find joy in the big things - the dreams coming true kind of things - but often we find it through much smaller avenues - a kind word, a sunny day. My kids have blessed me with moments of pure, unadulterated joy, and I'm grateful for each of them. The smile on Kate's face on Friday afternoon was one of these moments.
Coming back to the orphanage after a trip to the US is always an exciting time. I was so glad that Mike and I arrived at the same time, and we were able to share the joyful circus. Throngs of kids that I haven't seen in weeks never fail to surround me for hugs and with questions about my trip. Many of them have had trouble in the past believing that I was actually coming back when I have left. They've been abandoned so many times in the past, that it's hard for them to understand - no matter how much of a relationship of trust we've built - that I am really coming back. Over the past two years, they have finally realized that they can trust that I am truly returning to them, but I still never fail to cherish the expressions on their faces on the day that I return. It's the look of them comprehending that someone truly loves them, and someone is coming back for them.
The moment of walking up to the sixth floor and seeing Kate's face light up and shrieking was one of those moments of joy. This was a little girl who knew that she was not forgotten. I say all of this not to glorify myself - it's about how desperately these kids need someone, anyone to love them deeply. We are the human manifestation of Christ, who cherishes these kids far more than I ever could, and says to us in John 14:18, "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come for you". How blessed we are to know that while we too are orphans, separated from our eternal Home, Christ - who loves us unfathomably - will return for us and take us to our true home. These kids, who have so frequently been abandoned and forgotten by man, have not been forgotten by God. I am excited to see how He continues to work in their lives and reveal His unfailing love for them.
For a quick, general update on the kids:
Everyone is doing well. The elementary age kids started their winter vacation on Friday, and the older kids finish class on Tuesday. They are all looking forward to a one month vacation from school. Many of the younger kids did very well on their end of semester exams, and I'm very proud of all of them.
I'm especially proud of Jessie, who aced her exams, and of Leo, who did a great job on his tests. He has been a struggle, as he's a very bright boy, who hates to study, but he finally put his nose to the grindstone and excelled on his exam.
Alicia and Ginger both have had some kind of swollen glands, but have been to the doctor. Ginger has recovered completely, and Alicia is well on her way.
Sam has left the orphanage to live with his grandparents, we're not sure if it is temporary or permanent. His older brother, Michael, misses him very much and has been a little depressed. Please keep him in your prayers.
Wendy's burn has healed completely, and there is no scar!
We're looking forward to having a lot of extra time to spend with the kids while they are out of school, and are hoping to plan a lot of fun outings in the near future.