“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
If there is one thing we can teach our children in this life it is to be accepting. To try and show love and respect to those whom need it that they encounter. To play, hug, laugh, and hold hands with each child that reaches out to them at an orphanage. To feel like what our family is doing here is a blessing, even with the sacrifices that are being made. By the grace of God we were picked to bring love and hope to the parentless and those who may feel they have been forgotten.
Yesterday, we saw this, just like we did at Mother Blessings a few weeks ago. Our children see no bias. They see no difference in a child that sleeps 3 to a dirty mattress on a dirt floor or a child who lives in a 5 bedroom house. They see no difference in a child who has no shoes and a child who has a closet full. They see no difference in a child who plays with a plastic and worn soccer ball then a child who has the opportunity to have a uniform, coach, boots, and actual goals with nets in them. However, they DO see the need. They see the needs that one child has and the other has fulfilled. They notice the children scooping their lunch into their mouths from a shared bowl not using forks or spoons, they notice the tattered clothes, and lack of toys, but it doesn’t change the outlook. I pray that they will always see the good in people, no matter their background. If we as adults could live with childlike hearts this world would be a better place. I am challenged each day to think of what my 3 year olds and 1 year old would do, how would they treat a child who comes to them and reaches for their hand, whether they are in Liberia, West Africa or in Cartersville, Georgia? They will take that child’s hand in theirs and with that simple gesture show them they are loved, wanted, and they have a purpose.
We have done things here that in one bazillion years I would never have pictured our family doing. By some special coaxing from our friends, the Hentschls (introduced them a couple blogs ago), and lots and lots of prayer and discernment Zach and I decided we were all going to go to Ganta. Zach was planning to go all along to see and document these children at Children of Hope orphanage get their new well built by Water4 (who the Hentschls are here with), make a food drop, bring the kiddos much needed shoes and clothes, and assess any needs the orphanage may have further since they have only been with OAL since January. Ganta is a 4 hour trip from Monrovia, and then the orphanage is an additional hour down a very bumpy road to a city called Sagleipie. There is no paved roads there, the buildings and businesses are not what you would see in the capital city of Monrovia. A person from the first world (like me) wonders how in the world these businesses ever get things to sell in their stores. How do they navigate these roads daily? Especially during the rainy season. It is mind blowing!
We stayed at Jackie’s Guest House in Ganta which has 24-hour electricity and running water. I mean that’s a huge win for Liberia! Not many guest houses keep their generators running daily and they certainly don’t have the accommodations this one has. We seriously lucked out. Now, it’s no Plaza hotel in New York City, actually I’m pretty sure Trip Advisor may give it a quarter of a star. For Liberia, it’s definitely a 4 star Guest House! We got one room as a family of 5. The twins and I shared a bed and Zach slept with crazy sleeper, Mad Max, on the air mattress. Zach and I have never slept with our kids, like in the same bed. Same room, yes, occasional sick night, yes, but this was interesting to say the least. I found out the twins grind their teeth in their sleep, and it’s a horrible horrible sound. Zach had to switch with me around 5 am bc Max was sticking his feet in his face and Zach’s bodyweight was a little much for the air mattress. Our kids slept! Mom and dad, not so much! But this is that missionary life, and with that lack of sleep we think about all of the children in the orphanages sleeping 3+ to a mattress on a dirt floor with no AC, and a mosquito net protecting them from harmful malaria carrying mosquitoes, I think we were doing pretty ok! Dinner the night before took about 2 hours from ordering to finishing, it’s like every corner is such a challenge for us because we are severely outnumbered by our kids, not only because we are actually outnumbered but also because they DO NOT SIT. EVER. I’m thankful for active boys, I wouldn’t have it any other way but it tends to make things hard when things take a much longer time here in Liberia. We are learning to roll with it, to just figure things out while we go, and practice and pray for lots and lots of patience!!! Let’s just say we have no regrets on going into the field with our family. It was a learning experience but we are just so grateful we get to do it and will do it again.
We pulled into the orphanage the next morning and were greeted by two large archways made of palm tree branches and beautiful pink flowers. It was such a nice welcome. The kids flooded the cars and the boys were immediately cognizant of the children who were shoeless. They were so excited we had shoes to give them! The kids are so excited when they have visitors! Max and Brady jumped right in but it took our Isaac man a second to get warmed up to it all. We said our hellos and it was time to dedicate the well, and pump that first bit of fresh water for these kiddos who have been pulling buckets up of dirty water from a literal hole in the ground for drinking, washing, cooking, etc. Huge thanks to the Hentshcls and their efforts here with Water4. These wells bring people way out in the bush water that won’t make them incredibly sick, possibly even with infections that they can die from. Clean water is so important and something that I have seen how much we took for granted in the states. It was so amazing to see the children pump that water for the first time and see them caring for their new well, not letting anyone with shoes into the pumping part to dirty the concrete. I know they will take very good care of it. The rest of our time was spent playing, shooting rockets (the boys would put the rockets back on for the next two kids to go and give them a countdown, 3-2-1 GO when it was time to launch them, the kids got such a kick out of this and I was so proud of them for sharing so well and being so encouraging), the twins played a lot of futbol, and we ended with coloring Bible story pictures with the kids. We ate lunch, and enjoyed every minute we had there. By nap time Max was telling us it was time for him to get cooled off, our children have not quite figured out that if you don’t sit down and rest in the shade for a small time they will actually hit a very hard wall at some point, and Max did just that. I call it the debilitating crash. All three of them slept the entire way on the very bumpy road back to Ganta. I mean I have no idea how they were able to do this! We got in our car and off to Monrovia we went. About 10+ hours of travel in 2 days, but my dudes absolutely killed that part of it and I am so proud of them. We missed our comfy mini-van and DVD player but we managed! We have found a new love for coloring and Melissa & Doug water coloring books. I am beginning to stress less and less about trips with them, they have shown me time and time again they can handle travel. Proud of them!
I had so many moments at the orphanage watching my children interact with all of the children that I just felt so sure of why we were sent here. I had many times I said, “ok Lord, I get it, I see it, and I am so thankful we were chosen. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Some moments that stand out the most, when our Isaac was walking with another little boy hand in hand to an empty dirt area to play soccer. Just walking, probably not talking, to go do something they love together. Brady was in his element running around and kicking he soccer ball, their smiles were just so big. Max was just making all the little girls chase after him (including me) so he wouldn’t do anything he wasn’t supposed to, at one point he had an axe in his hand, I mean I could totally see that going really well!!
I am going to finish this by saying thank you. Thank you to our supporters, to every single person that has partnered with our family to give us the ability to spread Gods word, bring love and hope to these orphaned children while also bringing them basic necessities to keep them thriving. None of this would be possible without Orphan Aid, Liberia. Each shirt purchased, each donation made, it literally turns into nourishing food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, and so much more for a child who wouldn’t see any of those things otherwise.
If you are at all interested in partnering with our family please do not hesitate to reach out to us for any questions you may have. We pray for all of you every single day and we feel all of the prayers being sent up for us also.
Interesting in partnering with us click the link below: