First of all, if you are one of the people that has been praying for me over the past few days, I want to thank you. You all have walked so far with me in the past year that I feel like I can be honest, and the truth is that about 24 hours into the trip, I decided this was one of the worst choices I had ever made. I sat on a rickety bed in a room with no windows or door keys and I cried my eyes out while Anne told me I was going to be okay.
Somewhere between the 16 hour flight, no sleep, and facing the thought of what I was about to experience, I really felt trapped. My brain just kind of went into survival mode and I couldn’t even think about hearing the kids voices or seeing Todd online because it forced me to remember that I can’t get to them.
Yesterday we went to see Mother Theresa’s home, and the orphanages that still stand in her name. There just isn’t a way to describe looking into her bedroom and imagining her there. It is a sparse, small room, and it is exactly what you would picture. Over her bed hangs a crown of thorns that she made with a picture of Christ above it, and she was said to have been staring at it when she died. Her eyes were fixed on Him and His children in a way that defies comprehension, and as I walked back down the steep staircase, I felt the Lord gently urging me out of my selfishness and reminding me why I was there.
A few minutes later, we walked through the orphanage for babies and children who have special needs. Almost immediately, I saw a tiny, newborn baby girl. I asked the nun beside me how old she was, and she told me they thought she was 2 or 3 weeks old. I asked what her name was, and the nun explained that they didn’t have names because the Lord took so many of them away. I watched her wriggle around for a few minutes, and then when she started to cry, I had to fight every instinct I had to pick her up. I laid my hands on her and they covered her tiny legs. Her crying hushed and she looked around, trying to find the source of comfort. I will never forget that moment, standing with my hands on a baby, asking the Lord to protect her. You know her name, Lord…
That looks good on paper.
But in the moment, looking around at dozens and dozens of eyes, it felt hopeless.
I think I needed to see it that way to deal with something that has been lodged in my brain for years. It’s almost easier to ignore the water than to dip your toe in it.
Because as soon as you do, you become acutely aware of all the eyes that are looking at you, needing help, and it feels impossible. I couldn’t post last night because I was so overwhelmed by it all. This morning Todd and I talked this morning via skype and I was trying to hold it together. I managed for a few minutes because Ellie seemed so happy, but when Abby saw me, her face crumpled up and we both started crying. After we had both gotten a little bit of it out, we started talking and then I made her giggle. It was such a relief, but all I wanted was to be near to her and comfort her. I felt so isolated. She told me that they had been praying for the baby with no name. I didn’t tell her about all of the others.
One was enough.
We went to the first Compassion project today and I can’t begin to tell you how it affected me. I have been mulling this post over, praying, asking the Lord to give me the words I can’t find. There are so many stories I want to share, so many things God allowed me to experience, and it has challenged me in a beautiful way.
It has been really easy for me to stay out of the water in a lot of ways, and my own cynicism has kept me safe there. But today, as we stood in a house made of bamboo and clay bricks and watched a woman tell us how Compassion had changed their lives, something in my soul settled.
As we left the second house, I got a couple pictures of the family and I fought back tears as her father adjusted her name tag to make sure her Compassion information was showing.
She had a name.
Compassion International is more than what I imagined. More than my mind would have let me believe. More than I can express to you in this moment of exhaustion. I can’t wait to share stories of the people we meet and some of the things we have done, but tonight (or, morning? afternoon?), I will leave you with this image of the before and after.
Don’t miss the subtle change.
And neither will they.