I’m new at this whole blog thing. I’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to start or what you’re supposed to talk about, so I’m just going to start with something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Hopefully it will help give insight into who I am, and won't make you all fall asleep.
January 2009, I had just finished my first semester of clinical nursing. Myself and 6 other students from Biola University flew down to Honduras and El Salvador to hang out with orphans, and try our best to show them God’s love.
We partnered with a great organization called Orphan Helpers, and spent most of January at several government run orphanages and three privately run halfway homes (for orphans who have aged out of the government system).
I could tell you so much about this trip, because it shaped so much of who I am, what I’m passionate about and what I believe God is calling me to. But I want to tell you about one 4-year-old boy God used to change me forever.
Isn't he precious? Eduardo lived (and probably still lives) at Nueva Esperanza (which ironically and tragically means “A New Hope”) in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Because Honduras is so poor, and there are so any orphans, the government can afford few workers for their orphanages. I believe there were about 5 workers at any given time to take care of the 100+ kids at this orphanage. There were 30-50 babies in the baby room, and only 2 workers at any given time. It's heartbreaking.
Each day we would spend a couple hours with each of the groups of kids that were separated by age. We normally went to the 3-5 year olds first thing in the morning. These kids were sweet - young enough that they hadn’t become calloused and aggressive like many of the older kids who fought constantly (one time i saw a kid pick up a piece of glass and attack another child with it).
The first day we were there, Eduardo caught my eye. The other kids were mostly engaging with our team, coloring, getting piggyback rides and playing games. Eduardo was sitting by himself.
I tried to get him to play or to color, but he was seemingly uninterested. My gringo spanish couldn't even make him laugh (seriously, i'm so bad). Every morning we’d hang out in his class, and I’d try to get Eduardo to play with me. It had become my goal to get him to smile. We were at Nuevo Espiranzo for a week and a half, and for most of that time Eduardo didn't let on that he was having any fun.
The last day we were there was so hard. None of us wanted to leave these kids we’d grown to love. We went into Eduardo’s classroom, and I sat down with him in the corner and began to play cars with him, trying to engage him one last time. And for whatever reason, for the first time I saw Eduardo come out of his shell. I saw him laugh, have fun and be full of life. For over an hour we played. We developed this game where he would climb up on a desk (super safe, I know), and I would pretend to not see him and hide behind a bookshelf. Then I would saunter by, still pretending to not see him, and he would jump on my back (like I didn't know he was going to do it) and I would give him the world’s best piggyback ride. I never got tired of it, even after the 35th time.
This little boy taught me so much. That hour we spent together, laughing and playing, was one of the best hours of my life. I saw a freedom in him that I hadn’t seen all week. It was such a victory, I can't even begin to explain how excited I was. And it made it that much harder to leave, to take that bond that was built between us and throw it away.
I can’t even explain how much it breaks my heart that I can’t go down there and get him. Sometimes I think about just picking up, driving down there and making the government let me adopt him. I know, a 22-year-old girl adopting a now 6-year-old Honduran boy sounds like an awful idea. But even the little I can offer is so much better than what he, and all those kids, are getting down there.
Here’s a few more of the many children that touched my heart at Nueva Esperanza:
It’s been 2 and a half years, but these kids are still very much with me. I’m sure many I wouldn’t even recognize now. But I love them, and think about them and pray for them frequently. God used my experience in Honduras to develop within me a brokeness for kids like Eduardo. I will never be the same person I was before I met Eduardo. I can't go on living my life the same way I did before I saw the tragedy of what life looks life for orphans. I’m ruined, gloriously ruined, and I wouldn't change it for the world.