Yesu ananipenda!

We are officially in our last community with Journey 2013! Here’s another blog from one of our interns, Chavet Johnson.

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DSC_0746“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen…”

This week I had the privilege of meeting a beautiful woman named Phoebe. Phoebe has been one of the caregivers at the children's home for 9 years now. Phoebe has given up so much to be able to care for these children. Phoebe works with the toddlers, which it is just her and about 20 children. I saw how difficult it was for a group of 5 college students to handle 20 children and so I cannot imagine the things that she has to deal with. She has to help feed them, put them down for naps, take them potty, and get them cleaned up all on her own. Phoebe shared with me some of her struggles but through all of that she told me that she could do nothing without God; she knows that her strength comes from him. Phoebe does the best that she can for each one of those children.

Phoebe has given up most of her time at home to stay at the orphanage. She has 5 children and a husband at home who I’m sure miss her while she is away. She works 10 hours during day shifts and 14 hours on a night shift. While we were there, I never heard her complain. She laughed with us and got extra things done since she had help. All week I got to encourage her and pray with her and let her know that what she is doing is important. She sets a good example of Psalm 82:3-4, which says, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Going into Orphan Week I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was going in thinking that these children needed to be rescued, but really they already have been. God has brought these children to this home and off of the streets. These kids now have a chance to be adopted into a forever family. It’s such a different experience thinking of orphans and actually being able to put a name, a laugh, and a cry to their faces. Being able to pray over those children by name and to see their eyes when I close mine is such an incredible and heart wrenching thing all at the same time.

All week I got the chance to hang out with the toddlers along with Phoebe. In the mornings we would help feed them and get them dressed. We would feed them a snack and take them all potty. Afterwards we would play with them until they were ready to eat lunch. When we would come back in the afternoon we would do rejoice project with them. The first day we told the parable of the lost sheep. The kids who are old enough to go to school would join us in the afternoons. The first day was so fun! Just to hear the kids say “baaa” every time we said the word sheep, and to teach them Yesu ananipenda, which is Swahili for Jesus loves me was so wonderful. By the  time we left they could not stop saying “Yesu ananipenda”! We also taught them the song Jesus loves me and it was fun to hear them sing it throughout the rest of the week. On another day we made edible paint so that the kids could do some hand paintings and just be free.

All week I was attached to several of those little kids. Nadia, MIrap, Jason, Toby, each one of them left an imprint on my heart. Mirap was a little girl who stole my heart from the very first day we were there. She was about 2 years old and had the chubbiest little cheeks I had ever seen. She was often quiet and liked to do her own thing. I played with her all day on that first day and if anyone else walked up she would give him or her the eye or a little push; I was hers. When I went back the next day I was so excited to see her. When I walked up and called her name she turned away from me. All morning she ignored me and walked away from me. When I left and came back after lunch she saw that I was playing with other kids and so she came back around. After she did the same thing for the next 2 days I realized that she was upset with me because I would leave and she didn’t know I would be back. That just broke my heart. I began to think about how many volunteers come in and out of the children's home. I am just praying that each of these children find forever homes and with a Christian family at that.

I really wish that we could have spent more time at the children's home, but I know that God has placed us there just for this season. Now that we have met those kids and the caregivers I will continue to pray for them. Our whole purpose was to help out and most importantly to pray and give encouragement to the caregivers. The job that they do is so stressful and when there are not enough of them it makes things harder. Still like I said, I never heard them complain. These women constantly had smiles on their faces and were always bustling around doing whatever they could do. I will continue to pray for them, and I ask that you would do the same.