Maria de Campi orphanage has about 43 children, most of which are under the age of 5 years old. The children older than 5 were in school, so our team spent the day with those under the age of five. They were so excited to see us! As soon as I walked into the orphanage a little 5 year old precious Ecuadoran girl jumped up into my arms. As I went to walk to meet the director of the orphanage, this little girl had wrapped her arms and legs all the way around my neck and each leg and was holding on with dear life. She was not going to let me go! Finally through redirecting her attention to another team members, was I able to walk out of her grip. Throughout my day this was the scene, some children, from 1 to 5 years old, crying until you picked them up. But as soon as your arms would start giving out and you needed to put them down, they would throw themselves onto the ground with their heads hitting the concrete in hysterical cries and would continue the behavior all day. The only thing that would console them was just holding or carrying them. They were so hungry for the love and comfort and attention.
The Director informed us that all of the seven babies, except one had just gotten over the Roto virus and so they needed to disinfect the baby beds. Simon and I got to work on this immediately. We carried the tattered old baby beds outside into the sun rays and pulled out the foam mattresses which were falling apart and ripping at the seams. Simon swept out all the crumbs and dried spit up and throw up and got to work on disinfecting the beds and I disinfected the mattresses.
They asked for two girls to help in the baby’s room all day. Adrienne and Stephanie volunteered to do this. They were busy changing diapers, kissing, holding and feeding the babies. They said that one baby stayed on this wooden rocking horse all day, rocking back and forth by itself until it rocked itself to sleep. I’ve seen many children in orphanages, who rock themselves back and forth all day long, just looking for something to stimulate them and to comfort them.
Then our team turned to washing the hair of the kids as they all were infested with lice. We had a great company that donated the lice shampoo and combs to us. So, as we turned on the outside facets, the kids ran to get their hair washed. They loved playing with the water in the hot Ecuadorian sun more than having their hair washed, of course, so it was quite a chaotic watery mess. But in the end, all children had been treated. Unfortunately our team did not have the hours and days we needed to sit for the endless hours which this task demands, to pull out the eggs the lice leaves behind or to wash all the bed clothes. Sadly, this may only give them reprieve from the lice for a few days. It’s such a common epidemic in orphanages in Central and South America. In Africa, you will find most of the heads of the children shaved at orphanages and those in school, as a way to deter lice. I don’t know which is best…to grow up with no hair at all to distinguish me between a boy and a girl or to have gorgeous hair like they did at this orphanage, but to endure the discomfort of the lice. Thankfully those of us in America do not usually have to make this decision…
Cherri found a sweet little African-Ecuadorian girl named Tabitha who was about 5 years old. She only wanted to be held for hours, and every time you saw her cuddled up in Cherri’s lap, you saw a tear resting on the hollow corner of her eye, waiting to run down her cheek. She was such a sad little girl. She stayed in Cheri’s lap all day until we were about to leave when we were able to give each child some new shoes and lo and behold, this made her so happy! Each child was so happy to pick out the shoes they wanted and exchange them out for the old shoes. Every trip I go on, there’s something so magical about new shoes for children in orphanages. They are such a luxury to them and in America, most of us have over 10 pairs of shoes in our closet at all times.
I can’t wait to bring a team from VO back to work a number of days with the children in this orphanage. A young selfless Christian missionary who had been working in this orphanage this year invited our team to come to Ecuador for the first time, solely to work in this orphanage. As our team left that day we left 30 cans of formula, many baby and children clothes and toys. We also purchased hundreds of diapers as they had just run out that morning! We then headed to the nearest children’s supply company and purchased 5 new baby bed mattresses and 3 new wooden rocking horses for the orphanage. We wish we could be there every day to rock these babies and toddlers. We know these caretakers, who maybe number about 5 for all 43 children do their best, but we know that in their busyness to care for the children, that there’s no way the babies and toddlers get to be held and rocked as they should. Maybe this will bring some sort of comfort until we get back there again soon….and we will! Soon...
Well, this is the husband doing the blogging tonight! I just arrived to Ecuador yesterday only to realize that the city of Quito really isn't that different from the other cities that we visit. For instance... the buildings are very similar, the people are just as kind and humble, everyone drives VERY aggressive as if they make their own rules:), and most importantly- there are many orphans who need love in a way that we who have parents just don't understand!
Today, I was blown away when we pulled into the orphanage and I saw all the little 5 year olds fly around the corner as if they were in a race to get to us first. I remember this feeling like it was yesterday in Uganda... The smells, the sounds of babies crying, the children grabbing your arms... it is all a BIG cry for love, for help, for attention. The thing that saddens me the most is how small my offering is and that there is just such a need. It can overwhelm me sometimes... but as the song we have been singing goes:
God is big, all over me, God is big, all over you, God is big, all over us, God is big, all over the world!
Lord, just let me remember how big you are! Thank you for noticing these little ones and for being their TRUE father. Please give them life Lord and redeem these children from a life of longing. Thank you Jesus.
Con Mis Manos means "with my hands" in Spanish. We sang this song with the most wonderful children at an orphanage in Costa Rica and here we are learning it for the children and women we will be working with this week. This is a talented and inspired team!
The premise of this song is that we will honor God with our hands, our hearts and our lives. Our prayer is that we will be God's hands and feet with all those we meet and love on. Even if we don't know their language, may they know our hearts and see Him in our faces.
Tomorrow we will be working with special needs children in an orphanage and then on Tuesday with an orphanage with 43 children from babies to older children. Wednesday we will be doing a program at a Women's Prison. Most of the women in this orphanage are being held due to drug smuggling. There are American, French, Russian and African women. This is the verse I just got for today that I am holding onto:
Acts 2:5 Now ther were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? .."
Our flight to Quito was rerouted last night to Guayaquil due to a large fog cloud that had descended onto the airport. This is not the first time God has interrupted or allowed our itinerary in-country to change. I always trust that it's for our best and it usually means a great nice hotel and good night's sleep to start off our time in-country.
And I was right...we got a great night's sleep and had a wonderful breakfast. When I travel, I try to eat some if the local delicacies, so this morning I chose a fish soup called Encebollado for breakfast. It's a soup with fresh tuna and you pour a little olive oil in it and squeeze some lime into it and then you throw some plantain chips in there as well. WONDERFUL! It reminded me of Tum Cha thai soup. (I know i butchered the spelling of that!). They did have cow stomach on the buffet line as well, but I can't go there. I did once in Ethiopia and I just can't deal with that.
A professional photographer, Cherrie Cornish, traveled to Uganda and Ethiopia with our last Visiting Orphans team we sent to Africa. Her photos capture the spirit and beauty of each person she photographs. Here are some photos made of the children in the Korah city dump in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our teams are forever changed and impacted when they visit these impoverished children. So much so, that a team member, Sumer Yates, from the last team that visited them in January has set up a not for profit called Project 61 to help send 120 children to school and in just the last 3 months she has gotten 102 of them sponsored! She and her family are moving to Ethiopia in fact in just a couple of months.
Cherrie took photos of each child at Korah to send to the children's sponsors. In fact, we have just planned another trip this Summer to Ethiopia for Project 61 just to help these children. The dates are August 18th to the 29th. You can find out more here.
***photos may not be reproduced or used without permission by Cherrie Cornish
Follow along as I take this mission seriously and minister to the orphans in this world.
Visiting Orphans...It pretty much speaks for itself. Our lives are made to give away to others and I love it that helping orphans is pure and undefiled religion! Follow along as I take God seriously about this mission and minister to the orphans in this world. He is constantly at work in our lives..we just sometimes have to shift our perspective to notice Him. I pray you will hopefully see Him in the words and pictures below..through my perspective.
This blogpage follows the mission trips I lead to minister to orphans in this world. I am the Executive Director of a mission sending agency called Visiting Orphans. (www.visitingorphans.org) I believe my mission in life is similar to the President of Compassion International, Dr. Wes Stafford. In his book, "Too Small to Ignore" he says, "On one side of this international bridge, my role is to minister to the poor, to the orphans, to "comfort the afflicted." And then I cross the bridge, coming back to the Western, more affluent world, where my job is to speak and write and to "affict the comfortable" to call them to action." Loving people on both sides of the spectrum...
I pray that something in my words or pictures will inspire you to reach out beyond yourself...to GO and help the "least of these".