Rehab was in the works this morning, but the plan was to stay there, not go to McDonald's (again!). The kids were obviously overjoyed when we arrived. Hugs, kisses, and screams abounded.
There's something so incredible about the kids recognizing you and coming up to say hi to YOU, not just some new person. We go to love them, and they end up sharing so much love with us.
After some singing outside, Micah (and the guitar) and I went inside the orphanage to the rooms with the kids that are immobile--my favorite! I was praying I'd be able to see my little rabbit (Marius), a sweet boy that I hung out with quite a bit last year. He wasn't in the room we went into, but I asked one of the ladies, and she pointed me toward him. I asked if I could pick him up and take him into the room with the guitar and she gave me permission. I was overjoyed. I sat on sweet Elena's bed (Elena who is constantly giggling, smiling, and squealing) with Marius. To say Elena was excited that we were there and with a guitar non the less is the understatement of the century. She scooted as close to me as possible, and couldn't contain her joy. To be with her for only a moment is good for one's soul.
As I sat there with 14 year old Marius in my arms, part of me started to be overcome with grief and despair at the conditions around me, at the fact that these teenagers who are the size of a two to four year old are stuck in cribs and not held or touched, at the fact that there is seemingly no hope for these kids.
Yet, my amazing God reminded me that He is their hope. Of course He is. There is nothing other than that for them. As I held Marius and tried to get him to relax and laugh, I pictured him in Heaven--full and whole and healthy--running around with his incredible laugh. That's the hope these kids have. They may have nothing in this life, but by the grace of God, they will have everything in eternal life. It'll all be worth it. And, what's more, I'll be able to be there with them! I am so anxious for the day that I'll meet Marius in Heaven and reminisce about the days we spent in his orphanage, singing and laughing together. How sweet the sound will his laugh be in Heaven. How unimaginable that day will be.
How amazing is our God's overwhelming grace.
After Rehab, as we were waiting for our bus, I was able to debrief the morning a bit with one of the UCB team members, Camryn. I listened to her experience and how her heart was feeling and shared a bit about what I wrote above. We pretty much had a soul connection at that moment (and our good conversations lasted on and off throughout the day). I'm fairly certain we'll be friends even after this trip--like it or not, Camryn!
This afternoon we headed back to St. Joseph (check out last Thursday's post if you want to know more about the center and the kids). It was different and exciting to be there with the team today since there were more bodies to spread love around, more people to play games with, and a new (to this group of kids!) program. As always, these kiddos loved the team's singing. It was so mesmerizing that even I started to doze off--ok, ok, let's be real. I'm tired! After the program and singing, we played a few organized games with the kids. At this point, one of the teachers brought in a little three year old, who had just woken up from her nap, and basically handed her off to me. Sweet! I'll take that any day. Her little sassy self ordered me around and told me what to play with--amazing how young these little ones learn survival skills. Before I knew it, however, it was time to say "see you later." As rough as these kids can be, I'm glad I'll get to see them next week.
Dinner at City Grill with the team and Costel was on tap next, so we headed over to Uniri. I ate Mici, of course, as did a few of the team members, and I savored every bite. Papanas for dessert brought many a smile to our faces--sorry, Brian, I wish I could bring some back for you!
I headed back to the ministry center for a bit after dinner to get a craft ready for Tei tomorrow. Although I'm exhausted, I'm beyond excited to see those sweet little faces again so soon.
Fortunately we have this team for another week. I was a bit anxious about their longer stint at first since teams can sometimes be exhausting, but I'm quite enjoying getting to know these goobers. I'm sure I'll have many more stories to tell in the near future.
But, with that, I must bid you "pa pa" for now. I'm wiped. Thanks for your continued encouragement and prayers! Noapte Buna!