• Among The Poor. Part 2

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    I am going to try to fill you in on some of our latest journeys among the lost of this world. This will be somewhat of a sequel to my posting last year. As I stated before, these encounters are shaping who I am and how I think. I again want to say I am leery to share my thoughts as every encounter or experience I have among the poor gives me a deeper understanding of the system, culture, and emotions of poverty. I want to be candid and truthful, but please read again with the understanding that I am still learning, and most likely any of my formed thoughts will be changed as I learn more. I can only share my experiences.

    Over the last months I have seen the beauty and evil of humanitarian aid, I have wept with joy and sorrow. I have lost hope in my abilities to love only to have my faith returned through a faint smile from a dying child. I have continued to spend time at Ife Oluwa orphanage. Splitting my time between holding the newborns and reading and playing with the pre-school children in the small school out back. In the pre-school class there are twenty-five 2 to 3 year olds, crammed into a small, dirty, dilapidated building. When I arrived on my first day of volunteering, much to my horror, I was greeted by two dozen crying or fighting toddlers. There were less then a handful of toys and the teacher was talking on her cell phone. I will admit the urge to flee was overwhelming. In the few seconds of observation a large lump had formed in my throte and a cold sweat had covered my body. “Oh God, please I need some love ASAP!”

    Entering the room I scooped up a few little ones who were howling the loudest. Making efforts to calm them down was successful. Except with one of the little boys. He was so thin and miserable looking. He was persistent in his tears. I held him close for a long time then just out of habit I started to kiss his cheeks and hands. After the first kiss his eyes flew up to meet mine. The emotion in his eyes! It took my breath away. I was taken aback with the thought that this little guy may never have been kissed or adored before... by the look in his eyes he may never have been comforted. After that kiss he put his hand to my cheek, gave it a slight stroke, laid his head on my chest and fell asleep. I think I was spellbound for a few moments. How do you except the realization that a little boy of 2 or 3 had just experienced his first ‘loving’ expression?

    In the meantime the rest of the children were miserable, board and fighting away their energy. Reluctantly I laid the little sleeping boy on the only dirty over-stuffed chair in the room. I then engaged the other children in games such as ring-a-round-the-rosy and Simon Says. The kids loved it and kept laughing with delight. Then, after forty minutes or so, the teacher gets off the phone, walks over to the little boy who I just laid down, whacks him hard and shouts at him saying "go sleep on the mattress across the room"! He is now hysterically crying again. At that moment I needed to get out. I just do not understand the harsh way adults treat children. I could not hold back my tears. Not wanting the teacher to see the tears I said a quick good-bye and fled the scene.

    That night anger and disillusion was rising up in my heart over the injustice toward these little kids. Roger after listing to all I had to say, very wisely explained how that teacher came from a childhood where affection and love were not shown. She now works for less then two hundred dollars a month teaching children who are dysfunctional from their lack of parental guidance. Roger said that most likely these kids are treated better at school then at home. Which is true from our observations out in the community. He placed before me a clear picture of a deadly chain of events. From one generation to the next the cycle continues. It is more evident among the poor as all their energy is focused on staying alive.

    The following week I returned to that pre-school class. This time bringing balls and some toys for the kids to play with. The amazing thing was being greeted this time around. Every child wanted to be in my lap asking for KISSES! With every kiss or hug I handed out, the child would beam with a grand smile or a display of wild emotions in their vivid brown eyes. Now every time I go to the school I can hear when one of the kids has spotted me from across the school yard. I can here excited voices saying “white auntie is coming! I get hug, I get kiss”. As amazing at it is to know you are effecting these little kids it is equally horrid to know that I am the brightest thing in their dismal lives.

    The more time I spent at the school, the more I wanted to do something to help fix the place up. Put a new roof on, paint the walls, bring in toys and books, and a playground. To me this would not be too hard. I have an ample supply of hard working brothers who could come and do the handy work. While my mom and I could gather the school resources to fill the school rooms. As I allowed my self to dream I even thought to organize teaching and equipping seminars for the teachers and parents. I must say, excitement was growing and even Roger was helping me plan. Before I mentioned anything to Mama, I wanted to run construction prices by a local, seeing as I have no idea how much a project like this would cost here in Nigeria where everything is deadly expensive. One morning I had a carpenter come and asked him to get me a price list. That way I could be sure I could afford a project like this before I committed to it by speaking of it to Mama.

    As I was leaving I got a call to come up stairs; Mama wanted to speak to me. She was livid at me and spent the next twenty minutes shouting at me about how “this is not my organization, and that I have no rights", "I have no idea what the school needs", "the school is just fine", "if I have that sort of money I should give it to her.” I realized how it must have looked for Mama to see this ‘young white girl’ talking to a carpenter on her turf. I apologised and tried to reassure her that I only wanted to get a price list and that I would never go ahead of her on anything. Awfully shaken up by this (it is something else having a big black lady in a dingy orphanage shouting at you for wanting to help), that night Roger again had to walk me through my maze of tears and emotions.

    From then until now I have walked a bit more carefully. As much as I want to step in and help, more often then not pride and corruption are the driving force here in Nigeria. All pride is awful but pride that effects others especially children is unbearable for me. Nigeria is known world wide for their scams and corrupt ways. We face it every day in almost every way. From the orphanage workers to church leaders and businessmen. A lady I know here was telling me she had been to an orphanage and noticed there were no sheets on the kid’s beds. She then bought and donated enough sheet sets for every bed. A few months later when she went to that orphanage again, she realized there were no sheets to be found. Where did they go? Most likely the majority of donations would be sold or taken back to the homes of the workers, seeing as no one would donate more sheets if the beds all ready had them. This is standard action here. I do not want to sound pessimistic or negative. Mama has dedicated her life to running this centre to help the poor. For that I commend and admire her. Cutting through the pride, corruption and darkness takes a lot of insight and strength. Skills I am still learning.

    I love children. Children fascinate me. I have found my dearest of friends in the company of children. I have learnt more from children than any other thing. Honestly, I am in awe of children. I have studied their habits and development of character and characteristics my whole life. I know the weight and importance of every child’s life. God has created every soul for a purpose. It has not been until I have travelled the world, observed abandoned or dying children, the poor the neglected, even among the rich children have I come to realize the world is losing its children's souls. Children are under attack! Children are the world’s greatest assets! They are the future. They are the morals and thoughts and shapers of the next chapter of history. They will invest into the next generation what they have in their souls. But we are facing an almost instinction of children who are whole, loved and raised to make a positive difference. Most people of this world are not children friendly. They scorn children and in return children are being raised with selfish antics and holes of longing in their souls. We are still facing staggering numbers of deaths in Africa among the children. One third of every child in Africa dies of hunger, sickness or abandonment. I have witnessed this. The numbers are true. But then again one third of children are dying in the free world also. Statistics say that more children are dying in the West then in any other fraction of the world. Abortion has claimed the lives of (lets be favourable) two million children in my lifetime, in my country alone. It is a miracle that I am alive, if one in three children conceived today will not make it to its fifth birthday. I have just watched a man given the title of President of the United States who has voted as a Senator to allow abortion to take place until the twenty-fifth week of pregnancy. Steps are been taken every day to make abortion more available and less of a hassle. Canada has more abortions then any other country per capita. The numbers are about 110,000 per year! I could write about all the awful things that are taking place on the streets of Africa also. It seems to be easier to give compassion money to aid the orphans then it is to realize we have just as big of an issue within the clean lines of abortion. Think for a second what would happen if the church stood up and did it’s job (overthrowing darkness) and abortion was no more allowed in Canada. Would the church open its arms to these children? What about me? 110,000 babies a year, who will care for them? We would end up with as much of a crisis as Africa. It is clear to me the children of this world are under attack. I know that very few things will change the state that we are in. There needs to me a radical change of heart towards children. For me as a lover of Jesus Christ and a child of God I must not except this world wide neglect. I need a change of heart to love those around me unconditionally. I must know that love conquers all!

    We need to declare war, silent to the world but loud through prayer. God asked me a few months ago if I would pray for the children of this world. Simple I thought..until I realised...God wants this madness to stop! And it is now on my watch! Who will cry for the child who is lost to death this moment? Who will fight selfishness in their own hearts so as to have a fighting chance with love? Who will pray? Who will die for these children? We are all accountable before God. The death of every child is being written on this chapter of history. I face the truth of despair every time I am at the orphanage or school or hear of yet another beautiful baby lost because of selfishness and lack of love. All over the world peoples souls are full of themselves and empty to love. I have looked into the hard eyes of a mother handing over her newborn baby simply because she has not enough food; I have looked into the lifeless eyes of a women who has just cleared her body of life. I see a dead society who needs a few people who have God’s love pouring out of them. Not with words or fine preachy sermons or warm church seats. But everyday life and friendship. Need they know our beliefs or religious convictions? I don’t think so. Dead eyes must see life in our eyes. This is how they will know there is another way. There is a way of love. And war...but that is for us to battle in prayer.
    Pray for the children who will die today...because of hunger...because of not being wanted. Pray today for me, for you that selfishness and pride will be exchanged with love and life given only by God.

    I had a desire pictured in my head of an orphanage filled with things essential to the growth and development of children. I thought that dream was to be birthed in Nigeria but then God shut down options for me here in Nigeria. I wondered why God had allowed me to get so excited and have it planned to every last detail.
    I wondered this until I was in Tanzania with our dear friends Daniel and Irene, who have been called to be teachers of the gospel in Tanzania and around the world. Roger and I have learnt so much from both Daniel and Irene. Along with teaching and training, they have felt a call to start an orphanage in Tanzania. Along the whole of our trip we never had a chance to talk about the orphanage until the last day together. When Daniel started showing us some pictures. The first picture of the orphanage I saw, I got goose bumps. It was the very picture I have had in my head all these months. As we started talking details we realized we could finish each others sentences because the very visions that they had was what Roger and I had been planning, thinking it was for Nigeria. Even the very tiny details like the number of children in the home, to the pictures on the wall, it was exactly alike.

    Seed Of Life Orphanage

    Soon to be home for babies in Tanzania

    So must I announce that we have a dream.....and are looking forward to being involved in getting this home up and running. After all the dismal things I had to say about corruption and such, you may wonder at my enthusiasm over another orphanage.

    This will be a home run as a family. God designed children to be in a family. The home will be lead by two people who are leaders of God’s kingdom in Africa. I heard a missionary Doctor to Africa once say not to give your money to just any organiszation but give it to the people who are out on the streets doing the work. This is what I know about Daniel and Irene they are in the streets giving of their lives, devoted to seing God's kingdom established in Tanzania and the rest of Africa. They have sacrificed everything, they have faced death and still they proceed. I am excited and eager to start getting things going. Roger and I are working on dates and times for me to return to Tanzania. Hopefully this time to see the completion of this beautiful dream of saving some of the lost babies of this world. We dream of life, beauty, joy, peace and security for the children who will be part of this new home. I will keep you posted on the progress of this project!

    I have days where God’s voice never stops sharing with me the pains of this very dark world. I have heard the voice of God longing to see change. He will do the changing, I will be only an instrument of love and obedience to and for him. One day when the call to battle and prayer hung heavy around me, I humanly desired to have a ‘normal’ day, I had a long list of things to get done. I had the audacity to mention to God I needed a little rest! As I came into the living room, the song "When It's All Been Said and Done", by Robin Mark, was coming from my computer. One of the girls must have turned on itunes and this song I had not listened to in years was playing. This is a song that has spoken to me throughout my life, as many of you may remember from my graduation, when I had Roger sing it as ‘my song’. Hearing this song at that very moment brought me to my knees. It brought my heart back to focus. I am here to love, to love God, to love others, let me never forget this!

    When It's All Been Said and Done.
    By: Robin Mark

    When it's all been said and done
    There is just one thing that matters
    Did I do my best to live for truth?
    Did I live my life for you?

    When it's all been said and done
    All my treasures will mean nothing
    Only what I have done
    For love's rewards
    Will stand the test of time

    Lord, your mercy is so great
    That you look beyond our weakness
    That you found purest gold in miry clay
    Turning sinners into saints

    I will always sing your praise
    Here on earth and in heaven after
    For you've joined me at my true home
    When it's all been said and done
    You're my life when life is gone.