July 19th 10:30pm
Today was our last day at the orphanage/hospital. I came into today with a bittersweet mixture of emotions that I still am not quite sure how to begin processing it all. It has been an absolute joy to see the unreserved and sincere love and joy that these children express. We were able to engage every child from the youngest to the oldest in our soccer tournament, whether that meant watching from the sidelines, cheering for their friends (who might as well be family), or even playing as part of a team. We even had cheerleaders! It’s so easy for us to think that this as simple, close to nothing, but for these children, each and every single part meant the world to them. It meant that they could participate in something, find some meaningful activity for them to be a part of that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do, and engage in an activity with people who would actually love them/make them feel loved (something else that is not a common feeling for them). Throughout the rest of the day, I could tell that all the children kept close to us, willing came to us to hug us and talk to us in as much as we could attempt to communicate with each other, given the language barrier. I personally loved connecting with 2 of the younger girls. Even one of the youngest warmed up to me at the very end, coming over to me and trying to physically direct me (one who has shied away from engaging with any of us). Yet, I knew the time was coming to an end. I could see pain slowly starting to come through even underneath some of the smiles, laughter, and reserved responses when I told some that I would miss them. It was hard for me to leave them, but it gives me hope that ultimately it is God who holds them in His hands. He says to each of these children at the orphanage: “I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor. Do not be afraid – I am with you!” Isaiah 43:4-5.