Thursday, May 24, 2007

And then there were 16

So many stories to share with you all but not enough words in the English language to do them justice. However, in an attempt to once again connect you with this place, my heart, and God’s sense of humor I will attempt to find some way to express the events of the past 72 hours. As you know we met with the judge on Monday about the Brian and Rudy situation. You also know that we were to pick them up today. Well the part of the story that I didn’t mention before was this…. While we were sitting in the Judge’s office waiting for the mom to come in she mentioned that she had a 12 year old boy upstairs named Luvin that had no place to go. He has a past of bad bad physical abuse and had run away from home. He had been placed in another home but his mother had come and taken him out. After running away a second time he was living on the street. They had brought him in and were trying to find a placement for him. After mentioning if he was upstairs (with a sneaky little grin on her face) she says “would you like to see him.” We said we would meet with him. As the judge left the room to go get the little one Jen looks over at me and says “wanna take home 3?” With a grin I answered that maybe it was the reason God had placed us there and allowed the Bryan and Rudy situation to take so long. Well in walked Luvin with his scarred up body, scared little smile, and freckled face. After talking to him for a few minutes it was official…we were putting him in our truck and taking him home. From there you know how the rest of our day…went to the mom’s house, got the paperwork signed, and set up plans to return on Wednesday for Bryan and Rudy. Let’s just say that the first 48 hours with Luvin was a bit of a challenge. At 12 years of age he is 2 years older than our almost 10 year old oldest child. He out powered, out intimidated, and out mouthed every child that we have. His attitude was one of a child who had been through a lot and had learned to harden himself from the world. We found out that the home he used to live in was the one and only Jimmy Hughes orphanage and that he had cousins living there. He was very adamant about the fact that he wanted to be back there and did not enjoy staying with us. He also did little to hide the fact that he would indeed run away if we didn’t allow him to return to Jimmy. Like I said….the first few hours were a bit of a challenge! We tried everything we could to satisfy him. We were nice. We called Jimmy to see if he could go there. We tried appeasing him in every way we could think of. However, nothing seemed to be working. So yesterday when Jen headed into the city to pick up Bryan and Rudy from the judge she took Luvin back ready to admit defeat. We could not put our children at risk. We could not take the risk of him running away while he was our responsibility. So we all stood in the driveway waving goodbye with almost a sigh of relief escaping our mouths as we watched the gates close behind them. For the time we were back to having just 10 children. We went about our day as usual…Colby and I even managed to sneak a nap in somewhere between our morning shift and when Jen was to be home. We had just gotten up and was on the back porch doing our devotions when Karen walked up. I’ll never forget the next few moments as long as I live. She slowed when she reached us and then with a look of pure apprehension on her face says “Jen called me and she’s bringing home 6.” Completely clueless and hoping she didn’t mean what I thought she meant I replied “6 …what exactly?” Of course her answer was “6 new kids” why wouldn’t Jen be bringing home 6 new kids. Astonished I was like what the heck…6…really. To my surprise (as well as all of yours I’m sure) I of all people was speechless for a few moments. As I sat trying to wrap my mind around what 6 new children would mean for this place I couldn’t find words to explain all the emotions whirling within my head. We talked for a few minutes about what needed to be done before I did the only thing I knew to do…I went back to my bible/journal and sought comfort in the one place that comfort was going to be possible in those first moments when every worst case scenario was playing out in my head. 30 minutes later I heard that ever familiar beep signaling that Jen was home and it was go time. Have I mentioned that we had lost electricity sometime in the midst of all of this and still didn’t have it back? So yes Jen was walking into our dark home with 6 new children and no way of shedding light onto an already dark situation. I met Jen at the door to find that only 3 of the 6 children were with her. The other 3 were coming later. It was a welcome surprise to be able to relish in the fact that at long last Bryan and Rudy were walking through our front door and into my arms! After hugging the stuffing out of them I turned with tears in my eyes to Colby, did my happy dance, and threw my arms around her while continually saying “there here” “there really here!” Gone were thoughts of having 6 new children as I simply enjoyed the feel of those sweet sweet boys within my embrace. I can remember thinking only one thing… God is good. Even as I turned to the third child…the one and only Luvin I was sincere when I said “I’m glad you’re back.” At that moment nothing was going to rain on my parade and I was ready to take on the world so what was one defiant and hard child. Unable to place him anywhere else and after a day of bonding with Jen, Bryan, and Rudy he had somehow found his way back to Casa. I stood staring at him, thinking of what his return could mean for all of us, and trying to figure out how I felt about it all when it hit me. He was just returning to any orphanage he was returning to Casa de Esperanza…House of Hope. The one thing we are founded on and stand behind is the simple fact that we might be able to provide a sense of hope and security in the lives of children who have none. With the dawning of this realization came the crashing reality that Luvin was no different than any one of our other children. He had a battered past that left little room for a hopeful future. He needed what we could provide…love, hope, security, and so much more. So yes he was back and we were going to make the most of it. We brought those three in and got them settled just in time for our next 3 to be dropped off. They are a family of 3. 2 girls and 1 boy. Danile age 4, Pamela age 10, and Fitto age 8. Again remember we have no electricity. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to have to walk into a new place full of new faces when you are that age. Let alone walking in when there is no electric. Feeling the need to explain her decision Jen sat down at the table with me and says “look you would have done the same thing.” J Good opener huh..I mean she knows me and we both knew it was true. She then goes on to explain that while sitting in the judges office the judge once again used her famous line and said “I’ve got 3 kids upstairs that need to be placed. Want to meet them?” She knows Jen almost as well as Jen knows me. She then gave the kicker. The kids were there because their mother had just been taken away for exploiting them. They were not only homeless but very much in need of some intense lovin! So she was right I would have done the same thing. The judge brought them in and within a matter of seconds the decision had been made. We were to become a house of 16. I might mention that they are ADORABLE. Their little faces hold this mixture of fear, torture, and desperation. They long to be held in a way that leads to nothing more than a tug on the heart strings. They long to have someone reach out to them and love them in a way they have never experienced. They long for safety and a promise that they never again have to be used as a meaningless tool of pleasure. I long to give them all that and more. I’ve been reminded time and time again why we are here. God is good….has a sense of humor for sure…but He is faithful. There are still moments when I stand back and think….oh gosh…there are 16 children here. However, when I see little Danile’s face light up as she comes running into my arms or feel Bryan’s hand in mine as he cuddles up next to me I’m reminded that it is all worth it.
Can I just say...Bryan and Rudy are FINALLY sitting at our table eating breakfast. I like that! :)

No comments: