I’ve just returned home from a visit to Jonathan’s House for Orphans in CAR, but the children won’t leave my mind.
Every one of our children have been through unimaginable circumstances in their young lives. Some lived on the streets. Some have seen their parents being executed. Others lived in the forest for months after the terrors of war came to their villages. Each of them have struggled to survive. I’m sure there were days when each of them wondered how they would get through another day.
After what must have seemed like an eternity, something happened. They were rescued.
Upon arrival at the orphanage, our staff takes a photo of each child. I always study these photos carefully. Although every child is different, they all have the same look on their face when they arrive. It’s a mixture of scared, lost, and completely exhausted. These children have been disappointed by adults over and over again. Perhaps disappointed is too kind of a word. Horrified might be more appropriate. I think that the children come to Jonathan’s House expecting that this place will just be another agonizing chapter in a terrible storybook that won’t end.
Initially, some of our children hide food in their pockets during meals save for later. After a while, they learn that they will receive three healthy meals every day, and this behavior disappears. Life at Jonathan’s House is quite different than what they have known before. The children have a regular daily routine. They are clean and healthy. They attend church and school. They know that they are loved. They believe that they have potential to do more than just survive. They begin to flourish.
These are some of the most amazing children that I have ever known. They have endured much. They ask for very little and they appreciate what they have. They are kind, patient, and wonderful. They exhibit so many qualities that I wish I had more of. Because I know them, I’ll never be the same.