I met an orphan today.
I don't think I'll ever forget her face:
These beautiful children welcomed us today into the Compassion Child Sponsor Program about an hour outside of Nairobi. Their faces glowed as they sang and danced for us.
There are 3o3 children at this project who are helped by Compassion. They are fed a balanced meal weekly at the local Anglican church, educated, visited in their homes and watched over. Compassion steps in immediately if they see a child or their family become highly vulnerable.
I sat down on a bench and she scooted towards me. "What is your name?"
In perfect English, "My name is Susan. I am 12."
She looked at me. I mean, really, looked into my eyes with a question in hers and then she blurted out, "Can I touch your hair?"
Automatically, my hand found my gnarled curls. I haven't been blow drying my hair straight, so it's a bit wild and I thought she might be intrigued by The Crazy.
"Yes, you may touch my hair." She stood behind me and I felt her hands tangle in my hair. She smoothed it out, scrunched it up, all while lightly caressing it. (I wanted to say 'a little to the left' because it felt really good!)
She tried braiding my hair and after a few minutes she gave up saying, "I think something is wrong with your hair. I can't braid it." Oh Susan, you are a wise one.
She sat down again and I returned the favor, lightly touching her neat rows of perfectly braided her.
Again, her eyes found mine and she questioned, "Can I touch your skin? It is so white."
This time I could only nod as she gently touched my arms and
then my legs peeking out from my cropped pants.
"You are the first white woman I have touched," she said in an almost hushed voice.
[Dramatic pause because I almost cried]
"Would you like to see a picture of my children?" I asked.
"Oh, yes!" she said as I dug a photo from my backpack and the other children gathered around. "They are so beautiful. So white."
I told her that our next family picture would have another child,,, perhaps with skin like hers.
She placed her hand over mine.
Little did I know that Susan was one of the eight children deemed highly vulnerable by Compassion. She is an orphan.
But she is loved by her grandmother, a widow, raising her and three other orphans. Her grandmother is 66 years old, outliving the life expectancy of the average Kenyan woman by nearly two decades. When Compassion found her, the grandmother couldn't walk, was in extremely poor health due to the stress of raising four orphans on a widow's mite.
Compassion has made all the difference for this little family.
They have returned their dignity by aiding them in the most practical ways: improving their pathetic home into livable space, helping to grow a garden, providing job skills and money to start a business and so much more.
(the wall of her home)
I'd say there is more joy and contentment in their tiny home than in most of ours.
We packed up to leave and Susan caught my eye. We had already said our goodbyes, but she gave me the same questioning look. I nodded. She ran from the playground (funded by Compassion), and climbed into our van. She threw her arms around my neck.
We held one another. It was like she knew I would mother an orphan one day and understood that I needed one more hug. Or maybe she needed a hug from a mother.
Hot tears mixed with hot water as I washed away the dirt from the streets of Kenya back at our hotel. I couldn't erase away the feelings and the emotions of poverty and human suffering of such great magnitude.
But I don't think I'm supposed to.
But I don't think I'm supposed to.
I want to feel it all. I want my heart to break with what breaks the heart of God.
I want to do hard things. I'm asking you to get uncomfortable. I'm asking you to stretch further than you'd like. I'm asking you to do something hard, bigger than you imagined, greater than you planned.
I'm asking you to give up a few fast food meals a month, to take a second look at your family budget, to sponsor a second child or a third. I'm asking you to give until it hurts.
Because it's in that place of being stretched that God will meet you and bless you. I believe He throws open the windows of Heaven and pours out more than we can handle when we care for the widows and the orphans.
James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
I'm asking you to rescue a child from the grips of poverty.
Jesus says that is true religion.
Please, click here to see children waiting for a sponsor. Children just like Susan. There are twelve children from today's project needing a sponsor. They need you. I'd love for my friends and family and blog readers to sponsor all 12 of them.