-- A child unexpectedly putting his little hand in mine as we walk from point A to point B.
-- A girl reaching her hands up to me, to give me a wildflower she just picked.
-- Laughing with the teenage girls over silly, teenage girl things.
-- Hugging children “good-night” before I head to dinner.
I truly love my job, my co-workers, and the kids I serve. They are a blessing. These experiences that I get to have are a blessing.
But there is a definite down-side that is painful to deal with for anyone who lives here – kids, tias, missionary staff.
We live in a home for children whose parents either cannot or should not take care of them. Many of these kids have been here for over a decade – for the whole part of their lives that they can remember. Other kids came when they were older children or teenagers – they remember what life was like outside.
This is their home for now. And this is our home for now. We get to love them. To hug them and to kiss them. To speak Jesus into them.
But we don't stay here forever, and neither do the kids. We don't know how much time we have with them. Every day is a gift.
Sometimes the kids leave, and oh, it breaks my heart when the opportunity to love them is taken from me.
In the 3 ½ years that I have been involved with Good Shepherd Children's Home, I have seen many kids arrive. I have been able to literally hold babies as they ride across the “threshold” of GSCH for the first time. I have been part of the welcoming committee for wide-eyed children who don't know what is in store for them at this new, strange home with new, strange, white people.
But I have also seen many kids leave. Kids whom I have loved. Kids whom my heart has cried for and been burdened for. Even as I write this, tears are welling up in my eyes. This reality is heart-breaking.
I still think about those kids. I see their empty desks; I miss their energy in my classes; I miss their hugs. I miss knowing exactly where they are. I miss being a part of their lives.
Even when I know that a child is going to a better home (with their parents, with a different children's center that can provide for their specific needs, etc.), it doesn't take away the hurt of knowing that I will no longer be able to see them and know for sure that they are okay.
It is the worst part of living here. But it forces me to know that God has a plan and that he will never leave them or forsake them. That is really the only thing I have when a child leaves -- my faith in my God, who is always loving us, always watching over us.
For weeks, my Elementary Music students have been learning a song called "God is Watching." They have been singing it loudly and proudly during Monday Music class, and the lyrics say this:
“God is watching, watching over you.
Twenty-four Seven. Watching over you.
Your life is in His hands, Woah Woah.
He's got great big plans,
'cause He's watching over you.”