Today was "child protection day" so there were lots of visitors and celebrations going on at the orphanage. When we got to Mia's room we were invited in. Her caregivers are so sweet and we can tell they really do care abut her. They are getting more comfortable with us around and they even motioned for us to come in and sit down today. We got to visit with some of the other children and walked around to each of their cribs and the playpen where most of them are. One little girl, N, was so sweet! She just smiles and smiles when you talk to her and she reached out and took my hand and just held it....smiling the whole time. We learned that she is also 4,although she looks like the size of a baby and she can not stand up. It appears she may have use of her upper body but not her lower body...I don't know. Knowing she is 4 just made me more heartbroken because she is really living on borrowed time here before she will be moved to an institution. There were two other little girls walking around a little bit, although the one had some major balance issues and would fall down a lot. Both of these girls were in the dresses we normally see Mia in and both of them came over to us and played with us. We had brought bananas and cookies for all the kids and when we gave them to the caregivers they were very appreciative and then they came over to us with their hot water pot/coffee maker and started telling us something about it. We gathered that they needed something for it so we called our facilitator so she could translate. It turns out they were telling us that it had burned out this morning and it is what they need to heat the water for the children so we were more than happy to help them buy a new one, but had no idea how to so we had Angelina tell them that we would just give them some money and they could go buy one. They agreed and not 5 minutes later one of the ladies was heading to the store. She came back while we were still there and showed us the pot and kept thanking us for it and pointing at the kids explaining this is why they were crying because they could not warm their water. It was nice to help them and see that it indeed got used for something for their groupa.
A few ladies showed up when we first got there this morning and they had brought little stuffed animals for the kids. One of them spoke a little English which was very nice! She translated to us that the ladies were telling us we could take Mia upstairs to the music room for the celebration. So we did. It was FULL of men and woman and there were piles of donations in the foyer. We gathered that these were all people who donate and support the orphanage. Soon the same kids who were dressed in costume at the performance the other day came in and put on a show for everyone, apparantley these are the kids in the "orphanage performing group" LOL! Mia was really excited and clapping and smiling watching the show, but we could tell she had no idea what to do when she was supposed to sit on a lap and watch something for more than a few minutes. There was even lots of media there filming and taking photos.
After the show we went back to her group and spent the rest of our visit there. They have a little entry room that we played in
Some of the time we were visiting with the other children in the main room. I walked up to the playpen to talk to the children and this little boy kept reaching his hands up to me saying "mama,mama" wanting me to pick him up. It was all I could do not to cry as I watched him reaching for me pleading for me to pick him up. If the nannies had not been busy talking to the other visitors, I would have asked them if I could hold him. I hope to be allowed to sometime.
Another group of ladies, older ladies, came in with gifts and treats for the kids and we could hear the main caregiver telling them about Mia and her mama and papa. They talked for awhile longer and we went back into the entry room with Mia.
As the ladies were leaving we experienced one of the most memorable tender mercies yet. The last little lady to walk out was a cute grandma, maybe 75 or so. She had on a little babooshka scarf on her head and walked with a cane. she came up to me with tears flowing down her cheeks and crossing her chest in gratitude and praise to God, she wrapped her arms around me and kissed me over and over on the cheek. Our eyes connected and we both wept together. I didn't have to understand the words that she was speaking to know that she was thanking us from the bottom of her heart for saving this little girl.
Even now as I type I am crying. She cared and she was thankful that Mia was going to have a family and be given a life. It was a testament to me that there are many people here who do care, and who do think these children are worth saving, even though their society says differently. I had to turn around for a minute to stop Mia from heading out the door with the other visitors and when I turned around I saw this lady talking to Kris and he too had tears. He gathered she was saying something abut her sister and she held up the number 2 on her fingers so we think maybe her sister had 2 children with special needs. Maybe they too had to be given up at birth and maybe it just hit even closer to home for this sweet lady. Who knows, but what we do know is that she cared deeply and that she was sincerely grateful to us for coming for Mia.
I wanted so badly to hold onto that moment and to talk with this lady longer and to be able to know the details of what she was saying but this brief exchange has forever changed me. I will NEVER forget the look in her eyes and the deep love and emotion that we shared for that 2 minutes. It surpassed all language barriers at that moment. It truly was a tender mercy that I would have missed out on had we gone home today.
After the ladies left we stayed for the rest of our visit and the nannies kept coming in to play and laugh at what Mia was doing with us. Mia would take her things in to show them and then she would smile and run back to us. When it was time for us to leave Mia was not happy. This was the first time we have really seen her fighting about staying behind. She kept taking our hands as we would try to leave and she would take us back over to the couch and motion for us to sit down. She has no problem going back into the room, she just wants us to stay there with her. It made it much harder to leave her.
We introduced pretzels to her today. At first she had no idea what she was supposed to do with them. She tried using them as drumsticks. Then once we showed her how to eat them, she went to town. She is like a little chipmunk shoveling them in as fast as she can and keeping them inside her cheeks until she can't fit another piece in there.
When we went back to get her for the afternoon visit we walk in the room and she was at the other side of the room in the arms of one of the nannies and she only had her little hat and a diaper cover on, and her shoes (I don't think they ever have their shoes off unless they are sleep) and she squirmed out of the nannies arms and squealed and RAN to us! She gave me the biggest hug she has yet and just wouldn't let go. Then she turned to the nanny and touching my chest she tried to say mommy. When she noticed Kris she did the same to him and said papa! The nannies just can't get over how much she loves her papa. One of the helpers spoke a tiny bit of English and told us that the nannies knew that Mia would do fine with me and that she would get attached to me but they were,t sure about a papa and they just can,t get over how quickly and strong it happened for her with Kris.
Today I grew to love and appreciate these ladies. I feel of their good hearts as they are doing the best they can caring for these kids in this circumstance and I know they are going to miss our little Mia. I know they are happy to see she has found a family.
Yet another tender mercy we are getting to experience over the next week....we are getting to know a little about the ladies who have cared for our girl the last four years. The ladies who saw a light hidden inside her and kept her safe until we came for her. The ladies who have kept her until we could find her. They too are part of Mia Kareen's miracle. Had we gone home for the wait, we would never have known them like this.
There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle;
or you can live as if everything is a miracle.
There are miracles all around us and falling in love with this one orphan has been nothing short of miraculous every step of the way.
My friend Heather put it perfectly when she said "If you don't believe miracles still happen, just try falling in love with an orphan"
My heart is full tonight and I am overwhelmed with emotion as I realize the abundance of miracles we have been a part of over the last 6 months and I am especially grateful for the tender mercies today that reaffirmed that we are right where we are supposed to be.