Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Chalky Baptismal

The next day after the mobile clinic, I volunteered to stay at the post op clinic again. My days were growing fewer, and I longed to spend some quality time with the families I had formed relationships with. It was a very mellow day, I spent most of my time playing with the kids.

It's really charming how they never get tired of playing with the same toys. Every day..."machines", barbies, coloring books, board games, and my favorite...balloons (in Creole, "la blad"). Every day that I came in, little Joseph would reach for my hand and start saying, "Stephanie, la blad. Stephanie, la blad." Over and over again.

Also, thanks to Greg and Patricia, I now effectively know how to manage a three-year-old tantrum. Which is a good thing, because one of the kids threw a hissy fit when I told him that we were out of balloons. But at the end of our bargaining match, he was just as content with a "machine."

Most of our days were very hot, especially in direct sunlight. But thankfully we had some shaded area. On this particular day, I wanted to inspire the children's creativity and get their minds working. Actually, one of my main goals while I was there was to get everyone's minds working and into some kind of routine, since everything they know had been crushed. So, the director of the orphanage spent some time encouraging the moms and dads to bathe their children, change them and all take turns washing the sheets on the beds (we didn't have any extras). It was quite difficult to get people motivated and take responsibility but in the end we had at least made some progress. We were really trying to foster a sense of community among the families that would be staying here for quite some time.

One of our team leaders had found some sidewalk chalk in the donations. I was thinking to myself, "What child doesn't like sidewalk chalk?" I became sad as I thought about the fact that most of the kids wouldn't be able to chalk because they couldn't get out of their beds. Oh well, we'll just have fun with the kids that can.

Then came the challenge. The only place I could get approval to sidewalk chalk was in the blazing sun on the side of the guest house. None of the kids wanted to chalk because it was too hot. As I scrambled to think of other ideas (I was really desperate to make this happen), I noticed an outside baptismal with four walls. I ran in and asked for permission to chalk the baptismal. The first step was that I had to teach the kids what sidewalk chalk was and how to use it. I handed to them and immediately got blank stares. Silly me.

As I started passing out the chalk, all of the kids started to screech with excitement and then it occurred to me that we now had a standing 4 sided structure to chalk on! This meant that we could pull all of the cots over to the wall and each child (even the bedridden ones) could sidewalk chalk! I laughed to myself, again...thinking that in the first place I had the perfect plan figured out. wasn't so perfect. And nothing went how I planned. :) Isn't God so good? He made a way for all of His children to enjoy the creativity placed in them by their Father. As we pulled each cot over to the wall, I witnessed some of the most joyful expressions I have ever seen. The kids were so excited!

The kids all had a great time, and then afterwards we all sat around the baptismal and talked. One of the dad's is a police officer and spoke English quite well. He began to ask me about how long I had known Jesus. I was able to share a little bit of my testimony as well as talk about Jesus and who He is. Now I don't know if anyone else could speak English, but this whole scenario drew quite a crowd and they all listened intently so they must have been hearing something. :)

At the end of the day, i walked over to my tent completely satisfied, and I realized why it is so easy for me to relate these people. They enjoy just being. They don't need to do anything. No one has to say the right thing, or be a certain way. They just simply love and enjoy one another for who they are. They laugh, and they sit in silence, and all is well.

Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the chalky baptismal. I was too busy just enjoying the day with my friends.

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