Monday, September 20, 2010

Sore Arms:::Broken Hearts

When you hold a statistic it becomes real.

We knew when we moved to Haiti that there were over 500,000 orphans in this country prior to the earthquake.  God is literally the only one who knows what that number is today.


When we toss around that statistic, it seems big, but numbers are cold.  In lots of ways they are dead.  They are impersonal and lifeless.  Black and white with rough edges.

We forget that inside that figure are fingers and toes.  A little soul.  Two sad eyes.  A tiny mouth.  A heart longing to be rescued and loved.

We held a statistic this weekend.

We sat with one piece of that number in our arms.

A stiff, stoic number all of sudden became soft, warm, weak, and needy.

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, that statistic came alive in our arms this weekend and we have wept over it.

A four week old baby girl from an orphanage nearby.

Her mother died at birth.

A lot of orphans in Haiti are not true orphans.  Many have parents.  Those parents simply can’t take care of their babies.

This baby is a true orphan.

All we’d have to do is say the words, and she could stay here with us.  We could take care of her and possibly adopt her one day.

And yet I’m terrified.

Adoption in Haiti is a nightmare.

It can take a very long time, especially if you do everything legally.

To say yes to this baby would mean probably saying no to going home to the US for Christmas and the summer.  It would mean staying here for much longer than I am prepared to commit to at this time.

It’s been an emotional weekend.

A few months ago I lived far away from this country.  Crazy how you can live far away from a country you don't actually live very far away from.  I lived far away from statistics like “500,000.”  I could almost pretend that fatherless children did not exist in real life.  I could walk around with my eyes closed tricking myself into believing that everyone around the world lived just like me.

I said “No” to the world's helpless babies every day when I lived in the States.  I said, “Who cares.”  I said “Not my problem.”  I said, “I love my own comfort and safety more than I care that unheard of numbers of children…living numbers…are suffering every single day.”  “It’s sad, but I’m not giving up my life to do something about it.”
I did not say those things out loud.  But with my actions…with my life…I was screaming those words.

Things change once you hold a statistic in your arms, look her in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry.  No one wants you.”

There are a million and a half reasons why it’s not smart to say “yes” to a baby in Haiti.

There are a million and a half questions that I wish could be answered.

Like at what point do you have to say no?  At what point is your home full?  At what point is enough, enough?  How long would this really take?  How long Oh Lord?  How long?

And yet we are literally grieving over this baby.

Aaron held this tiny girl in his arms.  Blinking back the tears he said, “I know there are a million reasons not to do this, and maybe we shouldn’t.  But here is a tiny baby girl with no parents.  She doesn’t have parents.  How do we say no to her?”

For now she is back at the orphanage with 43 other kids.

We’re praying, asking God for wisdom.

Asking for faith.

This has been so painful this weekend.  What I want to do is close my eyes and pretend it all away.  I didn’t want to have to deal with the orphan issue so quickly in this country.  But Haiti has a way of not letting you ease into anything.  Haiti throws you in the deep end and forces you to swim.

Aaron and I know that no matter if God wants this baby in our home or not, it is time for us to hold that giant statistic in our lap…it’s time to face it…to talk about it. 

I know many of you are going to be moved by this baby’s story.  I love you guys for that.  I know you will read this and pray with us and hurt for us, but here’s what I need you to not do…

Please do not say, “Oh…I’d take her in a second.  I want her.  I would take in all those babies in Haiti.”
Because what we mean when we say something like that is, “If they could all come to the US, I’d take them.  If I could stay here near Target, in a house with AC and hot water…then I’d do something about the orphan crisis in Haiti.”

Well that’s not an option.  Most of these kids can’t come to the US.  None of them can come to the US any time soon.  Not in time to save their lives.  Adoption is great.  We love adoption.  But adoption is not a viable option for a large number of the orphans in Haiti.

It is easy to read a post like this, see the picture of that sweet baby girl and say, "I'll take her.  I want her."  

But that’s where things get tricky right?

Tricky because to have her, you may have to move here.  To keep her, I'd have to stay here in Haiti for a lot longer than I was planning to stay.  Tricky because the hard, terrible truth is there are 500,000 kids like the one in the picture who are helpless and hurting, but to care for them you'd have to come to them instead of them coming to you.  In no time at all, you could fill up a house in Haiti with children who need a mom and a dad.  You'd probably have to leave your home to make a dent in the orphan issue in Haiti.  You'd have to leave the US.  I'd have to stay in Haiti.

To care for the orphan in places like Haiti the church is going to have to get dirty and hot.

That’s when we’d have to really be living for a Kingdom we can’t see, because caring for the orphan…rescuing children like this baby in this picture will take more than words or even money.

It would take our very life or at least a huge chunk of it.  It would take a life long fast from the things of this earth.

I wish the answers were simple, pretty, and easy.  Haiti is teaching me that following Jesus is rarely any of those things.

As I held that sweet baby this weekend there was a moment when I was so grieved that tears were dropping from my eyes onto her little onesie   I was hurting for her...ashamed of all the excuses I was making...mourning this world that is so incredibly broken.  Coming to grips with the fact that I live in a country where a baby is handed to me and someone says, "Do you want her?"  It was hard to admit that I've always lived a few hours from this country, from babies just like this one and yet I managed to ignore them.  As I cried over this baby the only words I could think to say were, "Please Jesus.  Please hurry up and come back.  Please fix this."

And so we continue to hurt today.  Our arms are sore.  We held "500,000" this weekend.  That number is awfully heavy.

"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29)."


Teri said...

Wow. There are no words for this reality.

Gwen said...

Thank you, Heather, for your words. You have brought me to tears. Since reading your blog (starting at the beginning of the summer) God has used you to change my heart.

Praying for you and your family.

Much love,

Susanne said...

how heartbreaking. there is no way i could begin to make the decision to live in haiti and adopt the children there. My heart hurts for this reality.

aterilli said...

Dang Heather, I am either laughing hysterically at your posts or crying my eyes out. I really believe that if you would like to supplement your income you could be a writer (who gets paid). You are an amazing woman, while my junior in years, you are a mentor to all ages who read your blog. The Terillis in Saint Jo, love you guys and are praying for God's wisdom regarding this precious little one. God bless

Courtney said...

Like the other women who have commented, reading your blog has burdened me to pray for Haiti and for your family daily.

Your strength and dependence on the Lord is such an encouragement to me.

Susan, wife of 1, mother of 4 said...

Heather, there are no words. I'm praying for you and your family; I'm praying for me. I'm praying for the 500,000. This world is so broken, and yet, even if you took this girl, there are 499,999 others. You can't fix this, but God can. I'm praying for those poor, unloved, helpless babies that are so dependent on adults caring for them. There must be a solution that can help a chunk of them. I'm praying for God to reveal that to us. Thank you for sharing.

Melda said...

If little miss has a name, I would love to pray for her by name.
Praying for God's wisdom, strength and courage.
Love you much!

Amy said...

We have been praying for Haiti for some time now as we've been involved in supporting 3 kids thru

I love reading your blog because I can get a first-hand experience of what it would be like to be down there myself, which I don't know if that would ever become a reality (tho I would love it to) because of my horribly bad allergies.

I will pray for God to guide you in what to do while you're down there...

Thank you for letting us into your broken heart.


Anthony & Sharon said...

Read the recent Time magazine issue about Mother Theresa today. My heart ached over how she loved her Jesus and saw her Lord in the faces and broken lives of all those she ministered to.

I will be praying that you follow your Lord to do whatever it is he asks of you. "You.Did.This.To.Me." is what sweet little nun would say to remind those ministering of the words of Jesus about loving the poor and to compel others to reach out to the poorest of the poor.

You guys have already done more than most do, I pray the Lord honors that obedience and gives you peace and grace to follow him further as He leads. He is so good.

MamaofMany said...

Amazing post. Praying.

Robin said...

What a hard decision. Wow!

likeravensandlillies said...

I just started reading your blog and my heart is stretching to take in your last post. I pray that God blesses you with His peace. I can't imagine the cross that you and your husband have picked up. He will push through and give you an answer. I am praying for all of you as I write this.

Your sister in Christ-

D.O. said...

Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

I love y'all to death.

Cheryl said...

Ahhh, Heather....

You have put into words what I feel when I am in Haiti ministering to the women and children there. Even though I have two children that were adopted from Haiti six years ago, the desire to do more and help more has not gone away. This year alone, I have been to Haiti three times to do a teeny, tiny part in helping the 'least of these'.

Adoption is not the only option and many times it is not the best option for Haiti. That is why I continue to be so impressed with Heartline's programs that are aimed toward orphan prevention--giving moms and babies the physical care they need, the means to learn a trade and earn a living, etc.

Praying that God will continue to guide you as you seek His will for you in Haiti. Thank you for being open to His calling in your life.