Yesterday, Leo and I had the privilege of participating in a mission trip here in Bogota. Some friends (via facebook) were here working with the special needs orphanage that ECA partners with, and asked if we had time to go along with them. We jumped at the chance!
So, with 10 of us crowded into an 8-passenger van, we set off. We had a good 1 1/2 hours to get acquainted, get lost, find our way, and get to the orphanage, set high above the city. I’ve sent my students there over the years, but never had the chance to go myself, so this was a pain-free ministry to visit… still a productive trip as far as “work” goes, but no memories to hover over our time there. I was really in need of something like that.
Being a school day, most of the able-bodied kids were out studying. So, the only kids there were the severely disabled and the babies. As we walked into the room of the older kids, most of whom couldn’t move much besides their faces, it was a little hard to take in. Bones twisted, faces contorted, drooling, snot, i-v feeding tubes, complete helplessness. But, as we walked around and greeted each child, some responded to our touch on their exposed arms or their foreheads. Others smiled with wide eyes gazing into ours. One little blind boy just started giggling hearing us come closer. He was so precious!
One little girl, about 8 years old was being fed her lunch in a high-chair. As Becky and I came closer, she just started laughing and laughing. We smiled back, and then out from underneath the tray, she pulled a Bratz doll with brown eyes and blonde hair. She handed it to me with her one good hand, and pointed to the doll and then to me…. then to the doll and to Becky. We realized that she thought we looked like her precious little bratz doll because of our hair and eye color. So smart that one!
We finished with our greeting and then continued with our tour around the complex. Clean. Shining. Smelling of disinfectant. Hundreds of items of clothes hung on the lines to dry. Pictures on the walls of this beautiful 150-member family. Crosses. Teddy bears. Therapy rooms. Dentist chairs. Playground. Sunlight. Beauty.
Our tour left us on the very top floor with the babies. Beautiful lives born to horrible situations of abuse and abandonment. Blind, deaf, contorted, stiff, smiling babies. We held, played, tickled, sang with and loved on these precious little ones. Leo said that he knows he truly saw miracles and angels.
Right before lunch, while we were checking out the dentists’ office, Becky was standing on a chair to get a better look and then jumped off, rolled her foot saying she heard something “pop”. We called the physical therapist who was there working with the kids, and she said that we definitely needed to take her to the hospital. Leo and I split up the group, called the driver, and Leo was off with Becky, her husband, and Brooke to the emergency room. As we were talking with the care-takers about how the rest of us could get home later on, they confirmed that as long as something didn’t happen with one of the kids, we would have a ride.
Then, stories about how many of the kids have been told they were going to die, but yet lived for years… other kids with emergency situations who died in the hospital waiting rooms because no one saw the value of their life… doctors with compassion whose hands were tied up in hospital politics. Our conclusion: they need a hospital or doctors on staff for their kids. People who see the same value in these precious little lives.
My afternoon was filled with 2 little girls. Lina is an older black girl who can’t move anything besides her face. Her beautiful chocolate eyes widen as you get close, and her smile shows off all of her beautiful white teeth… even the ones in the back. I sat with her as she laid on her bean-bag and sang, clapped, smiled, talked, and prayed over her. Her bones were so twisted that I didn’t know which leg was which, and although her body was lifeless, her face was full of expression and life. She was beautiful.
As I was sitting with her, all of a sudden Camila came scooting over to me. I didn’t know her disability earlier when I saw her in the high-chair, but now I could see that she had braces on her legs, and used her one good arm to propel herself wherever she needed to do. She sat close, and one of the nurses said that she wanted to walk with me. So, I lifted her up, held her by her fore-arms, and we walked and danced. We both laughed and laughed. It seemed that she didn’t care where we went, she just wanted to walk… so we went back and forth in the huge space. My back was killing me after about 30 minutes of this, so I told her that I needed to sit down. She didn’t seem to like that, until I told her that we were going to race. I scooted myself all over that floor, up, down, around, taking short-cuts around the different kids in their wheely chairs. We were laughing so hard! It was amazing.
We had time to talk with “Hermana” before we left. She took us to the manager’s office, and as the door opened, we saw that it was a little chapel. She said “this is request and complaint department”. She said that absolutely nothing in this orphanage would happen without time spent with the “manager”. She went on to tell us that years ago, when she felt like the Lord was calling her to open a home for children, she sat in the corner and said, “God, if you want me to do this, You’re in charge. You are responsible for feeding these kids, You are responsible for bringing them to me, You are responsible for everything they need. You do those things, and I will love them and be a good steward of what you give me.” 1,000 kids, 7 homes, a special-needs school, a farm, and a vacation home with a pool and facilities for the kids later, all because of God’s faithfulness.
She is the Mother Teresa of Bogota.
There are stories after stories of miracles, provision, changed lives, heart-break, difficulty and success, and she knows it’s all the Lord’s. They’re His kids, it’s His work. She’s just a lady loving the least of these the best way possible.
I’m SO excited that our 9th graders are going to be partnering with this ministry for the next 3 years. Lives are going to change.
Oh, and one more thing:
22 years ago, Hermana adopted a little girl whose mom threw her up against the wall when she was 2 months old because she wouldn’t stop crying. This little para-plegic girl who can’t do anything but make noises and use her eyes to communicate is going to graduate from high-school this year. She wants to study medicine and start a school for others like her. There is a special computer with a special program where people just like her can read books and then turn the pages of the books with their eyes. She’s been tested and is more than capable to use this program.
The world is open to her.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen. 50:20