Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! It’s not actually a holiday they celebrate here, but I couldn’t let the day go unnoticed with our sweet little munchkins, so I made the two year olds each a heart to play with anyway! Some of them loved their hearts, others took bites of them, and some even broke them! As the New Year starts for us at the orphanages, we’re praising God for keeping us all healthy and safe. So far we’ve had no deaths, and we thank God for the healthy spell daily. We ended last year with 21 deaths, the majority of which were due to HIV/AIDS. It was a hard, terribly painful year in so many ways, and the losses never seem to get easier. I feel like a broken record every time I write home because I feel like my updates always have the same theme… the joy that living here and working with these children brings, but also the intense sorrow that is inescapable here. On those days where one of our babies dies, it provides great comfort knowing they are instantly in the arms of Jesus, and that they are past all pain and suffering and loss they experienced here. But the wounds of it don’t go away that easily, and the faces of all the ones that have died still haunt me, make me feel guilty, make me wonder what I could’ve done differently. It is a wonderful lesson in humility and trusting in God—I’m not the great healer, I’m not able to make them whole, and He’s not asking me to, either. That’s a great comfort to be reminded that He is God and I am not.
Here are a few pictures of some of our babies that have died in the last couple of months. (Note: I did not include these- Steve) The other side of all the sorrow that comes from working with orphaned children is the incredible joy and blessings they provide as well. They make me so full, and so happy, and I am blessed beyond measure by them. The good days are so good, and they help make the bad days easier to handle. It’s wonderful to come home from burying a baby to find new life, and to be able to see happy, well-adjusted, healthy babies as well (ones that draw with charcoal all over the walls and beds, ones that fall off tricycles and fracture their arms, ones that insist that their hair be made into afros, and other fun things like those…). From our two year olds, we’ve had ten babies transfer back to their villages this year where they will be raised by their extended family members in their villages. While it’s sad to see them go, it’s so wonderful to know that they’ll have the support and attachment to a family that they so desperately need. I’m going on Thursday to visit Sally in her village. She went home in November, and we haven’t gone to check on her yet. I pray we’ll find her healthy and well-fed. I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and your thoughts for me and all the children here. It means so much to me that I have the support of so many people back home. At the start of last year, I hooked each of our babies up with a prayer person in the States, someone who would commit to praying for that child every day. They don’t have moms and dads, and those are the people who are supposed to be fighting for them, praying for them. I know the difference the prayers of faithful people can make in these babies’ lives, and I would love to know that each one of them had someone bringing their name and their life before God each and every day. We have too many babies now (73!) and not enough people praying. If you would be interested in praying for one of these babies every day, please e-mail me and let me know. I’ll send you updates on them and let you know what specific things could be prayed for them. These are the ones that need a pray-er right now. Luyando- 7 month old boy Emily- 6 month old girl Timothy- 6 month old boy Jack- 3 month old boy Modia- 3 month old girl Bethany- 3 month old girl Daniel- 1 month old boy Cintia- 2 week old girl Peter- 2 week old boy Lydia- 1 ½ week girl Jerome- 1 day old boy I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and feel loved all day long! Thank you for the ways you bless my life, and the lives of these children.