Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Beauty in the brokenness - our orphanage visit

Thursday, our last full day in Hohhot, we spent driving about 3 hours each way to the city of Baotou. Baotou, named the city of deer, is where Stella spent the first 6 months of her life, so we wanted to visit the Baotou SWI which cared for her and her finding spot.  We came to China for her and to help piece together anything from her past.  Visiting the orphanage was an important part of that - one I had tried to prepare myself for way before this day.  You can see pictures of orphanages, read stories of others visits, hear about the children.... but nothing can prepare you for entering one for the first time.  I knew I would have a hard time dealing with what we would see and I was right.  I've been writing this post in my head for almost a month now... wondering how I could put to words everything we saw.

Leaving the hotel, praying in my head for God to make us His hands and feet today and always.  He broke our hearts for the fatherless and what I wanted to do most is let the children feel His love from us. As Stella's Mama, I also wanted to protect her on this day and keep her secure. The drive was beautiful with the mountains alongside the highway and apricot tree blossoms blooming. Baotou is a beautiful city and the orphanage was on the other side of the city.  As we pulled in the first thing that captures your eye is the black metal gate where babies are often left and the colorful flags on top. Such irony.

I've tried many times to put words to our visit and this is what I want to remember most about that day.  The beauty.  The beauty in the brokenness.  We live in a broken world, full of tragedy, trauma, sadness.  But see - there is beauty here everywhere I looked.

Beauty in an orphan made a daughter. Held close in her carrier, we viewed the orphanage together. Snuggling close whenever a nanny approach her.  She only wanted Mama even through the little packaged french breads they offered her.  Spoiling her by holding her - this is what they chided me for - but no, just protecting her heart on this day.

Beauty in the nannies smiles. They all wanted to see Stella, the child they had cared for and remembered. She is so beautiful they said and they wanted to touch her.

Beauty in the nannies souls.  Loving on the children in their care. For how long? Maybe a lifetime (some will never be adopted or leave), maybe a few months (some, sadly will die here), maybe a year or two (some will find families of their own again). What hearts these precious women have! We were told they love the children from the bottom of their hearts and I could see this in every one we talked to.

Beauty in the sunshine that flooded the baby room. Filled with little wooden cribs, and seeing where Stella slept, emotions overcame.  I saw the beauty, and yet, I felt the enormous weight, the burden of being an orphan. The little babies too sick to be held. Deep breath. How will we ever forget them? We won't.  Our Emme Rose was a sick little baby in an orphanage not that long ago.  How do we help them? Sometimes all we can do is pray from afar for Jesus to intervene and take them home. I prayed over the little one with his head so swollen from hydrocephalus to be helped.

Beauty in an orphan's smile as she sat in her nannies lap in the colorful playroom. How that little girl smiled at us and completely captured our hearts! Melissa asked to hold her....gently, being so very careful of her head and back.  Gentleness...please feel loved sweet baby girl. Coming to my knees, even with Stella strapped to me, I had to touch them and let them know they were loved.

Beauty in children in the dining hall eating noodles from metal bowls.  Tummies full.

Beauty in language unspoken. Communicating through love of children. I knew just what she was saying even before the translator could come over to help us.  These two girls - same age - and this nanny had cared for them both.  One for just a short time, the other still.  One short haired an orphan child and the other - my daughter with her full head of black hair.  How did one get chosen to leave and the other to stay? So many whys.

Beauty in the child that stayed.  Beauty in the child that left.
"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. 

There was so much brokenness in this day and so much beauty as we brought in the love of Jesus. Our world is so broken, yet He has not forgotten a single child of His.  There is beauty in trusting in Jesus.

Way on the other side of Baotou, near the factories, is the hospital where our daughter was left.  I'm never sure what word to use to describe the act of leaving a child.  Is it "given up" or "abandoned"? All our paperwork in China says she was "abandoned" here by the hospital gate.  Imagine the heartbreak of doing either.  Answers to her questions about why she was left here will be so very hard to answer.  The street was busy the day we visited and the guards in a booth by the gate, eyed us closely.  Our visit rushed because of their questioning looks and our guide wanting us to make it quick.  She didn't want any trouble with them as she had words with them on another occasion.  Not at all how I imagined visiting the finding spot.  Wouldn't it have been neat to meet the guard who found her and try to learn more about that day? Yes, of course.  When the questions come, I pray that  maybe someday, Stella will see the beauty in this as well....someday she will hopefully understand and know that she wouldn't be our precious, wanted daughter, if she had never been left here.  I want to make sure she knows that this place exists and is part of her past.  But that her beauty, that God gave her, overshadows the brokenness. She is so very beautiful - perfectly and wonderfully made. 

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal". 2 Corinthians 4:18

1 comment:

  1. Lisa, this was so beautiful written, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your journey!-Elizabeth


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