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Monday, March 24, 2014

Street Kids and a Mommy's Heart

For almost a month now, I have had the distinct privilege of being a "mommy" to  a bunch of children who used to live on the streets.
As I get to know them, I truly can not believe they ever begged, dug in the trash for food, sniffed "rugby" from plastic bags and bottles or slept in public places in the day time while wandering most of the night.
They are CHILDREN just like yours and mine.  

Haircut Day for Mercy House! 

 They love to do many of the same things other kids their ages love to do.  They want to be outside playing ball, coloring with sidewalk chalk, trying their luck on the skateboard or roller blades or inside coloring and watching cartoons.

But they have borne heavy burdens in their young lives and there are scars.
The children, in the first few days of coming into Mercy House,  showed us what the heart of an uncared-for child  looks like,up close.
                                                                  And it was a bumpy transition.

They fought and argued with one another over EVERYTHING from who got the "red cup" to who took the first shower.  They had absolutely no idea how to play with toys.  They simply hoarded, sat on and hid the things they liked and did not play but protected the items fiercely.
They over ate at every meal.
They stood stiffly when hugged and did not come to us for affection or help with anything.

One of our boys, who has a history of using inhalants to get high had a very challenging experience when our handymen were here. One of them brought with him "vulcaseal", the very item our boy used to inhale to get high when he was living on the streets.  One of our older sons saw this young boy staring at the can of vulcaseal and said to him  "what are you staring at?". 
Our new boy began to cry hysterically and say in his language, "I don't want any!  I wasn't going to get any!" over and over as he ran to the other side of the yard, sunk down and sobbed.
I did not understand his reaction then and, to be honest, I don't understand it now.
Most of the kids who inhale "rugby" here do it because the high over rides the hunger pains. 
Maybe our boy was just having a flashback to what it was like to be hungry. Maybe he was missing the streets. Maybe he was thinking of the friends and siblings he left behind from those days.  We may never know.  He didn't want to say. And that's alright.

Just this week, this very boy has started to open up.  He shared with me some of what he endured on the streets. He talked about the abuse his sister suffered at the hands of a drunk relative- abuse that he witnessed.
He has started to hug me first.
He let me hold him when he was crying and he came to me with a scraped foot! 

And I am trying to figure out how to draw lines and boundaries with these children.  Our hope for all of them is that there is a capable, loving relative who can care for them in the future.  We are meant to be more permanent than the shelter where the police bring the children but still temporary.   If they are declared legally abandoned in court and then become available for adoption, we will work with a partner agency that is licensed to place. 

Two of the children at Mercy House have started to call us "Mommy" and "Daddy".  I know, this is not good.  I didn't like the idea of any of my adopted children calling their former caregivers those names.  I should correct these two.  But they hear my other children calling us these names and I feel cruel saying they are not allowed to do the same.  But it seems confusing to let them.

What if nobody ever comes for them . . . ?  
What if somebody does . . . ?

But my mother's heart is struggling not to make promises or declarations.

I love these kids.  Is it okay to tell them that?   I hope so.  I already did.

Zeke and Ky with 5 of the MH kids

But in all of the learning and wondering and the throes of the daily schedule - which goes from slightly crazy to all-out chaos to a few minutes of peace toward the end of the day, I have to ask myself that t-shirt worn cliche
"what would Jesus do?".

Then it becomes more clear. 
He would love with reckless abandon.  He would say "I love you" to the hurting child. He already has and He's using me to do it, too. 
He would let them call Him "daddy".  Because we already do.  And we have earthly fathers and there's no confusion there as to who is whom.  He would assure them that they are safe in His care.  We know WE are.   He would remind them how beautiful and valuable and pleasing they are to Him, even when they stray.  He tells me that in His word.

So I pray my Mother's Heart for the street child is in keeping with His heart for me.  As flawed and imperfect as I am, I am asking Him to love the street child through us.  To show us what that looks like on a practical, day-to-day level and to keep the boundaries in place.

We are learning but this is no pilot program.

These are lives, real and precious.

Lord, make us your hands and feet and keep us from doing any harm.

For YOUR great fame.

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