Few times in my life do I ever recall sweating like I was in this picture. Part of the reason is, I was standing in a two-room orphanage in the Republic of Congo with about 20 people and no fans.
The other part was Destin, the little boy I’m holding. He clung to me so tightly, for so long in that sweltering room, that we began melting together like a s’more.
Destin wore me out, but each time I shuffled him around trying to rest my arms, little worry lines grew on his forehead. He clutched my shoulders and whimpered as though his tiny protest, might prevent the inevitable.
The inevitable was, of course, me setting him down and heading back to the Big White Ship, to my big white life, where I have choices Destin can’t even imagine.
What kind of world is this? Setting those babies down, as they reached back up to us and cried, made me wonder if it was fair to pick them up in the first place. Oh Jesus help. This life is brutal.
Luckily, I’ve learned to drop to my knees when I get to thinking like that because, newsflash – it’s not all up to me to fix.
So on the way out, we paused in the Land Rover for a second and I prayed for all the things we can’t change. And of course we prayed for them too. Lord. Families please! Hurry!
Baby Creche is a program hosted by a Mercy Ships division called Mercy Ministries. For this program, they load up a dozen or so ship folks and head out to a state-run orphanage to hug some babies. Simple really. Humans need hugging. Especially baby humans who are abandoned on trash heaps or orphaned by AIDS.
At the orphanage, nine women, working around the clock in shifts of three, care for the children. While they do their best, they are outmatched by the need, and it’s clear by the way Destin clings, physical hunger hasn’t been his only concern. Cribs line the walls and you have to watch where you walk because the women leave babies sprawled out on the tile floor.
It’s not a bad idea, it’s cooler there.
This is my friend Heather holding a little boy named Malchiat.
Like Destin, it’s hard to guess Malchiat’s age because he is malnourished. He was on the brink when somebody found him in the market and brought him to the orphanage. The women nursed him and Mercy Ministries put him on a special and kind of expensive diet. Malchiat is putting on weight now, frankly, because Mercy Ships is in Congo providing him a kind of expensive diet.
But the ship pulls out in June.
“What happens then?” I asked my friend KJ.
“I don’t know,” she said quietly.
So, in a big, mean world full of things we can’t change, here’s to the things we can. They need us, we need you and we all need each other. If you too would like to hug a baby on the other side of the world, we can help you do that.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
**As ever friends, the views herein are my own, not those of Mercy Ships.