Monday, June 6, 2011

to be known

The children that live at the Kaziba orphanage know me.  And I know them.  They are no longer photos of beautiful children.  They are known, and I am known.  I know that Sifa loves to play and smile.  Out of the 100s of photos I have, I can only find one where she is not smiling, and that was when we first started coming a year ago, when life was rough.  I know the day that Gloire took his first step.  I know when Chantal turned one year old, and I remember when she came as a newborn and all her amazing hair.  I know the day I caught Christian with the hugest smile on his face.  I know that Janvier loves me; that he loves to quietly come up to me and waits for me to notice him and then gives me the most special smile ever given me.  I know he loves to play peek a boo.  I know that Chikuru Kidada is very ticklish and gave up the first smiles I had ever seen on her 3 year old face when I learned that truth.  I know when she walked for the first time at age  2 1/2. I remember the day it hit me that she and her twin sister had been hiding their lovely, bubbly selves deep down inside where pain could not reach, yet they were there and began to bloom.   I know that Muholeza is quiet and sickly, but that she has a strong spirit that often looks out for the younger children.  I know the day I knew that Furaha would die and go on to live with Jesus.  I remember weeping in the quiet night at the pain and helplessness I felt.  I know when Moise was going to live and not die and I knew he was a miracle I was never to forget.  I know when Chito Wambili walked for the first time.  I know that Rachel and Ganza are strong and wise.  I know that Kenga and Leblanc love to jump in my arms and hold on tight.  I know that Noella loves to smile at me.  I know that baby Gloire has a smile that makes the angels sing.  I know that Safari is much loved and watches over the younger children, that he is ready to move out of the orphanage.  I know that Sandrine is not forgotten, that she will sit in my lap for hours.  I know that Chereba and Shagayo love to be thrown into the air.  I know that baby Moise has the most beautiful eyes of any baby I have seen.  I know that Benjamin is terrified by my white skin (still).  I know that Sabina mourns and her heart is long in healing; and that she is very well loved.  I know of three miracles named Jacob, Isaiah and Amani who came to the orphanage at 4 lbs and lived.  I know that when Nyota came to the orphanage as a newborn she was just as chubby as she is now, and that makes me so happy.  I know that the newest baby Zawadi is fighting to live, and has already gained weight, she is almost 4 lbs.  I know that my name from these children's lips sounds like "hotty', and that makes me smile.  I know that my heart will always miss these little ones who I have been privileged to know (and be known by) over the past year plus.  I know that I will always respect and admire the women and men who have struggled to care for these children with very little resources.  I know that I will never never pity a single one of these amazing children.  Never.  I know that my life has changed, that when they look at me with eyes of love and hope, that they know me, the good (the bananas, cookies, hugs), the bad (I leave), and yet still love me.  I am humbled and I am broken.  Who can pity the weak who are strong, the foolish and childlike who are wise?   Who can look down on those who rise above and who laugh when all seems lost, who bravely come out behind walls that protected them from suffering and harm?  Who can face such bravery and not be brave themselves?  Who am I to forget how my faith that was almost too weak to stand, was healed in a small forgotten home for babies far in the mountains in congo?  I am a witness to amazing events, to incredible, indomitable souls.  I will not forget.  I will not forget the arms that held me and knew my name, who welcomed me (running and jumping into my arms).  As I learn to let go and say goodbye, I realize I will never be able to let go, that they will be carried in my heart, always reminding me to stand in faith and courage.

4 comments:

Shauna said...

This is beautiful, Holly! What a blessing each of these children are.

mary said...

yes, beautiful writing - thanks for personalizing so many in such a short space - we love them with you and are jealous that you get to be loved back!

Ann said...

You are the hands and feet of Him who knows us most intimately, who knows the number of hairs on each of our heads, and who knows the number of our days. These children are precious to Him and you show them their worth in God's eyes by your love and care for them. Thank you for sharing your life with them, and their lives with us.

Angie R said...

Wow. beautiful. Thanks for helping us to know them too. I can see how tough leaving will be for you. Hopefully, you can focus on the good of being there when you can.