Making the Sky

 June 9, 2011

Today proved to be a very emotionally difficult day for me.

Going on a mission trip and visiting with special needs orphans while I'm waiting for my own child to come home from her special needs orphanage hit me hard and unexpectedly.... like a big ole sucker punch in the gut.

We finally made it to the Chen Zhou SWI and this morning we spent the day meeting with the orphanage Director, touring the facility and rocking babies. The Director was welcoming and the nannies seem to work hard and care for the children here. The facility is clean and fresh and all and all a nice facility (as much as any orphanage can be "nice" and for as much as we could hope that what we saw was typical.)

The babies and toddlers were (no surprise) darling. We got to spend several hours with them in the morning. Some were happy and willing to come to us right off while others started to cry at the sight of us.

Who can blame them? What a sight we must be to them; a pack of baby snatching, white faced foreigners with cameras aimed straight at them.

Our first morning was exhausting.  Not sure if it was the jet lag or the emotional stress of finally getting to the orphanage but I was glad when at 11am the babies went to lunch and naps.... and so did we.

We returned to the orphanage at three o'clock this time to visit with a classroom of "older" kids. The children were age 4 through 8 and each had obvious disabilities. At first we thought there were boys and girls in the class but we were informed that despite the cropped hair and boyish looking clothing they were in fact all girls.

I'm getting them all hair bows before I leave this place! Shallow, silly, superfluous? 
You bet but EVERY GIRL should feel pretty. 

We decided to do a craft project with them that involved gluing cotton balls and glitter to a blue piece of paper...we were "making the sky".

I thought our project might not keep their attention but I was quickly corrected. We spread out a Disney princess table cloth and that alone drew "ooohs" and "aaaahs" from our young crowd, (one child clapping and shrieking in unbridled joy) .

Instantly I realized what I should have known all along: these were not my kids (accustomed to a
routine trip down the Target toy aisle) they were institutionalized kids and ANYTHING novel would be received with wide eyed amazement.

The simple joy of a pink table cloth... 

I already had a lump in my throat.

One little girl who was the most severely disabled sat motionless at the corner of the table. She was older apparently brought from another room. Her body contracted so that her head folded down to her
knees and it appeared she had cerebral palsy though I could not be sure as none of the nannies knew her medical need or sadly even her name.

While the other children moved towards the art materials this little girl stayed still her head bent to her knees. I knelt beside her and lifted her hand to the table. To my surprise she responded right away by sitting up and moving her hand. She WANTED to play just like the other girls she just needed help

And so...

we made the sky together.

As we were finishing she (my girl with no name) reached forward and dropped her hand onto mine.  Her movements were clumsy and spastic and yet she seemed to do it intentionally but I wasnt sure until... she squeezed my hand.

And then I knew.

She could not talk but she could communicate.

A heart full of love to share.

I was caught off guard when the tears surged through me and I had to get up and leave the room to compose myself.

The babies were very cute but I think I was meant to meet THIS child. One with a more severe but similar condition as our daughter who was waiting for us just to the south of this place. This sweet child beside me was an angel sent by God to cast away the nagging fears I had about parenting a child with CP.

And, I know that I can handle anything that lies ahead.

Even if Mia never talks or is significantly delayed I've learned that communication, LOVE, can be found in the simple squeeze of a hand and I now know that is good enough for me.

Such a blessing from a gentle girl I will forever call, "Sky".

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