I have a hard time reconciling how I live in the same world as the children of First Love orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya. While I struggle with things like busyness, materialism and apathy, they are struggling for food, housing and education. But when we are together, we immediately find common ground in three things: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is Love.
We just spent our Spring Break at an oasis, a refuge. For me, it’s from my busy American life of raising a child, working at my career and trying to find purpose in my everyday circumstances. For the children, the escape is from poverty and suffering. They are not the same, yet we both find peace and restoration inside the compound walls.
We hadn’t seen our friends in two years, but we remembered each other with strong hugs, bright eyes and big smiles. Serving at First Love was soothing to my soul. Turning the jump rope, coloring, playing Uno and frisbee. Pushing them on the swing and blowing bubbles for hours. These simple things filled my heart with joy.
On our last night, I sat with a girl the same age as one of my nieces. She struggled with uncontrollable tears and showed me her journal in the hope that I could help her write her story. Her mother died and she watched as her father was murdered. These are things I know nothing about, but I read her writing and saw hope. I know she has faith in something bigger than this world, and I promised her she will heal.
Although these kids have often come from slums, broken homes and even witnessed their parents’ death, they can find hope here. I toured the new counseling room with a trained staffer who meets with them and offers group, individual and play therapy. We rode on the bus with them to church and Luke attended Sunday School with his buddies, learning about the same Jesus he knows at home. We walked the halls of their schools, with shattered glass in the windows, 64 desks to a classroom, but grades at the top of their class through studying diligently every.single.night. There is good work being done in these children and I rest knowing they are in Good Hands.
And I count the days until we can return.