Friday i went to an orphanage for the first time. Before we left i wasn’t excited. On the way there i wasn’t excited. While we were waiting for the kids to come play i wasn’t excited. i was tired and impatient and not in the mood for cranky kids to crawl all over me. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t work according to the mood of a tired, nineteen year old missionary (you should all be thankful for that, really).
We were sitting outside, waiting, my team talking and laughing and making jokes as always. Questions such as “Why did we just come to wait around?” and “If they didn’t need all of us, why did we all come?” arose in my mind and i quickly prayed for a changed heart, asking for a new perspective on why we were there and what we were doing.
Then, i looked up and saw two little boys sitting sticking their heads out of a window, doing what all Guatemalan kids do best, staring at the gringos that came to play with them. Seeing them, a smile quickly came across my face and without thinking twice, i walked towards them. That’s when i met Kevin.
He hid as soon as he saw me, which started an impromptu game of “peek-a-boo” and choruses of laughter from me and the boys. i feel in love with Kevin without a second thought, and i think he felt the same. When he decided he was done with peek-a-boo, he climbed through the window, despite the open door two steps away from him, and into my arms. We were best friends instantly.
Kevin doesn’t talk much. In fact, i only know his name is Kevin because the woman who runs the orphanage told me. i only know that he is five years old because i asked one of my team members. i can’t tell you what his favorite color is. i can’t tell you what toy he likes the most or if he likes the swings more than the see-saw. But i can tell you that he loves riding around on my shoulders and laughing until his little brown body shakes from joy. i know that he loves to go down the slide and to look at babies, that he loves his black high tops and he smiles wider than any child i have ever known. These things are proof that i serve a God who is bigger than any language barriers, or even silence. He is a God who can change lives through a language of laughter and smiles.
From the moment he climbed through the small window and into my arms, the only time he left me was to go down the slide. Even then, i was at the end of the slide waiting to catch him to celebrate the victory by throwing him into the air and laughing with him until he decided it was time to slide again. He wouldn’t dance with his friends because he didn’t want me to put him down. He didn’t run with his friends because he wanted to be in my arms. He wanted to be held and i wanted to hold him. For the little time we had together, we were inseparable and we were happy.
i’ve been blessed to love on a lot of babies in my life time. From sweet kids at home, LFR, in Ecuador, and the ones i’ve met here, i have had my heart captured by handfuls of Our Father’s sweet children. Kevin was different. Kevin’s love was louder, faster even. i didn’t know i could fall in love with a child this quickly and this deeply. Never have i felt so wanted, so needed, so loved, by someone who barley spoke to me. It was incredible and it was obvious that it was coming straight from my Creator.
When it came time for us to leave, Kevin latched on tighter and i didn’t fight it. He climbed on my shoulders and i walked him to the farthest point i could take him. As i was told for the hundredth time that we had to leave, one of my team leaders offered help in getting him off my shoulders. She grabbed him and his knees quickly tightened around my head, his way of protesting the separation. After a number of tries, he was on the ground, arms in the air asking me to hold him. i quickly picked up his sweet little body one last time, hugged him, tickled him, kissed him, and said goodbye. Walking away, i was fighting tears and praising God for the opportunity to know and love and feel wanted by sweet Kevin.
Then i heard my God, my Creator, my Father gently whisper to me, “I want you more.” and i knew it was true. i knew why The Father brought me to the orphanage and i knew why He wrote my story to intersect with Kevin’s. i loved Kevin the moment i met him and i wanted him to ride around on my shoulders forever as much as he wanted to be there, my God loves and wants me (and you) a million times more.
As much as i hated leaving Kevin, as much as i wish more than anything that i was able to see him everyday, i am thankful for how our stories intersected. i am thankful for the temporary hurt i felt walking away from him because it caused my heart to be open to hear eternal truth from my Father.
My God is in the details. He is my Dad and he knows me; He knows how easily and openly i would give and receive love from Kevin, so He brought me to a place where He could show me His unending love through a little brown orphan. He knew what i needed to hear, what i needed to feel, and He put me in the right place with the perfect little Guatemalan boy for me to hear and feel those things. For this, for Kevin, for truth, for my Heavenly Father, i am thankful.